Cooking for Geeks: understanding the science on your plate

cooking_for_geeks_second_edition_english_cover-400x463What do you think about when prepping a dinner party, a BBQ or trying out a new recipe, from Peru, for example. Perhaps your inner geek is seeking answers to questions such as; ‘how does my sense of taste and smell work?’ and ‘how does heat change our foods?’ or what’s the science behind the perfect crispy and chewy cookie?

Cooking has always been a subtle mix of science and art. The success of a good plate is getting the balance right, but in my mind it’s around 50/50. Watching TV chefs launch pinches of salt, coriander or a bunch of parsley into a simmering pot, one might think this all about the style, the art of cooking. But the good cook measures the ingredients, is keeping a close eye on the flaming heat of the stove and how it’s simmering the stock, caramelising the onions or chooses to use olive over rape seed oil for its cooking properties.

Jeff Potter gets geeky in the kitchen
Jeff Potter gets geeky in the kitchen

It’s quite easy to get technical at the stove, but also great fun to research and understand how different ingredients react with each other. Here you’ll learn why some things might impress in the technical challenge of a Bake Off while others end up collapsing in a mushy pile.

To get a real feel for the science of food prep, grab a copy of ‘Cooking for Geeks’, a book for anyone who with a spark of adventure and wants to do more than simply follow a recipe. It’s the perfect book for the curious, smart and hungry geek and those who need the answers to ‘why’ as much as ‘how’.

Different to any other cookbook on the market, the 400-page ‘Cooking for Geeks’ should find space on any curious food fan’s bookshelf.

Making ice cream with liquid nitrogen
Jeff making ice cream with liquid nitrogen

US author Jeff Potter, a self-confessed food geek, curious about the science of food and why ingredients and recipes work the way they do. He says: “By bringing science to food-minded people and food to science-minded people, there’s the potential to make us all masters of the kitchen.”

Jeff has obviously put a lot of thought into what it means to be a chef. He delves into thought processes such as thinking like a geek and helping you identify the type of cook you are – the innovative type or preferring to express your creativity rather than following a recipe too closely. He also, and you probably wouldn’t try this at home, shares a recipe to make a 500 lb doughnut! You might, though, be curious to learn how to use liquid nitrogen and unleash your inner molecular gastronome and follow in the footsteps of Barcelona’s Ferran Adrià or the UK’s Heston (no need for a surname here!).

“As Jeff says, “From hot food issues such as what are trans-fats, to understanding the difference between organic, conventional and local foods, I created this new edition to help curious readers navigate their own food choices. There’s lots of fun experiments and challenges so it’s perfect for those cooks that want to know as much about why as how, and who are prepared to have a go for themselves.”

‘Cooking for Geeks’ by Jeff Potter is available from high street bookshops and reputable online retailers.

Bruce McMichael

Food writing, discovering food stories, meeting producers, chefs and food enthusiasts are all part of desire to inspire, inform my readers and fellow food lovers. I am a freelance writer, journalist and published author focusing on the international world of food and drink, culture and travel. In 2019 I graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy with a Masters in Food Culture, Communication and Marketing. I am now a visiting Professor at the university teaching Food & Drink Writing. Based in London I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur. In 2017 I won an episode of the ITV (the UK-based national television channel) cooking competition show, 'Gordon Ramsay's Culinary Genius'. I took my children on holiday to Sicily with the prize money. As an experienced farmers' market manager and operator of a small marmalade/ preserves company, I am very familiar with the issues surrounding local food, farming, enterprise and the environment.