Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
– Harold McGee
ChefSteps exists to inspire creativity and encourage expertise in the kitchen. Drawing on our years of combined culinary experience, we create hands-on online classes about food and cooking that are both informative and entertaining. We don’t tell you how to sharpen your knife, break down a halibut, or make macarons from scratch, we show you. In addition, we’re building a living, breathing gallery of free-to-learn techniques, recipes, tools, and ideas developed by our award-winning culinary team. Whether you’re a home cook, a professional chef, or just love watching cooks work, there’s something here to discover.
Cooking is an ancient art and science, an accumulated body of knowledge passed down through generations, which we modify every day. At ChefSteps, we’re recording that evolution in real time: Our classes, recipes, techniques, and videos give you the foundational knowledge and inspiration you need to build on the traditions and discoveries of others, and to begin to break the rules to create your own recipes and techniques. Here, we will all grow and learn from each other’s triumphs and failures, as we shape new culinary traditions for the next generation of cooks.
Frankly, we think you should use this site in any way you please, but here are some things you might want to know:
All of our recipes are measured in weight, rather than volume. We very firmly believe that weighing ingredients makes cooking easier, faster, and more fun, and we encourage you to try it. (Seriously, it will change your life, and they’re only $20).
Some of our recipes call for unfamiliar ingredients. We come from professional cooking backgrounds, so we’re used to adding a little guar gum, xanthan, and soy lecithin to our recipes from time to time. (And though these ingredients may sound like chemicals, they're actually all derived from natural sources.) Part of our mission here at ChefSteps is to make the unfamiliar familiar. Thus, we’ll show you where to buy anything you can’t find at your local grocery store, and we'll also explain how and why different ingredients work. And if you need help finding solutions or substitutions, just ask!
We believe that heat is an ingredient, and can be added to recipes in a measured amounts to ensure perfect results every time. Understanding how heat flows in the kitchen will sharpen your culinary intuition, preparing you to handle any culinary challenge. Thus, we encourage you to invest in a thermometer (they’re only $20, too) as most of our recipes and activities rely on accurate temperature measurement. This way, the result in your kitchen will be as close as possible to the result we enjoyed in ours.
We believe that cooking is inherently communal. That’s why we maintain a lively forum on the site that’s dedicated to the exchange of ideas. We visit the forum regularly to answer your questions and marvel at your creations. If you have a question about any recipe or video, you can ask it right there on the bottom of the recipe page, and receive a response within minutes. Most importantly, we create much of our content based on your suggestions, interests, and feedback, so please keep in touch, and we’ll do the same.
We use some high-tech equipment that’s not available to every cook. But that doesn’t mean this site is not for you. Whenever possible, we show you where to buy the stuff you may not have, but you don’t need to spend a fortune to try new things. We’ve devised some home cooking methods that achieve great results without all the equipment. The bottom line is: Just because you don’t have the exact equipment listed in our recipes, doesn’t mean you can’t do it. We challenge ourselves to think creatively about how to get around limitations in price, space, and availability, and we hope you will, too.
Great cooks need great tools and great resources to succeed. We sell a curated collection of our favorite kitchen tools in our online shop, and we provide links to other resources you might find helpful. If you love old fashioned cookbooks—we do too!—we sell a selection of the very best.
It all started at the Cooking Lab, an experimental kitchen in Bellevue, WA founded by former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myrhvold, where we collaborated on the acclaimed six-volume cooking opus Modernist Cuisine. We spent four years developing the recipes, science, and art that would eventually become the definitive guide to contemporary cooking. But after the monumental achievement of Modernist Cuisine, we wondered: What’s next?
We wanted to preserve all of the elements that made Modernist Cuisine a success—a brilliant team, a collaborative process, a focus on experimentation—so we decided to build our own experimental kitchen where we could keep doing what we love: exploring what’s possible when the art and science of cooking come together.
We built a workshop, Delve Kitchen, located in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market—just steps from the farm stands, butchers, fishmongers, and local artisans that make this the heart of Seattle’s food scene. Our space is filled with all the usual stuff you’d expect in a well-equipped kitchen, plus a number of exotic tools, technologies, and toys found only in research labs and machine shops. It’s also filled with tons of natural light and comfortable, organic materials, much unlike the stark warehouse space in which we developed Modernist Cuisine. The light, open space we created here at Delve was an inspiration for how we wanted our next venture to look and feel.
Many people assume that we’d get straight to work on a new book. And though we love big, beautiful cookbooks (and we’re always excited when new ones arrive at our kitchen), this time we wanted to do something different. Something more interactive, more flexible, more versatile; something that reflected the evolutionary nature of cooking.
So we created an online culinary workshop where we could share our ever-expanding knowledge and experience with curious cooks who want to learn the hows and whys of cooking. We built a site in the image of our kitchen: dedicated to experimentation, innovation, and research, and filled with light and color. With ChefSteps, we wanted to make the art and science of cooking accessible to anyone, novice and professional cooks alike.
Our team of 14 employees—chefs, photographers, writers, musicians, designers, and software engineers—are dedicated to making our vision a reality for you.
ChefSteps is located in 4,000 square feet of industrial space underneath Pike Place Market. Just about any food product we might want is within a few hundred yards. When you walk in the front door, you are in a kitchen, but not like any you have ever seen before. Sure, there is a stove, but there are also centrifuges, rotor-stator homogenizers, immersion circulators by the case lot, and cabinets full of every imaginable hydrocolloid.
A typical day around here is amazing. At any given time, Ben may be working on a novel vegan egg replacer while Grant is preparing an 18 course tasting menu for six and advising Nick on a packaged food project. Ryan and Kristina are shooting and editing incredible video and photos for the site. Chris is leading a session for future blender products with a team from Waring; oh and Neal Stephenson happens to be part of the group doing the brainstorming. On day 2, blenders are disassembled, Nathan Pegram quickly fabricates dangerous new prototype accessories in the machine shop, and then everything is welded back together and quickly torture tested in the kitchen.
Ryan was the principal photographer and photo editor for Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. Smith’s work has been featured by PPN, Photographer, Life, Time, The New York Times, Feature Shoot, Quo, and Abduzeedo.
Chris is the principal coauthor of the acclaimed and world-wide bestselling six-volume work Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. Modernist Cuisine was named the 2012 Cookbook of the Year and Best Professional Cookbook of the year by the James Beard Foundation. Chris was also the founding chef of Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen, the secret culinary laboratory behind the innovative dishes served at one of the best restaurants in the world. Prior to becoming a chef, he completed degrees in theoretical mathematics and biochemistry.
Grant was the first development chef hired by the Modernist Cuisine team. Prior to that, he was chef de cuisine at Busaba in Mumbai and Mistral in Seattle, and he served as head development chef at Delicious Planet. He has cooked for Pascal Barbot at L’Astrance, worked with Pierre Hermé’s team at Grégoire-Ferrandi, and practiced butchery at Bajon Jean Pierre in Paris.
Edward spent 8 years in operations as an engineer, a production manager, and a supply chain manager. Seeking a smaller company, he has completely changed gears at ChefSteps and now wears many hats that keep the doors open, the lights on, and the development team innovating.
Michael helped bring dinosaurs and Terminators to the big screen at Industrial Light and Magic, and he spent 13 years as a senior software engineer on Adobe After Effects. His cookbook, Herbivoracious, was a finalist for a 2013 James Beard Foundation award.
Huy is a software developer who loves to build web experiences for people who love food. He studied mechanical engineering and worked for 9 years in the aerospace industry, learning to code in his free time before quitting his job to become a full-time software developer. Huy enjoys being an unofficial taste-tester for the ChefSteps kitchen, and he sees many important similarities between software development and recipe development.
Nick got his first restaurant job at age 17, washing dishes in Walla Walla, WA. He quickly fell in love with the intensity and structure of the kitchen. After attending culinary school in Oregon, Nick took on a portfolio of challenges, cooking at Seattle fine dining staple Rover's, and later at Modernist Cuisine private events. He also worked on the development team for three months at the famed two-Michelin-starred restaurant Mugaritz, in Spain.
Director of Social Media
Lorraine's multi-faceted background includes a mid-70s conceptual art school education, a decade of restaurant work, and a twenty-year real-life Mad Men stint in advertising. She now works as ChefSteps' own social media guru. Other skills include expert toddler wrangling, nerdy cookbook perusal, and the ability to both create and spot typos instantly.
Tim has done design work for a huge bank, a huge telecommunications company, and a huge e-tailer. Of course, the natural progression was to go to a small startup with only one designer. He grew up eating adobo and chili dogs.
Ben graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Throughout his college career, Ben cooked for a sorority house to help pay the bills. After school, he cooked at a fine dining restaurant in Walla Walla, WA, and spent a summer fishing in Alaska. Two years later, he was working as Sous Chef at Spur Gastropub in Seattle, when we found him and claimed him as our own.
Director of Audio
Hans is a multi instrumentalist, composer, and producer. Primarily working in soundtrack design and production consulting, he also continues to create and perform in local Seattle groups. Hans also happens to be an experienced bartender, which we take full advantage of here at ChefSteps.
Multimedia Project Manager
Kristina is a multi-talented multimedia expert. A native Oklahoman, Kristina graduated from UW with a degree in communications, and has since tackled a variety of projects for large corporations, art museums, start-up companies, and more. When she's not filming food, she creates legacy films for the elderly, and often corrals the ChefSteps team as its unofficial HR Lady.
Karen grew up in New England among family, friends, and teachers who instilled in her a deep appreciation for the power of words. She received a Bachelor's degree in English literature from Colgate University and worked on the editorial staff at Seattle Metropolitan magazine before coming to ChefSteps. A long—time habitué of kitchens—her own and some of the finest in Seattle—Karen has over the years developed a love of food, wine, and hospitality to match her fascination with words. She brings to ChefSteps her enthusiasm for both.
More obsessed with food than the rest of us.