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Lunch » Tags » Events » Reviews » Cooking for Geeks: Science, Hacks, & Good Food » User review

Like reading a whole season of Alton Brown's Good Eats... great stuff!

  • Aug 14, 2010
  • by

The typical geek doesn't just want something to work.  They want to know *why* and *how* it works.  If your geekness extends to the kitchen, this book is perfect... Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food by Jeff Potter.  It's a wonderful mix of science and hands-on activities, and definitely opened my eyes as to why things work as they do in the kitchen.

Hello, Kitchen!: Think Like a Hacker; Cooking for One; Cooking for Others
Initializing the Kitchen: Approaching the Kitchen; Kitchen Equipment; Kitchen Organization
Choosing Your Inputs - Flavors and Ingredients: Smell + Taste = Flavor; Tastes - Bitter, Salty, Sweet, Umami, Others; Adapt and Experiment Method; Regional/Traditional Method; Seasonal Method; Analytical Method
Time and Temperature - Cooking's Primary Variables: Cooked = Time * Temperature; Foodborne Illness and Staying Safe; Key Temperatures in Cooking
Air - Baking's Key Variable: Gluten; Biological Leaveners; Chemical Leaveners; Mechanical Leaveners
Playing with Chemicals: Traditional Cooking Chemicals; Modern Industrial Chemicals
Fun with Hardware: Sous Vide Cooking; Commercial Hardware and Techniques
Appendix; Afterword; Index

There's just so fun stuff here, it's hard to know where to start.  Potter does an excellent job in explaining the science behind what happens when you mix the eggs, flour, and milk together and apply heat.  While most books on cooking tell you *what* to do, this one goes into the *why* and *how*.  For instance, why does heat change food, and how does that happen?  What is involved in protein denaturation, the maillard reaction, and caramelization?  And why does knowing all this make a difference to you when it comes to knowing when a particular item is "done cooking"?  It's this type of information that takes you beyond saying "but I left it in for the 10 minutes they said... why wasn't it cooked?"  After reading Cooking for Geeks, you can start to understand what's going on within the food, and make educated decisions about what happened, what is happening, and what will happen next.

Fortunately, Cooking for Geeks isn't just a chemistry manual though.  It's full of actual recipes that look delicious, as well as interviews with other cooks who reveal some of their secrets and mindsets behind what they do in the kitchen.  Again, it all serves to take you beyond the "follow steps 1, 2, and 3" method of cooking, into something that is creative and fun.  

This is like reading a season's worth of Alton Brown's Good Eats shows.  Plenty of fun and very informational... and you can eat or toss your mistakes. :)

Obtained From: Publisher
Payment: Free

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More Cooking for Geeks: Science, Ha... reviews
review by . March 13, 2010
posted in SXSW on Lunch
remember science experiments in school? that's @cookingforgeeks in a nutshell
Biggest Takeaway:   cooking and tasting is a lot more complex than i thought!      Brief overview:   i'm not someone who's interested in cooking, nor am i good at it. i'm also not a scientist, nor am i very good at science. yet i found this session very fascinating. the session was about the different types of "tasters" (super tasters, normal and non tasters) and how they all taste things differently.       another portion …
About the reviewer
Thomas Duff ()
Ranked #42
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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Location, date and time:
Friday, March 12 at 05:00 PM

Cooking for Geeks covers a new way of looking at how to cook for the hacker, maker, and creative person. By bringing science and experimentation into the kitchen, this Panel will show how to create better food and new experiences at the dinner table.
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Date(s): Friday March 12

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