The food world is vast and immense, and there are many things we can learn from those that are leading the way. Food nerds make up a small portion of this group of culinary contributors, but what they add to the industry is a way to think about food that the world has never really, truly touched on before. It is a combination of dedication, exploration, and digestion that brings out the “king” in cooking.
1. Wiley Dufresne
There would be no mention of food nerds without mentioning Wylie Dufresne. Wylie is mostly responsible for popularizing the method of cooking known elegantly as molecular gastronomy. This method uses chemicals, techniques and, in some cases, heavy machinery, to flush out gourmet creations that tantalize the taste-buds. Ever eaten a beet that tastes like vanilla ice-cream? Or faux caviar? Brilliant men like Wylie have been flushing out creative cuisine for several years, but Wylie is widely recognized as the leading man. Wiley has even appeared on BravoTV’s second season of Top Chef Masters and has been nominated for a James Beard Award.
2. Alton Brown
Next on our list of food geeks is none other than my personal favorite, Alton Brown. What makes Alton so wonderful is his ability to teach people the why and how of cooking science, including the history of the food, while still managing to be entertaining and also flushing out several delicious dishes. In his show “Good Eats” we learn what makes a cake rise, how the application of heat changes a food into a different state, and why that is so important when using different techniques. One of his books, “I’m Just Here for the Food” won the 2003 James Beard Award. Food was already interesting, but Alton helps make you the expert while giving you several laughs along the way.
3. Jamie Oliver
Some may argue that Jamie Oliver does not deserve a place on the geek list. It is the opinion of this writer that Jamie Oliver is nerdy in his complete puppy love for the food he creates. Watch his show “Jamie At Home” just once and you’ll see it. He giggles like a school boy when he sees an ingredient so fresh it’s as if he hadn’t picked it off the vine yet, or when a dish comes out exactly right the volume of his voice rises in utter joy. There is no way that Jamie Oliver should not appear on this list. Jamie is also responsible for “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” show which was designed by him to change the way children eat. It’s about taking the time to teach children healthier food habits while still giving them what they love to eat. He is the uber fan when it comes to food, and that makes him a lovable nerd.
4. The Food Jammers
(Micah Donovan, Christopher Martin, and Nobu Adilman)
These three guys take cooking to the max by creating the gear needed to make certain foods. Their show “Food Jammers” on The Cooking Channel is like a cooking show meets junkyard wars. For instance, on their pasta episode, the trio created a pasta extruding machine using a car jack. Not impressive enough? How about a meat smoker made out of a filing cabinet? These guys take cooking contraptions to the extreme, and they do it in a way to show that anyone can make the kitchen gadgets you need to make the food you love.
5. Rick Bayless
Rick Bayless is considered the current expert on authentic Mexican cuisine. Many people may find this ironic, given that Rick was born in Oklahoma and currently resides in Chicago where he operates his restaurants Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. After getting married, Rick and his wife traveled the back roads and hidden food gems all around Mexico, working in restaurants to learn everything they could about the cuisine Rick loved. It is his dedication to this cuisine, and his complete and total enjoyment of spreading the love that makes him our final loveable food geek.