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Kitchen as a Laboratory (Arts & Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History) Hardcover – 21 Feb 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (21 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231153449
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231153447
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.5 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 501,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

Behind today's celebrity chefs and starred restaurants is a mostly unsung army of dedicated food and science lovers working to uncover the scientific principles that make our modern gastronomical marvels possible. In offering thirty-three highly readable and often amusing essays by warriors in this multinational kitchen army, the editors of this anthology have accomplished the great service of filling a much-needed gap in the public's understanding and appreciation of twenty-first-century culinary 'magic.' Where else can one have fun pondering the acoustics of crunchy foods or the texture of an ice cream that stretches like a rubber band?--Robert Wolke, former "Washington Post" food columnist and author of "What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained"

The Kitchen as Laboratory provides good perspective on the scientific approach to cooking while reflecting the interests and passions of each essay's author. Readers are likely to come away with a lot of new ideas to use in the kitchen, as well as some recognition of the breadth of contemporary applications of science in the kitchen.--Peter Barham, author of "The Science of Cooking"

The editors of "The Kitchen as Laboratory "provide not just intimate and fascinating anecdotal insights but also the scientific principles that inspired them. They have created a new altar for chefs and gourmands to worship: the poetry of science.--Will Goldfarb, creator of Willpowder, Experimental Cuisine Collective

Cesar Vega, Job Ubbink, and Erik van der Linden have assembled a complete document that seamlessly bridges the inherent connection of the science of cooking and the art of cooking. They have created a testament to the fact that precise understanding and open minded observation are invaluable tools for creative cooking. "Kitchen as Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food and Cooking" is a thought provoking, insightful and approachable resource for professional chefs and home cooks alike.--Maxime Bilet, head chef for recipe research and development at The Cooking Lab, co-author of "Modernist Cuisine"

Nothing is more difficult to master in the world than science itself. "The Kitchen as Laboratory" creates a beautiful synergy between food and science while amazingly representing difficult concepts in colloquial language. It is a powerful book.--Chef Jos? Andr?s, James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Chef

"The Kitchen as Laboratory" is not only an in-depth study of many areas of food science, but also an entertaining read. For someone like me, who relishes understanding more about cooking from the inside out, it's heartening to see this area of literature expanded.--Chef Wylie Dufresne, wd~50

serious and substantive anthology--Harold McGee"Nature" (01/01/0001)

"The Kitchen as Laboratory" is not only an in-depth study of many areas of food science, but also an entertaining read. For someone like me, who relishes understanding more about cooking from the inside out, it's heartening to see this area of literature expanded.--Chef Wylie Dufresne, wd~50

Behind today's celebrity chefs and starred restaurants is a mostly unsung army of dedicated food and science lovers working to uncover the scientific principles that make our modern gastronomical marvels possible. In offering thirty-three highly readable and often amusing essays by warriors in this multinational kitchen army, the editors of this anthology have accomplished the great service of filling a much-needed gap in the public's understanding and appreciation of twenty-first-century culinary 'magic.' Where else can one have fun pondering the acoustics of crunchy foods or the texture of an ice cream that stretches like a rubber band?

--Robert Wolke, former Washington Post food columnist and author of What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained

The editors of The Kitchen as Laboratory provide not just intimate and fascinating anecdotal insights but also the scientific principles that inspired them. They have created a new altar for chefs and gourmands to worship: the poetry of science.

--Will Goldfarb, creator of Willpowder, Experimental Cuisine Collective

The Kitchen as Laboratory provides good perspective on the scientific approach to cooking while reflecting the interests and passions of each essay's author. Readers are likely to come away with a lot of new ideas to use in the kitchen, as well as some recognition of the breadth of contemporary applications of science in the kitchen.

--Peter Barham, author of The Science of Cooking

The Kitchen as Laboratory is not only an in-depth study of many areas of food science, but also an entertaining read. For someone like me, who relishes understanding more about cooking from the inside out, it's heartening to see this area of literature expanded.

--Chef Wylie Dufresne, wd~50

Nothing is more difficult to master in the world than science itself. The Kitchen as Laboratory creates a beautiful synergy between food and science while amazingly representing difficult concepts in colloquial language. It is a powerful book.

--Chef Jos? Andr?s, James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Chef

Cesar Vega, Job Ubbink, and Erik van der Linden have assembled a complete document that seamlessly bridges the inherent connection of the science of cooking and the art of cooking. They have created a testament to the fact that precise understanding and open minded observation are invaluable tools for creative cooking. Kitchen as Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food and Cooking is a thought provoking, insightful and approachable resource for professional chefs and home cooks alike.

--Maxime Bilet, head chef for recipe research and development at The Cooking Lab, co-author of Modernist Cuisine

serious and substantive anthology

--Harold McGee"Nature" (01/01/0001)

About the Author

C sar Vega holds a Ph.D. in food science and a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu and is research manager at Mars Botanical, a division of Mars, Inc. He has consulted with several avant-garde restaurants on aspects relating to science-based cooking, and he regularly teaches seminars on the relation between science and cooking. Job Ubbink is a senior consultant at Food Concept and Physical Design in Fl h, Switzerland. Trained as a physical chemist and biophysicist, he has more than twelve years of R&D experience in the food industry. Along with his research on food material science and food biophysics, he is a passionate cook devoted to developing sustainable food practices and culture. Erik van der Linden is professor of physics and physical chemistry of foods at Wageningen University. From 1991 to 1997, he worked at the interface of science and industry at Unilever Research in the Netherlands and in the United States, leading innovation projects on structural and sensory aspects of detergents, cosmetics, and foods. He earned his M.Sc. degree in theoretical physics and his Ph.D. at Leiden University and was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University, where he focused on the stability of oil in water emulsions.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Molecular gastronomy books have a very tough task in balancing readability, scientific detail, accessibility, and applicability of any results to the domestic kitchen. One the one hand, you have "popular science" books, easy to read, but often little more than a collection of anecdotes. On the other hand are more technical books, like Harold McGee's excellent 'McGee on Food and Cooking', which aren't the kind of book you might want to sit down and read for an hour. As molecular techniques begin to become more readily reproducible at home, there is a need for great books which hit all of the spots above. Enter The Kitchen As Laboratory.

Written as a collection of essays from many leading food scientists, each of the thirty-three chapters discusses a part of food science, from the more common topics, like the Maillard reaction or meringues, to less common topics, like the effects of Xanthan gum or "bloom" in chocolate. Often, experiments are carried out - like trying to make a meringue out of nothing else than milk - to illustrate the principles involved; so you can actually look at the results of some very strange creations. But don't let these experiments, or some of the pictures from cakes put under microscopes, make you think it is too "sciency" a book. The book is very readable, and I am sure that somebody with a limited science background could still get a lot out of the read.

I'd highly recommend this book for anybody interested in cooking, and certainly for those interested in molecular gastronomy. I hugely enjoyed reading it, and I wouldn't be surprised if it became a classic book in food science. It's not often you find a book of this quality.
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By Autamme_dot_com TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 18 Feb. 2013
Format: Hardcover
If you think about it food and cookery have always been interlinked but not so many people have bothered to think why and look towards science as a way of making things even better. When they do, invariably, it is to make commercial food production more efficient and cost-effective.

Does the consumer gain so much here? Not so when it comes to the plate in any case and many people are sceptical to overt scientific manipulation of their foodstuffs. Yet in more recent times there has become a growing amount of interest in the science of gastronomy with many talented chefs around the world tackling this subject and looking at ways of pushing the envelope. It is no longer good enough to use good ingredients to make tasty food. A wow factor is often desirable and what better way to do that then through fooling the senses in a positive way and making the absolute best of the ingredients at hand! Some chefs such as Heston Blumenthal have managed to carve themselves a niche through their reputation as a good chef and as a talented gastronomic or molecular cook.

This book is a collection of 33 standalone chapters or essays looking at different elements of molecular gastronomy, as the subject has been labelled. Good science if you will differentiate it from the sometimes-controversial scientific manipulation of foodstuffs. Much of this work is still relatively new and developments are constantly being made as techniques are trialled and refined and knowledge becomes more commonplace.

This is not a dry scientific book that will only appeal to people with many letters after their name! Of course, it is going to be science-heavy and not an overly light read but the information contained within the essays is engaging, thought-provoking and accessible.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a decent attempt to write up some "molecular gastronomy" experiments for the general reader. As with so much modernist cooking, the problem for the home cook is that much of this is not of any practical use in the home kitchen. So, as this isn't really useable, it would have been better if a firmer editorial hand had been applied to improving some of the writing. I get that the authors aren't necessarily professional writers, but some of this is really quite amateurishly written (see, for example, the multiple unnecessary exclamation marks!). Also, and this might be unavoidable given the subject matter, it does start to feel quite repetitive - here is the thing we are experimenting with, here's the process, here's the end result. Without writing that really communicates the tastes and textures to the reader, this can at times be a bit of a slog.

My star rating is a compromise - I reckon it's three stars for the amateur reader, five stars for the professional who can actually use the book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The content is great. If you are into how stuff works in a kitchen on a lower level, this is a very interesting read.

It consists of different chapters with a topic in each, written by different authors.

The book itself is of pretty low quality, rough paper.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is basically a circle-jerk of scientists seeing how little sugar they can put in a meringue and get it to stay up, whilst using a lot of chemical diagrams and technical vocab. I'm fine with technical vocab, but it has to do something for me as a kitchen-cook before I'll excuse you using it.

The structure of the essays is non-existent; perhaps OK for a dip-in toilet-read for a technical person but s***e for a cook looking for inspiration in the Kindle edition.
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