How I Made a 500 Pound Donut for Food Network

Jeff Potter and Team Greenspan's Monster Donut on Monster Kitchen

Yes, that’s a monster donut being hoisted around by a crane…
There are some things in life one never expects to do, and one of them is making a giant donut for a TV show for Food Network. This is the story of how I ended up doing exactly that. (Television, as I’ve written before, is a very, very weird place.)

Last fall, while on book tour for my book Cooking for Geeks, I received a call from a casting agent who was looking for a “food science geek” for “a network that deals with food” (*cough* Food Network *cough*). They were creating a show about two chefs who get into crazy bets with each other and calling it Monster Kitchen. Upon accepting the challenge, each chef would head back to their respective kitchens and, with the help of a pastry chef and a food geek, attempt to pull off the challenge.

It’s a fun spin on a reality TV competition with the potential of getting a MythBusters / Food Detectives-like angle on what’s happening scientifically. The exciting bit for me is to get people to think scientifically in the kitchen. Not sure how to make a giant donut? Break it down: can you make a one foot donut? What works at that scale, and what fails?

Continue reading How I Made a 500 Pound Donut for Food Network

D.I.Y. Book Tour: September Schedule

T Minus 24 Hours until the start of my “Do It Yourself” Book Tour. First stop? Washington D.C. Then Florida, Texas, Toronto, New York, Pittsburgh, Chicago… and then the western half of the country.

Here’s the first half of my book tour. Live in one of these places or know somebody who does? Please help me get the word out! I’ll be doing book talks, demos, Q&As, and exploring the local food scenes in each of these places. Snag a book—preferably one from me, but happy to sign any copy, of course!—and come meet me.

My october schedule will be out in a few weeks. Live in the LA Area, Seattle, Portland, or the Bay Area? Want to help out? Help me organize a talk.

Here’s a list of the dates and venues where I’ll be talking. Continue reading D.I.Y. Book Tour: September Schedule

The D.I.Y. Book Tour — Where should I go??


Dear Internet,

I’m organizing a book tour and need your help. Where should I go?

Here’s the deal:

  • JetBlue is selling “All You Can Jet” passes. I bought one. So, I can go ANYWHERE JetBlue flies between Sept 7th and October 6th. Woohoo!!!

This is a low-budget production. I love my publisher, but they don’t send authors on book tours. In fact, most publishers don’t do this anymore, ’cause the Internet makes it moot. But I want to get out of Cambridge, “see the world” (or at least the American portion), and meet people! But “real” book tours—you know, in bookstores—are set up many many months in advance. My local two indys, who I love, both told me “we’re booked until December.” So…

  • Why not do a book tour like musicians do house concerts? Find a space—your house, a community center, a nice park (++ for w/ grill)—and I’ll come sign books, give a talk, and hang out. You’d be the organizer, just like a house concert. I’ll provide the entertainment. =-) Oh, and I’d list the event on my website, tweet, and fb post; but you’d need to do some publicity in your city, too. (Bonus points for getting local journalists and bloggers to come.)

But what about… well, the books? Yeah, that’s a problem. Bookstores normally take care of that for author signings. And I’m not going to haul inventory around with me, never mind the headache that would be collecting cash, dealing with taxes, etc. But…

  • You’d need to buy a BOX of books—20 copies. My publisher can drop-ship them to me to you in your city. You’d then be responsible for splitting up the copies between whoever attends the talk and collecting cash from them. Selling the books this way also covers my costs—trust me, I’m not making a profit, but if I sell them directly, as opposed to doing it through a bookstore, I get the difference between wholesale and retail, which can just barely cover food, car rentals, and crash space.

This idea is just crazy enough that it might actually work. But I need help: specifically, I need organizers in each place to get the ball rolling. So: want me to come do an event with you?

Continue reading The D.I.Y. Book Tour — Where should I go??

NPR’s Science Friday & Cooking for Geeks

Jeff Potter, author of Cooking for Geeks, with Ira Flatow, host of NPR's Science Friday

I had the privilege of being on NPR’s Science Friday last Friday. In a word, it was amazing. If you haven’t listened to the podcast yet, click here to listen to an MP3 of me on NPR (file size: 16 MB; runtime: 35 minutes).

Things that happened to me as a result of being on NPR:

1. I heard from people I hadn’t thought of in years. High school teachers of mine. Friends of my ex. Even a childhood friend who lived a few doors down from me when growing up, whom I’ve not thought about for 15 years. Her dad had heard the NPR story and passed it along. Amazing.

2. My book went to #1 in Amazon’s Food, Cooking and Wine section, and up to #37 in books. That’s #37 across all books. Amazing. I am honored and deeply humbled to have been the #1 top-selling cookbook in America, even if for only a weekend.

Continue reading NPR’s Science Friday & Cooking for Geeks

Book Club – Oct 29th, 2009

The following is a guest post by Tim Hwang.

[flickr size=”medium” float=”center”]4058730986[/flickr]

Last week I had the pleasure, along with the eminently awesome Martin and Laura Wattenberg, to swing by Jeff’s place and get a taste of the stuff he’s been cooking up lately for his book. The long and short of it was that it was epic — completely blew my usual humdrum geek-dude diet of ramen and cold delivery pizza right out of the water. At this point, I have to admit that I’m thinking that it’ll be worth picking up the book to fend off the approaching onset of malnutrition and scurvy (to which I’m sure geeks world-round will have Jeff to thank once this book comes out)

Continue reading Book Club – Oct 29th, 2009

Book Club – October 15th, 2009 Edition

This is a guest post by Schuyler Towne. Also attending Book Club that night: Andrew Sempere, Anindita Basu, Shimon Rura, and Sophia Roosth.

[flickr size=”medium” float=”center”]4016221181[/flickr]

It had been a rough week. Beaten up at work, tension with my friends, and a gutting morning of therapy had conspired to alter my food cravings for the worse. Everything came to a head with with strawberry cream cheese, straight from the container. I’m not asking for forgiveness, I am, in fact, absolutely unapologetic about shoving 4oz of sweet sweet strawberry cream cheese straight down my already trepidatious GI tract. I only mention it to offer you my state of mind when I arrived at Jeff’s lovely home. Both I, and my palette, were cold, exhausted and not feeling too adventurous.

Continue reading Book Club – October 15th, 2009 Edition

Book Club – Oct 8th, 2009 Edition

This is a guest post by Naveen Sinha. Also present: Mac Cowell, Steve Hershman, and Ozge Guzelsu.

[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157622439631667″]

The meal this evening explored the full temperature range available with modern cooking methods: 900 F down to -321 F.

Continue reading Book Club – Oct 8th, 2009 Edition

Book Club – Oct 1st, 2009 Edition

The following is a guest post by Andrew Shalit.

[flickr size=”medium” float=”center”]3987341426[/flickr]

October 1st was Superheated Cast Iron Pizza night at the Cooking for Geeks Book Club. If you’ve ever wondered how you could make a great pizza without the benefit of an oven, tonight was your night. [flickr size=”small”]3983212655[/flickr]

Continue reading Book Club – Oct 1st, 2009 Edition

Book Club – Sept 24th, 2009 Edition

The following is a guest post by Christine Liu. All photos are by Shimon Rura.

[flickr size=”medium” float=”center”]3952899969[/flickr]

We witnessed much on the fateful book club dinner on September 24, 2009: a lot of hocus-pocus, daring acts of suspense, and stuffing strange objects in our gullets in the spirit of sheer adventure not typically seen.

Present this evening, along with host and unabashed warranty-voider (more on that later) Jeff Potter, were Tina Downey, Christine Liu (pictured above), Shimon Rura, and Andrew Sempere.

Continue reading Book Club – Sept 24th, 2009 Edition

Book Club: Sept 10th, 2009 Edition

The following is a guest post by Ed & Jamie
[flickr size=”medium” float=”center”]3928231409[/flickr]

At the table this evening were Shimon, Ed, and Jamie, with Shimon volunteering for camera duty. Tonight’s experiments: homemade mozzarella cheese and sous vide chicken.

Continue reading Book Club: Sept 10th, 2009 Edition

Book Club – Sept 3rd, 2009 Edition

The following is a guest post by Shimon Rura. All photos and text are from him.
[flickr size=”medium” float=”center”]3927035847[/flickr]

On Thursday evenings, Jeff Potter invites friends to dinner at his place. New ideas are tested and discussed, with Jeff taking copious notes before, during, and after each course.

At the table this evening were (from left to right above): Mac Cowell, Cynthia, Steve, Jeff, and Sophia. I’m Shimon Rura behind the camera.

This was the first “book club” dinner.

Continue reading Book Club – Sept 3rd, 2009 Edition

Subversive Supper’s Inaugural Dinner

[flickr size=”medium” float=”center”]3927831866[/flickr]
Last night marked the inaugural dinner of the “Subversive Supper” movement in Boston: a private dinner for 16 created with the hopes of bringing tech hackers and food industry pros together to experience food in a more informal environment than possible at a restaurant.
Continue reading Subversive Supper’s Inaugural Dinner