About Jeff Potter

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Hello World! I’m Jeff Potter. I’ve been curious about how food works all my life. My first culinary memories are of my dad, a physicist, teaching me how to make pancakes. Making pancakes with him is one of my fondest memories — and it’s the first recipe I include in my book. (Click here to see the Internet Average Pancakes recipe.)

The kitchen can be a fun, interesting, and sometimes challenging place.  When I was growing up, my family used food as a way to connect, grilling burgers for Sunday Football and feasting on turkey during Thanksgiving. When I left for college, I discovered how little I knew. My parents had taken time to cook with me and we’d eat together, but I’d never learned to cook chicken or sauté vegetables.

My dad's pancake recipe
This is the first recipe my parents taught me. And yes, that says the pancakes “must be poured into this shape” with a drawing of a Mickey Mouse head.

My first real challenge in learning to cook was making a good home-cooked dinner like the ones I’d grown up with. I was a culinary novice geek, not sure where to start but curious and open-minded. I eventually succeeded and now consider myself a good home cook, but could have done with fewer strange dishes in my learning process. (Pasta tossed with salmon? Chicken breasts simmered in red wine?) Much of my learning was trial and error. I’ve never enjoyed following traditional recipes and at the time there weren’t any cookbooks that taught the intuition of cooking using science explanations. While writing Cooking for Geeks, I thought of myself learning to cook—someone who wanted fun and interesting ideas to try in the kitchen but not a strict recipe that must be followed. What would I have wanted to read as I embarked on my first culinary adventures?

 A few years after graduating from college and having become comfortable cooking dinner, I started cooking for friends, throwing parties and inviting folks to join me at the dinner table. Cooking brought community, and my community, being full of geeks studying science in grad school, brought questions like “Why?” and “How?” These are the sorts of questions that aren’t easily answered by trial and error, leading to conversations and online searches about frying pans and spices and nutrition and a thousand other topics. These were the deeper, geekier questions, revealing scientific insights into ingredients and techniques, inspiring off-recipe adventures in new directions.

Then something funny happened. After I gave a talk on sous vide cooking, someone asked if I might be interested in writing a book on cooking. “Sure,” I said, “how hard can it possibly be?” (People who answer “no” to this know more than I did at the time—and as I said, I think I know even less now!) My book, Cooking for Geeks, is the result of an unimaginable amount of time spent coming up with what I consider fun, useful, and interesting culinary knowledge, intended to inspire both culinary novices and professionals alike.

If you have any questions—either on the book or on cooking science, I’d love to hear from you. Please contact me with your thoughts and questions!

Happy Cooking,
Jeff Potter

Jeff’s Bio

Jeff Potter

Jeff Potter is curious about the science of food and loves finding answers to why ingredients and recipes work the way they do. By bringing science to food-minded people—and food to science-minded people—he blends genres to educate the public about how to master the kitchen. He’s been featured in USA Today, the Today Show, and is a regular guest on Science Friday.

When not in the kitchen cooking with friends, Jeff Potter works with organizations and tech startups, building the technology behind their products. He studied computer science and visual art at Brown University. He can be found online at www.jeffpotter.org.