Nathan Myhrvold wants you to take a closer look at what you’re eating. So close, in fact, that you’ll barely recognize what’s sitting on the plate in front of you.
Myhrvold, the former Microsoft chief technology officer whose cooking experiments inspired 2011’s award-winning Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, is betting on your culinary curiosity to make his newest venture, the Modernist Cuisine Gallery (modernistcuisine.com), a success. The newly opened space on the first floor of The Forum Shops at Caesars features food as art—photos that not only make you hungry, but also make you wonder what you’re really seeing.
“There are a lot of pictures where, when I took them, I couldn’t believe that’s what the food really looked like,” Myhrvold explains during a welcome event inside Border Grill restaurant in May.
“There’s a picture in the gallery of chia seeds, and when you magnify them, holy shit, they look totally different!” he says, laughing.
Myhrvold’s fascination with cooking and photography began when he was around 9 years old, he says, when he acquired his first camera, and, coincidentally, decided to cook his family’s Thanksgiving dinner all by himself.
“The books of Modernist Cuisine gave me a chance to do both [cooking and photography], and so I thought it was possible to show people food in a way that they haven’t seen it before,” he says.
The prints on display—starting at $849 each—showcase Myhrvold’s skills as a photographer and inventor. Many of the pictures were taken with the help of robots that Myhrvold built to assist him. The Trap Door Robot was created to drop objects with precise timing. That’s evident in a print of a Campbell’s tomato soup can that was photographed falling into soup from above. Another image, of ketchup being blasted onto french fries, makes use of Myhrvold’s Condiment Cannon. The artist even employs a Saberbot, which can slice the top off a Champagne bottle while he snaps away with his camera.
Las Vegas’ reputation as a food destination and as a city of reinvention and innovation makes it the ideal testing ground for the gallery. Myhrvold’s goal is to invoke curiosity while also arousing the appetite of the viewer.
“Some of our pictures are very abstract, so they’re not gonna make you hungry,” he says. “And the others, I’m kinda hoping they make you hungry.”