Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Top Cooking Blogs and Websites

Great Blogs! Better than this one!

 The online world is filled with thousands...maybe millions of food blogs, and websites. These blogs vary from how to blogs, to recipe blogs, chef blogs, reference blogs and so on. Their quality is all over the board. Some are reliable, some are merely trying to get traffic(not sure where this blog fits in). It can make it difficult when you are trying to research a new dish, or understand some technique that only 5 people in the world know.

That doesn't mean it is impossible to find good food blogs and websites.

 I know I had a lot of questions. How do you find the food blogs that can actually help you? How do you know which ones have recipes that are reliable? As a cook I was constantly looking through sites, books and every resource possible to learn about food. There are many great ones, but these are my favorite websites and blogs. They all do a wonderful job pouring new light into food and adding more information into the culinary field. They answer some of the most obscure questions about food, if you are willing to look and find it.

So without further ado, a list of my favorite food blogs and websites!


Modernist Cuisine  

 

 For those who haven't yet heard of Modernist Cusine(It also has a$500 price tag..). Here is a short background. Modernist Cuisine was a development kitchen started by a company called Intellectual Ventures. One of the co-founders is Nathan Myhrvold. He used to be the CTO of Microsoft and now owns a large portion of Intellectual Ventures.

Why is this important to chefs and cooks you may ask? In 2011 Intellectual ventures put out an in depth series of books called Modernist Cuisine that looks at food, cooking techniques, cooking equipment, etc on a very granule scale. They analyzed molecular structure, specific molecules, heat, custards, eggs, foams and 5 more books worth of information. These books are a combination of beautiful pictures, engineer like diagrams and descriptions and loads of scientific words and explanations. The series has some similar traits with Escoffier "A Guide to Modern Cooking". It is a collection of several chefs, scientist and writers work. There are years behind this book of research and cooking. Each of the books on its own are as thick as a college text book and there are 5 of them. Intellectual Ventures contributed a very big chunk of knowledge to the food industry. Some of the places I worked actually relied on some of the recipes. I worked places that used the book to make fancy version of Kraft singles with white chedder and black truffles, that recipe comes fromt he best burger recipe in Modernist. Still other places merely use it for inspiration and understanding food better!

Overall, Modernist is pretty amazing. There blog is awesome too! They keep you up to date with wha they are working on. Most recently, they have been keeping readers updated on their book "Modernist Bread". As of now, it is still on pre-order. The book will discuss concepts like, How to make the best bread, starters, what oven should you use to bake bread, yeast and so on. Similar to the previous modernist, this series also has about 5-6 books. I know I am speculating...but I am sure it will be amazing! If you have ever watched the Harvard food talks, you can see a lot of Intellectual Ventures ideas play through out. They have done some pretty amazing work.

Chef Steps


Have you ever wanted to cook restaurant quality dishes in your own home? Maybe, you want to use some of the modern techniques you saw at your favorite gastro pub. Chefsteps is a pretty amazing site that has artfully crafted demos and how-tos for both advanced and simple cooking techniques. They have made videos that are easy to follow and paired them with a modern website that makes it easy to find what you are looking for.

Not only do they demonstrate techniques. Chefsteps also does a great job at showing how to combine all those techniques into dishes to entertain guests. Often, these dishes really look like they could be served at a 5 star restaurant. Not only does Chefsteps demo good technique, they are great teachers. They show how to really start understanding food, flavors, techniques and how to combine them all together. From a cooks perspective, this is awesome. You should really check out the site!


AltonBrown.com


I started my culinary career around the tail end of Alton Brown's career on Good Eats. The last show was around 2011 and I started cooking around 2009-2010 ish. He was one of the first people to really go in depth in food on TV. Sure there were amazing books like Harold Mcgee's On Food And Cooking and plenty of classic modulirized specialty books. However, there is nothing quite like visual aids. Alton Brown was amazing with his visuals and anecdotal explanations. Every one of his shows was a combination of comedy, education, and food. I think you could liken him to Bill Nye, in sense of food science(Yes, I get it, engineers think they are the greatest science, you guys can have the  title ).  Similar to Bill Nye, Alton Brown wanted to create a show that explored food and educated the populace of America (At that time, food shows were poor and limited). He challenged the norm.

If you aren't sure of who I am talking about, you might also know him as the commentator of Iron Chef America. With his knowledge of food, Alton makes a great News like pundit who comments on all the Chefs doings and ingredient choices. Whether the food is foreign or familiar, he always some odd fact to share and help the viewers at home learn.

His website is no different! He has a boat load of videos and other resources to help the home cook learn about food! Not just food though. Alton is famous for helping home cooks understand equipment, and is a little bit of a Macgyver. I have seen a show where he built a smoke out of a cardboard box and a small gel fire thing. My second favorite thing about Alton Brown, is his method of exposing the uselessness of unitaskers. Tools in the kitchen that only serve one purpose (besides a fire extinguisher, that only has one purpose...unless in a zombie apocalypse). If you don't know what the first reason is, it is because he does a great job making food science easy to understand.




Ideas In Food

Let's go back to 2004, back when the blogs were really taking off and the internet really began to take off(e.g. Facebook was started). A blog called Ideas in Food was started by Aki Kamozawa & H. Alexander Talbot. Their goal was to track their work in restaurant kitchens as they worked through dishes, books and so forth. It became a place for chefs to learn, gain insight and well, get some ideas about food! Ideas In Food is a great combination of recipes, failed and successful recipes, and just notes on preparing food better. Personally, I have mostly read the bookIdeas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work and I loved it. It is not the $500 modernist cuisine. However, it really does an amazing job analyzing recipes, ingredients, and techniques. If you just need a good hand book/notebook style blog. Ideas in Food is great! They have great pictures, great walk throughs and solid experience. They really try to teach cooks and chefs and help inspire both he home cook and culinary expert.




Nordic Food Lab 

When I worked at the Herbfarm. This was one of my favorite blogs to read. Not just because Nordic Food was in (is it still hip?).  Nope, but because they really went at food. Unlike all the other restaurants at the time, that were relying on Modernist Cuisine to be their inspiration and innovation source. This team of Chefs and scientist were actually researching old foods and techniques to develop new ideas! They came up with some crazy concepts.

Have you ever thought to use pig blood instead of egg whites in macrons? I haven't...until I read the Nordic Food blog. They might not have been the first person to try them...but it is where I ran into the idea. Their analysis of shared flavor compounds is spectacular! Not only do they do a great job discussing the subject of what foods share what compounds and possibly how that plays a role in flavors that work together. They also have great info-graphics. Being that I also work int he realm of data science and data analytics, I was very please with their visualizations. I don't think you see that level of description in some top notch data science consulting companies. They really have a group of story tellers over at the Nordic Food Lab. They can really pour out a lot of science and food in one quick post. The Food Lab even has a boat where they conduct some of their experience. One example is making sour kraut 30 meters below sea level!


Seattle Food Geek

 

Scott Heimendinger's blog is probably the first blog I ran into as a Chef. Scott himself has a very interesting career path. He went from the software field, to being (in his own words) a terrible food blogger, then to amazing food blogger and currently is the technical director at Modernist Cuisine. You will notice that I have several Modernist Cuisine mentions here. That really is an accident. I didn't try to make a post that supported Modernist..I guess the blogs I follow have a lot of ties to Modernist.

Taking Modernist out of the picture. Scott Heimendinger's blog, Seattle Food Geek is a combination of videos, blog posts, and even a DIY immersion circulator walk through. It isn't just food, he has some talks that gives at various conferences as well. So whether you are looking for inspiration, or food. Seattle Food Geek supplies both! It is a great blog...maybe I am just partial because it is the first blog I started following.



Cooks Illustrated



Cooks Illustrated is an all around amazing resource. Whether you are online, or reading their magazine. I think they were the first set of magazines that did recipes well and maybe the only. Sure, you could buy Food and Wine, but the recipes share more similarities with newspaper recipes scraped together to meet some quota of space vs. real, tested, and true recipes. On top of that, they really do a great job of going into detail about food and how it works. Another pattern you might have noticed about me. I love it when blogs go in depth about anything. You can't just understand the top level of food. You have to immerse yourself it in, dig deeply into it.



All of the blogs and websites above do a great job of getting into food. They really get into the weeds. They offer a beautiful amount of insight and inspiration. Check it out and feel free to share you favorite blogs below!

Side note:

On top of these awesome food websites, I would also recommend looking up the Harvard Food Talks! Those don't have a site, but they are all on Youtube, and they are great. They usually have about 15 minutes of science and 45 minutes of food demos that involve the science earlier explained. They are filled with amazing speakers, food concepts and new dish ideas!


All of the links to products are Amazon Affiliate links. I would like to be candid that I do receive a percentage of the purchase price. That being said, all the products I reference I have either used or own. I want to help people looking for products anyway! I don’t want people buying things that won’t benefit them.
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Tags: Best Food Blogs, Blogs, How to write a food blog, Food, Chef life, Chefs, Ideas in Food, Modernist Cuisine, Modernist Bread; chef steps

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