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My Life in food: Nathan Myrhrvold


By the time Myrhrvold was 13, he was already cooking Thanksgiving dinners for his family. Food and its photography soon became twin obsessions. He initially worked as the chief technology officer for Microsoft, taking leaves of absence to earn his culinary diploma from the Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in France. His move from technology to food was not, however, completed until he released his justly famed paeans to modern cooking techniques, Modernist Cuisine and Modernist Cuisine at Home. His latest book, The Photography of Modernist Cuisine, is published 22 October (£80).

What are your most- and least-used pieces of kitchen kit?

The most-used piece of kitchen equipment in my kitchen is a water bath, used for cooking sous vide. The least used... boy, there’s a lot of competition because I’ve got a big kitchen and I am a sucker for gadgets. But I think the least used thing at the moment is probably a Japanese stainless-steel sea-urchin opener.

If you had only £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it, and on what?

I would go to Costco and buy a big tub of imported Mozzarella di Buffalo. In the US, Costco’s Mozzarella di Buffalo has just the correct creaminess, taste and great texture. If there was money left over, coarse salt, too.

What do you eat for comfort?

Barbecued pork ribs. Pork ribs, particularly if they’re cooked properly, are rich, excessive and quite wonderful. Comfort food, for me, is best when it harks back to a different age. For me, pork ribs do that.

If you could eat only bread or potatoes, which would you choose?

Bread for sure, because it spans a greater range of flavours and textures than potatoes. And also bread carries with it cultural history – baguette, naan, tortilla or brioche, breads are indelibly shaped by the cultures that created them, often for a set of practical reasons that have long since vanished: for example, flat breads were great because they could be made faster than other breads. And sourdough was almost certainly the original kind of bread. Cultivated yeast came much later. Sourdough has a variety of problems that cultivated yeast solved. Nonetheless, the characteristic taste and texture of it is wonderful and so it also survives.

What’s your desert island recipe?

I guess that would have to be fish that I caught myself, cooked in a solar-powered cooker because what else would I have on the desert island?

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Usually, the one I’m most excited about is the most recent one I ate at. In Japan, I had sushi at Sukiyabashi Jiro. Jiro Ono’s cuisine is exquisite. It’s about refining the classics. It’s a completely different approach than Ferran Adrià’s, say. At elBulli, you’d never see the same dish twice. You know Jiro has spent 6o years perfecting each dish. It’s great that the culinary world embraces both these approaches.

What’s your favourite cook book?

Le Guide Culinaire, by Auguste Escoffier. I got it from a library when I was a kid and, to me at the time, it meant this whole world of exotic French cooking. It still means that to me now, even though I’ve learned a whole lot of stuff since then.