Charts, Gadgets and Can Openers: Thanksgiving Cooking for Engineers

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. And if you’re an engineer, chances are you’re a fanatic somewhere in the kitchen, whether it’s experimenting with the latest gadgets or cooking methods, precision ingredients, or micro-beer brewing.

Cooking for Engineers is a gastronomical resource for analytical minds who like chillin in the kitchen. Started by Michael Chu, a computer engineer who learned to cook as a hobby, this site features everything from mathematical analysis of urban legends—like how to lose weight by drinking cold beer—to how to sharpen chef’s knives and which ovens have the smallest carbon footprint.

“It’s written and presented in what I hope is an analytical viewpoint with interesting tidbits of info that most cooks don’t bother to find out, but which engineers and science-minded folks like to know,” Chu says.

He must be on to something. Tens of thousands of fans visit his site every month.

Chu is a graduate of the College of Engineering at University of California, Berkeley, and he helped develop and design notebook computers as well as being awarded patents in computer graphics and vision. But it’s his passion for cooking that’s winning the most acclaim. Since beginning his trial-and-error experiments with food a decade ago he’s been featured in the New York Times, Wired, and Gourmet Magazine.

On Cooking for Engineers, Chu goes into great detail on the best cooking methods for bacon, how to make the perfect soft-boiled egg, and the best way to pull off beer can chicken. The site also contains lots of engineering-esque content such as a measurement conversion tool and a chart on the smoke point of oils.

“One of the things I like doing is playing with my food, and that lets me to try different things,” Chu says. “Digital technology has really been changing the way we talk about food, and science and technology are changing the way we’re eating our food and how food is being prepared.”

Chu’s a proponent of sous-vide cooking—where food is cooked in airtight plastic bags in a temperature controlled water bath—and devotes an entire section of his website to the process. You can build a sous-vide water bath at home for around $300, Chu says.

And how about spherification? Serving liquids as solids or semi-solid balls is the hot new thing in high-end cuisine, according to Chu.

Chu says he selected the name “Cooking for Engineers” on a whim. He has no idea if it means “To cook for the purposes of providing engineers with food” or “To instruct engineers in the science and art of cooking.”

Either way, Chu’s cooked up a huge success. Happy Thanksgiving and keep on cooking!

Recommended Reading for Geeky Cooks:

Photo courtesy of Cooking for Engineers

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