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Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food [Paperback]

Jeff Potter
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
RRP: £22.50
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Book Description

12 Aug 2010

Are you the innovative type, the cook who marches to a different drummer -- used to expressing your creativity instead of just following recipes? Are you interested in the science behind what happens to food while it's cooking? Do you want to learn what makes a recipe work so you can improvise and create your own unique dish?

More than just a cookbook, Cooking for Geeks applies your curiosity to discovery, inspiration, and invention in the kitchen. Why is medium-rare steak so popular? Why do we bake some things at 350° F/175° C and others at 375° F/190° C? And how quickly does a pizza cook if we overclock an oven to 1,000° F/540° C? Author and cooking geek Jeff Potter provides the answers and offers a unique take on recipes -- from the sweet (a "mean" chocolate chip cookie) to the savory (duck confit sugo).

This book is an excellent and intriguing resource for anyone who wants to experiment with cooking, even if you don't consider yourself a geek.

  • Initialize your kitchen and calibrate your tools
  • Learn about the important reactions in cooking, such as protein denaturation, Maillard reactions, and caramelization, and how they impact the foods we cook
  • Play with your food using hydrocolloids and sous vide cooking
  • Gain firsthand insights from interviews with researchers, food scientists, knife experts, chefs, writers, and more, including author Harold McGee, TV personality Adam Savage, chemist Herv&eacute This, and xkcd

"My own session with the book made me feel a lot more confident in my cooking."

--Monica Racic,The New Yorker

"I LOVE this book. It's inspiring, invigorating, and damned fun to spend time inside the mind of 'big picture' cooking. I'm Hungry!"

--Adam Savage, co-host of Discovery Channel's MythBusters

"In his enchanting, funny, and informative book, Cooking for Geeks (O'Reilly), Jeff Potter tells us why things work in the kitchen and why they don't."

-- Barbara Hanson, NewYork Daily News

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Frequently Bought Together

Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food + Xkcd: Volume 0 + What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
Price For All Three: £39.58

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (12 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596805888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596805883
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 20.3 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

I'm hungry. Hungry for dinner; hungry for answers. Can knowing a little food science help you cook a better meal? Definitely. Keep you healthier? Yes! Let you pull off a crazy cooking challenge? Absolutely!! I love looking at how science can improve our everyday lives, whether inside or outside of the kitchen.

Visit my website to learn more about my book, Cooking for Geeks.


Product Description

About the Author

Jeff Potter has done the cubicle thing, the startup thing, and the entrepreneur thing, and through it all maintained his sanity by cooking for friends. He studied computer science and visual art at Brown University.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dont just make food, create food 16 Nov 2010
When you think about geeks, you rarely think about them cooking; most people instantly imagine them with pizzas or crisps, not in front of ovens. Jeff Potter, the author, explains why most geeks are shy of kitchens. Being a geek himself, he explains cooking in software development terms; compiling food, defining vegetable variables, overclocking the oven, and looking at recipes as source code. He explains everything with a sense of humour that is a joy to read. This book had me hooked right from the beginning, so when he started to talk about cooking with stuff that can kill you; liquid nitrogen ice cream or electrocuted hot dogs, I couldn't put this book down.

Jeff starts off the book with easy recipes, with the explanation that if you want to learn a programming language, you don't start off by writing an operating system. The same thing goes for cooking; start off small, learn to read a recipe and learn to change elements to suit your style. Source code isn't static; you can always change it to suit your style. Jeff takes you through it step by step, but he goes one step further. Geeks aren't just interested in following steps, they want to know, and need to know why. Why do you need to cook at a certain temperature? Why do you need to add an ingredient before another one? Cooking isn't just about blindly following recipes, its science!

Cooking for Geeks isn't a reference book. Whilst it does contain recipes throughout the book, it isn't a book that you will idly pick up to make a meal for friends. You will learn what sort of a cook you are, and help you focus on what you are good at. It will help you select kitchen hardware depending on who you are and on what you want to do. It will help you prepare and calibrate your tools, especially your oven.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My kind of cook book 5 Sep 2010
By Shazzer
Reminiscent of the "Good Eats" TV series, this book delves into the whys and wherefores of food and cooking rather than simply presenting instructions and a pretty picture (though there's a bit of that too). Armed with this knowledge, it's possible to then hack recipe "code" to suit your resources and tastes.
With geeky tips such as how to calibrate your oven with sugar and the Optimal Cake-Cutting Algorithm for N People, info on how much whipping will turn your cream to butter, and any amount of the science behind how foods react to the application of heat over time, this book really lives up to its name.
As for how good the recipes are: my fussy four year old declared the buttermilk pancakes the "most delicious things I've ever eaten" and asked for seconds and thirds.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Mr. D. N. Sumption VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is packed with fascinating information, I have been a keen cook for many years but even so have learned loads of useful stuff that I never knew. The only reasons why I'm not giving it five stars are that I find the writing style a little annoying and at times patronising, and also the format of the book just feels wrong - the pages are too wide, which I found made it a little awkward to read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Marmite 24 Mar 2011
Content's decent. Skimps on the basics, but you can Google easily enough.

Condescending as hell, relates everything to programming - look past that, you're rewarded with good information.

Grr. Annoyingly useful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Janis
I bought this book as a gift for our friend. She's already a great young professional cook and she liked this book very much.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read 12 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There's a lot of good technical information in there but it takes a lot of finding. Lots of repetitions, lots of interviews with people answering the same questions over and over. If you like a good read, it's for you, if you want to quickly find technical answers to cooking questions, there are better publications.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This was a present 14 Jan 2011
This was a present for my boyfriend for christmas, hes quite geeky and has also prevously shown an interest in cooking. The book isn't really focused around the recipes although there are some in it, its mostly talking about the science behind the food, and talking about processes in cooking rather than just a list of recipes. The recipes that are in the book are used as case studies.

Overall, very good, my boyfriend was glued to it for quite a while after christmas, and is still refering to it now, even though hes finished the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 8 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great book to get you thinking about the science behind your cooking!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book for anyone interested in cooking
I've only flipped through this book so far because I plan to have it as my summer reading tome. But from what I have seen so far, I just can't wait for the holidays!
Published 4 months ago by Grechel
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
I brought this as a gift for my partner as he is a chef and he loved it. Very informative and even I found it useful.
Published 5 months ago by miss z bates
4.0 out of 5 stars stolen!
I was supposed to be the geek. But my wife, who is an excellent cook, is constantly dipping into my book, finding unusual facts about food chemistry and history - as well as... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Andrew
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book
Absoultely fantastic book as a primer into the world of kitchen science also ideal for sciencey people who need to get into the kitchen more and learn the life skill that is... Read more
Published 8 months ago by PhotosBySimonH
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, even scientists might find some good stuff here
Really fun to read. Great book, gives you the basics and tries to explain them - the ingredients, the processes, the how and why :) All in all, I'd recommend to anyone who skipped... Read more
Published 8 months ago by O. Rainova
3.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmmmmm
Bought for my son for a joke but he takes it seriously
Published 8 months ago by Jocelyn Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read for a Sunday afternoon!
My boyfriend loves this book, bought it as a Christmas present, loads of cool tips and tricks. I proof read it first and couldn't put it down for hours!
Published 8 months ago by charlotte
4.0 out of 5 stars Recipient delighted
Bought as Christmas present and loved by the recipient. Lots of useful recipes and comments. Wacky cover design makes it look damaged which was a bit off-putting at first!
Published 9 months ago by Trevor Cobb
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing book
it's cooking, kitchen tools and more explained in a way an engineer/designer would like to understand what goes on when cooking, and what goes on when things don't work as they... Read more
Published 12 months ago by rin
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
Great cookery book for food lovers who also love a bit of science. My boyfriend loves cooking and he studies food and nutrition at university so this made an excellent gift for him
Published 18 months ago by Miss L. K. Fenny
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