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A scientist at loose in the kitchen

updated 5:01 PM EDT, Fri September 16, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Nathan Myhrvold is the former chief technology officer at Microsoft
  • A physicist, he published a 2,400-page cookbook on science of food prep
  • Myhrvold says it's about applying state of the art technology to cooking

(CNN) -- It wasn't enough for Nathan Myhrvold to work with Stephen Hawking on research in physics, or to develop many of Microsoft's key products, or publish books of his nature photography. He had to take his career in yet another direction -- by getting his hands dirty in the kitchen.

Myhrvold has published an extraordinary cookbook, a 2,438-page work, in six volumes, that lists at $625.

"Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking" isn't your ordinary cookbook, Myhrvold admits.

Nathan Myhrvold holds up his $625, 2,400-page book on the art and science of cooking, at TED2011 conference.
Nathan Myhrvold holds up his $625, 2,400-page book on the art and science of cooking, at TED2011 conference.

Myhrvold, the former chief strategist and chief technology officer at Microsoft, took a radical approach to researching and preparing his cookbook.

Watch Nathan Myhrvold's TED Talk

To understand and demonstrate what happens to food as it cooks, he used a machine shop to cut pots, pans, woks, microwave ovens, barbecue grills, and even restaurant ovens in half. The result was a book that provides scientific advice on how to grill a hamburger, steam broccoli and pickle vegetables.

In an interview with CNN at the TED2011 conference in Long Beach, California in March, Myhrvold said, "our book tries to use dramatic photography to explain and show people really what's happening when you cook.

"I wouldn't claim the book is for everybody. If you want to cook a really simple meal really fast, there's a ton of cookbooks that do that." His book, he said, is about taking "state of the art technology and applying it to make the best possible food."

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