In one image, melted, glazed butter drips lasciviously off of garden-fresh beets and radishes. In another, a series of shots freeze-frame the explosion of a single popcorn kernel.

These are some of the photos from the magnum opus Modernist Cuisine - also referred to in the gastro-world as the "the cookbook to end all cookbooks"- currently on exhibit at Hong Kong's Taste Matters CENTRAL festival.

Sixteen traffic-stopping photos by photographer Ryan Matthew Smith will be on display on Charter Bridge and East Bridge, Central until August 14 - the first public exhibition of photos from the six-volume, 2,438-page series.

Written by Nathan Myhrvold, a former Chief Technology Officer for Microsoft and wunderkind who graduated from high school at the age of 14, the book has been making the global circuit after being hailed as "the most astonishing cookbook of our time," and "the most important book in the culinary arts since Escoffier."

Photos from the massive-scale culinary encyclopedia are approached with a measure of science, artistry and precision and capture the essence of ingredients. To convey the need for balance in the perfect Pad Thai, noodles are wrapped tightly around a pair of chopsticks, while a lime wedge is perched on the other end.

"Great Pad Thai requires that all its elements be precisely balanced in their proportions," instruct the writers.

The series has drawn comparisons to British chef Heston Blumenthal's The Big Fat Duck Cookbook, which also uses science to strive for culinary perfection.

Taste Matters is also inviting gourmands to submit an original recipe featuring one of 10 ingredients in the photo exhibit. The ten winning dishes will be reinterpreted and served in restaurants across Hong Kong for one month. Winners will also be rewarded with KK$10,000 (€905) in gift certificates.

Here are the ingredients and participating restaurants:

Beetroot        Liberty Exchange Kitchen + Bar
Black Cod      Harvey Nichols Fourth Floor Restaurant & Bar
Chicken         Café Landmark
Foie Gras       L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Langoustine   Amber
Lobster          8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana
Orange         Sevva
Pasta            Grappa's Cellar
Red Wine      Alfe's By KEE Bar & Restaurant
Tuna             Dot Cod Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar

For more info, visit