Unique photo exhibit shows how our food cooks

Nathan Myhrvold dissected food, pots and pans, blenders, ovens and barbecue grills to show how things cook in ways never seen before.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Whether you like to cook or not, there's a certain magic to preparing food because so much of it happens out of sight behind an oven door or under the dome of a barbecue grill. But an unusual photo exhibit opening in San Jose is showing food in a whole different light - taking a technological approach to explaining the physics of food and cooking.

"Sometimes you need a tool; sometimes you need technology to see things differently, and that's what this exhibit is all about," Tech Museum President Tim Ritchie said. "It's seeing food and seeing beauty in different ways because of the use of technology."

The photos came about because Nathan Myhrvold, the former chief technology officer at Microsoft, got interested in cooking. He worked in a Seattle restaurant for a year. He even went to cooking school in France. That led to a multi-volume, 2,500 page set of books called "Modernist Cuisine."

His photos bring new meaning to the phrase, a feast for the eyes. He gets excited about what he calls an exploded diagram of a burger.

"Not only is it kind of cool looking, it shows you how to assemble it," Myhrvold said. "It shows you all of the layers very clearly and distinctly, whereas once you squish it all under the burger, you can't see the layers anymore, so you can't see how you made it."

He dissected food, but he also dissected pots and pans, blenders, ovens and barbecue grills to show how things cook in ways never seen before.

"With those photos, it's just way more approachable," Myhrvold said. "So, yeah, I understand what happens in my broiler when I broil something. I understand what happens when I roast a turkey."

Myhrvold figured the Tech Musuem was an ideal venue for the exhibit, located where imagination and innovation are woven into the fabric of Silicon Valley.

Some people cook, but all people eat.

"Many of our shots will look in great detail at food most people glance over," Myhrvold said. "I would love to have people look more closely at their food afterwards."

The Photography of Modernist Cuisine runs through Sept. 1.
Related Topics:
food art museum exhibit museums San Jose tech museum of innovation
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