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To Serve Geeks

A cooking show for the rest of us
  (+7)
(+7)
  [vote for,
against]

I’ve noticed that many engineers and scientists that I know (myself included) are not big on cooking. But if you think about it, physics, chemistry, biology and engineering are all very important to what goes on in the kitchen. Why not use this relationship to build a TV show around, to get them interested and involved?

It would fundamentally be built around recipes that a beginning cook can have success with. But each recipe would be chosen to illustrate a scientific or engineering question that would engage reader or viewer curiosity. For instance, what chemically is happening when you carmelize onions? Why is a microwave oven great for cooking some things, but not others? How are the temperatures at which various things are baked important?

Every so often the show could do a Mr. Wizard style investigation of some related thing that doesn’t fit into an actual recipe, just to jazz things up. For instance, that experiment where you use thermal fax paper to measure the speed of light in a microwave oven would be a good one. A feature on internet-enabled refrigerators and scanner-equipped microwaves would be another.

Think Emeril Lagasse crossed with Bill Nye as the host.

The book “The Curious Cook” by Harold McGee is in the ballbark, but it doesn’t have enough in the way of practical recipes and nerd appeal. Jutta and half have linked to other such books, but I think this might work better as a TV show.

krelnik, Jan 27 2004

For [LBAF] http://www.roymech....om_ex.html#Flatness
I said flatness, not fatness. [Worldgineer, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Is Kansas flat as a pancake? Someone did the math... http://www.guardian...026,1048791,00.html
[krelnik, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Kitchen Chemistry http://www.discover...k/kitchen/index.htm
Heston Blumenthal's Discovery series [hazel, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Ever Wondered About Food http://www.open2.net/everwonderedfood2/
... science and cooking combined. [jonthegeologist, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Cooking for Engineers blog http://www.cookingforengineers.com/
Oct 08 2004: Includes "diagrams" for each recipe [krelnik, Oct 08 2004]

Kamikaze Cookery http://www.kamikazecookery.com/about
Self-styled cookery geeks. [DrBob, Jun 04 2009]

[link]






       Add two moles of sugar, and blend until you attain a viscocity of 3 Pa s (+-.5 Pa s).
Worldgineer, Jan 27 2004
  

       It's all Geek to me. +
k_sra, Jan 27 2004
  

       Alton Brown does this pretty well from the other side. He starts with the cooking, and puts science into it (where relevant).
DonBirnam, Jan 27 2004
  

       Geek pancakes too?!
Letsbuildafort, Jan 27 2004
  

       Make sure to specify flatness.
Worldgineer, Jan 27 2004
  

       //Make sure to specify flatness.//   

       What like:
1.) Using Parents Computer - (skinniest)
2.) Programmer - (plump)
3.) Trekkie - (cupcake fiend)
  

       The varying degrees of geek fat content? List police action expected soon ...
Letsbuildafort, Jan 27 2004
  

       I've actually looked through a couple of those books, and I mention another in the idea. What I want is one that is more recipe oriented. Those have a few recipes, but not many. Its all well and good to read about roasting meat, but its a whole other thing to actually make a roast.   

       But point taken.   

       [moved to a TV category, and mentions of cookbooks removed]
krelnik, Jan 27 2004
  

       Good one, krelnik. 'Tis far more exciting to denature the enzymes than to simply fricassee. CFYKFLK.
lintkeeper2, Jan 27 2004
  

       A series on UK Discovery called Kitchen Chemistry did this recently. Heston Blumenthal is a chef who recently got his third Michelin star but who is very interested in the science.   

       He uses a temperature controlled water bath for example to ensure meat is cooked at exactly the right temperature to ensure the proteins are denatured without contracting and expelling water, making them tough.   

       He makes fantastically creamy icecream using liquid nitrogen (following an idea from Peter Barham, author of the book [Jutta] linked) which ensures the ice crystals are tiny.   

       He's also done some work with flavour chemists to do with why certain flavours work together and has come up with some unusual combinations which you wouldn't expect to work, but do, like white chocolate and caviar.
hazel, Jan 27 2004
  

       <off-topic>[jutta] For me stirring was easy. You have to lift up the cream with your spoon to make sure the LN doesn't just float on top. I found the toughest part of LN ice cream is the convincing. Convincing they guy at the welding shop to sell liquid nitrogen by the cooler load. Convincing my wife I knew what I was doing. Convincing the guests at the party that they aren't going to die by eating it... (yes, the HB was my inspiration for the LN ice cream party idea - same for you?)</off-topic>
Worldgineer, Jan 27 2004
  

       After working in metrology, I found it impossible to cook. I'd sit there staring at the kitchen scales, using the end of a knife to add and subtract some powery ingredient until it was within 1% of my required amount.   

       "Honey, what the hell are you doing?"
"Must... minimise... uncertainty... "
Detly, Jan 28 2004
  

       Correction: {woman yelling up to man on catwalk} It's a cookbook!
[man being dragged up despite best efforts]
galukalock, Jan 28 2004
  

       LN icecream is just about the only food where making it is more fun than eating it.
Detly, Jan 28 2004
  

       Peter Barham, whose book [jutta] linked to, is a lecturer here at Bristol University with a particular passion for penguins and food (not neccessarily combined). He actually holds the world record for the fastest icecream making, which he does using liquid N2. Heston makes the icecream at your table at the restaurant (I'm going next month so I've read up).
hazel, Jan 28 2004
  

       do geeks smash the plates on the floor?
po, Jan 28 2004
  

       Do geeks use plates at all?
Detly, Jan 28 2004
  

       not when they have smashed them all.
po, Jan 28 2004
  

       to summarise then [krelnik], you're looking for a cooking programme that is science based and explains in scientific terms what is going on at each stage of the recipe?   

       If so, I think this is baked. See linky.
jonthegeologist, Jan 28 2004
  

       ...and the one I mentioned [jtg] that we've been talking about for half the page!
hazel, Jan 28 2004
  

       I second [DonB]'s recommendation of Alton Brown. (Good Eats, on Food Network in the US nightly at 10:30 CST)   

       Anyone who keeps vanilla extract in a buret is a friend of mine.
Baker^-1, Jan 28 2004
  

       "...and we want to slice these carrots very thinly and--ow! Oh, this would be a perfect opportunity to discuss platelets and blood clotting..."
Etymon, Jan 28 2004
  

       We did something like this in high school chemistry, as our "right before Christmas" lab. Following the experiment's instructions accurately got you peanut brittle. :)   

       I do think Alton does a great job of discussing food science, both on his show and in his book. But I think your specific focus would be good too. And given that my kids like to watch cooking shows, you might even be able to use it to educate the younger set. I'll vote for it.
gamerchyk, Feb 25 2004
  

       There was certainly a magic school bus episode about this.
trebek, Feb 25 2004
  

       lets, i have to take issue with this as it is incorrect:   

       What like: 1.) Using Parents Computer - (skinniest)   

       2.) Programmer - (plump)   

       3.) Trekkie - (cupcake fiend)   

         

         

       1) 1st job just moved out aka student   

       2) living at home-(plumpish)   

       3.) Programmer - (plump)   

       4.) Trekkie - (cupcake fiend)
engineer1, Feb 25 2004
  

       I have a very similar cook book. (rebunned) +
sartep, Jul 20 2004
  

       I think that this would be an excellent idea.....it would work on more than one level as far as teaching and it sounds like fun too
BIGIRISH, Jul 20 2004
  

       A far, far better McGee is "On Food and Cooking." I owe that book a debt of gratitude for so greatly enhancing my understanding of the reactions that take place in cooking. No recipes at all, though.
bristolz, Jul 20 2004
  

       They have a show like this in the U.S. on the Food Network. It's called "Good Eats" . but, i'll bun you anyway.
PinkDrink, Jul 20 2004
  

       My father was a chemist A chemist he's no more. 'Cause what he thought was H2O Was H2SO4.
bobad, Oct 08 2004
  

       //LN icecream is just about the only food where making it is more fun than eating it.//
Oh I don't know, cooking brussel sprouts certainly isn't as much fun as making LN icecream, but it beats eating them.
stilgar, Oct 09 2004
  

       what [hazel] said/linked about Heston Blumenthal - Also, now it's 2009, do Geeks still exist as an identifiable demographic, or has that particular marketing niche been filled in now?   

       Come to think of it, I can't think of any faddishly fashionable demographic descriptions since "Geek Chic", "Metrosexual" or "Shoreditch Wanker" and all of those have to be at least 5 years old - what's going on?
zen_tom, Jun 04 2009
  

       I think everyone is just a member of the "angry public" now.
DrBob, Jun 04 2009
  

       bah... thought it was a takeoff on "To Serve Man"... [+] anyways
FlyingToaster, Jun 05 2009
  
      
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