Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food

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"O'Reilly Media, Inc.", Jul 20, 2010 - Cooking - 432 pages
9 Reviews

Are you the innovative type, the cook who marches to a different drummer -- used to expressing your creativity instead of just following recipes? Are you interested in the science behind what happens to food while it's cooking? Do you want to learn what makes a recipe work so you can improvise and create your own unique dish?

More than just a cookbook, Cooking for Geeks applies your curiosity to discovery, inspiration, and invention in the kitchen. Why is medium-rare steak so popular? Why do we bake some things at 350° F/175° C and others at 375° F/190° C? And how quickly does a pizza cook if we overclock an oven to 1,000° F/540° C? Author and cooking geek Jeff Potter provides the answers and offers a unique take on recipes -- from the sweet (a "mean" chocolate chip cookie) to the savory (duck confit sugo).

This book is an excellent and intriguing resource for anyone who wants to experiment with cooking, even if you don't consider yourself a geek.

  • Initialize your kitchen and calibrate your tools
  • Learn about the important reactions in cooking, such as protein denaturation, Maillard reactions, and caramelization, and how they impact the foods we cook
  • Play with your food using hydrocolloids and sous vide cooking
  • Gain firsthand insights from interviews with researchers, food scientists, knife experts, chefs, writers, and more, including author Harold McGee, TV personality Adam Savage, chemist Hervé This, and xkcd

"My own session with the book made me feel a lot more confident in my cooking."

--Monica Racic,The New Yorker

"I LOVE this book. It's inspiring, invigorating, and damned fun to spend time inside the mind of 'big picture' cooking. I'm Hungry!"

--Adam Savage, co-host of Discovery Channel's MythBusters

"In his enchanting, funny, and informative book, Cooking for Geeks (O'Reilly), Jeff Potter tells us why things work in the kitchen and why they don't."

-- Barbara Hanson, NewYork Daily News


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User Review  - chazmataz -

This book arrived quickly and in pristine condition. It is very entertaining to read. Have learned a lot that will hopefully improve my cooking skills along with my knowledge base. Read full review

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being a geek myself and a part-time chef with a background in chemistry I am really appreciating this book.
well if you are interested in a recipe book, kind of "Granma recipes", forget this one
, but there are lots of useful tips to gain that sort of curious and "geek" attitude that can guide you through the cuisine mysteries and stages.
even more important the book helps in developing the mind set of a chef the organisational approach, having all things organised, at least in your mind, is the most valuable skill you need to acquire, the same I try to give when teaching a cooking lesson.


Hello Kitchen
Initializing the Kitchen
Choosing Your Inputs
Time and Temperature
Air Bakings Key Variable
Playing with Chemicals
Fun with Hardware
Cooking Around Allergies

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About the author (2010)

Jeff Potter is curious about the science of food and loves finding answers to why ingredients and recipes work the way they do. By bringing science to food-minded people--and food to science-minded people--he blends genres to educate the public about how to master the kitchen. He's been featured in USA Today, the Today Show, and is a regular guest on Science Friday. He's even had the pleasure (and terror) of making a 500-pound donut for Food Network. A frequent speaker, he's spoken across the globe, from Australia's National Science Week to schools in Washington DC. When not in the kitchen cooking with friends, Jeff Potter works with organizations and tech startups, building the technology behind their products. He studied computer science and visual art at Brown University. He can be found online at

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