Nathan Myhrvold TED Talk Reveals Crazy Food Photo Technique Used In 'Modernist Cuisine'

How This Photo Was Taken

One ballyhooed feature of Nathan Myhrvold's mammoth cooking tome Modernist Cuisine was its photography. Readers marveled at photos of popcorn popping taken at super-high speed. But the most remarked-upon series of photos involved mystifying cross-sections of food being cooked—in an oven, in pots and pans, in microwaves. Even Michael Ruhlman, in his relatively critical review of the book in the New York Times, wrote:

The food photography is excellent, but even more compelling are the 36 illustrated photographs using kitchen tools and appliances (a pressure cooker, a wok, a barbecue grill) that have been cut in half using an “abrasive water-jet cutter, an electrical discharge machining system, and other machine-shop tools,” the authors write, to help readers visualize what is happening inside a cooking vessel.

It was unclear how exactly they managed the actual dissection—but not anymore, thanks to Nathan Myhrvold's recent TED Talk. It turns out that the best way to photograph half a wok, or half an oven, or half a charcoal grill, is LITERALLY to cut to it in half. It's at least as tricky as it sounds—but Myhrvold is a man who knows how to solve tricky problems.

Here's the video:

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