5 Science Books Every Chef Should Read

People love to ask what my favorite recipes are. They are often disappointed when I recommend tons of science books instead of coffee table art-like recipes.

Why science?

Really great cooks work smart, not hard, and they have a deep understanding of how and why ingredients, timing and temperature interact. This knowledge can help you gain control, so you can develop the flavor and texture you want at every step of the cooking process. Having a scientific understanding of food can also help you stand up and think so you can correct mistakes that may not be fixed (like overly whipped egg whites) and avoid future missteps. What’s more, science-focused cookbooks like these will make you a more skilled and adaptable cook and give you the confidence to tackle any challenge in the kitchen.

There are plenty of useful food science books out there; below you’ll find some that I’ve relied on and turned to again and again.


since McKee about food and cooking First published in 1984, this comprehensive book by ingredients has become a must-have for professional and home cooks alike. While you will definitely read this book from cover to cover, I consider it an encyclopedia and visit it whenever I have a question about some specific question: How does gluten work? How do you refresh a loaf of stale bread? Why are egg yolks such a good emulsifier? McGee patiently guides his readers through each chapter with detailed explanations and clear illustrations. In the best possible way, it almost feels like a really cool science teacher is teaching you how to make dinner.

About Food and Cooking: The Science and Legends of the Kitchen

Harold McGee

the term molecular gastronomy Created in 1988 by chemist Hervé This (pronounced “teess”) and Oxford University physics professor Nicholas Kurti. An entire book on molecular gastronomy might sound intimidating, but this one is a page-turner. The author, Aimee Lee Ball, calls him “France’s favorite food mad scientist”—at once charming and humorous, with attention to clear, concise, easy-to-understand language. This book debunks common myths by delving into how cooking changes food at the molecular level, and it answers common questions from home cooks. How do you fix a curdled custard? Which cheese and wine combination is best for a fondue that doesn’t turn into “solid lumps in the bottom of the pot under the greasy liquid”? Why is a copper pot better for making fruit preserves? It’s hard not to share that this is a passion for food and science as you flip through this fun read.

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Molecular gastronomy at Hervé This

Hervé this uses Kitchen Mystery Answering very specific questions that were not addressed in his first book above. In one of my favorite chapters, titled “Successful souffles?”, it explores all possible ways desserts can fail and provides three simple rules for foolproof souffles. It’s a tote-sized book: short and sweet, it’s a great gift for any passionate home cook.

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Kitchen Mysteries: Uncovering the Science of Cooking

by Hervé this

Shirley O. Corrich’s BakeWise will provide you with everything you need to bake beautiful and delicious pastries. Corriher — a biochemist also trained in French culinary arts — breaks down all the science needed to explain why every recipe in her book works. For example, her dark chocolate cake uses Dutch process cocoa powder and baking soda to alkalize the chocolate, resulting in an almost black cake. “My goal is to BakeWise,” she writes, “is to give you the tools—information you can use to make not only successful baked goods, but great baked goods. “

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BakeWise: How and Why to Bake Successfully Using 200+ Beautiful Recipes

Levy Beranbaum has two food science degrees and is the genius behind the reverse cream method. although cake bible Strictly speaking, this is not a science book, and Levy Beranbaum provides practical tips on how to make each cake successfully; she includes an “understanding” section in most of her recipes, where she explains why the recommended methods work best it is good. If you want to be a better baker and learn how to make the most delicious and tender cakes, cake bible is a book for you.

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