Nathan Myhrvold's Modernist Cuisine keeps getting more accessible to home chefs. First it was a six-volume, 23kg, $US500 culinary encyclopaedia. Then came the two-volume, $US115Modernist Cuisine at Home. Now it's an app — a gorgeously designed and far more practical way to learn molecular gastronomy techniques.
According to Co.Design, Myhrvold was against producing any kind of app because he was worried about usability, which is kinda weird when you consider that he was once Bill Gates' right-hand man at Microsoft. But app publisher Inkling's CEO Matt MacInnis managed to talk him into it by ensuring they'd offer the same attention to detail as the books, enlisting 10 to 15 people and nine months development time.
The app is illustrated with the same sumptuous photos as the books, but here there are also excellent videos, which are key when you're trying to blowtorch a filet for the first time. I especially appreciate the interactive diagrams that explain the science behind the techniques, like how a pressure cooker actually works, for example. One thing I can't wait to try: Making homemade American cheese.
Like many cookbook apps, Modernist Cuisine at Home can create shopping lists and recalculate ingredient amounts depending on how many mouths you're trying to feed. The app also has a glossary, which is extremely helpful for some of Myhrvold's more obscure ingredients, like albumin powder (dehydrated egg-white protein). To get a feel for the style, you can download one of the three sample recipes to try it out, like this Caramelized Carrot Soup. Chapters are also available a la carte for $5.49.
The Modernist Cuisine at Home app is available now for $84.99, and I would say that unless you want the original cookbook(s) sitting on your shelf to impress dinner guests, this is probably the only version you need. [Modernist Cuisine at Home via Co.Design]