British Columbia

Filling up on bread: renowned pastry chef talks bread at Vancouver food event

Bread might seem like an uncomplicated food, but in reality it’s extremely scientific. One of the world's foremost experts on the subject, pastry chef Francisco Migoya, recently co-authored a series of books on bread. Modernist Bread covers everything from the science of sourdough to the background of brioche.

'Bread may seem simple but it’s actually highly complex,' says food columnist.

The recipes in Modernist Bread cover everything bread, from ancient grain and focaccia to bao buns and injera, an Ethiopian fermented sourdough flatbread. (Modernist Cuisine)

Bread might seem like an uncomplicated food, but in reality it's extremely scientific.

One of the world's foremost experts on the subject, pastry chef Francisco Migoya, recently co-authored a series of books on bread. Modernist Bread covers everything from the science of sourdough to the background of brioche.

"Bread may seem simple but it's actually highly complex," On the Coast food columnist Gail Johnson told host Gloria Makarenko.

"It takes harnessing the power of microorganisms that ferment, so it's a living thing,"

Migoya will be in Vancouver Nov. 17 to speak about all things bread. 

It's more than just a loaf

Migoya, originally from Mexico City, and co-author Nathan Myhrvold launched the set of five books and a condensed kitchen manual in 2017. The compilation is nearly 2,500 pages in length with more than 3,000 photos and 1,500 recipes.

Modernist Bread covers the history of bread (shown above in a handful of its many forms), which has been integral to human kind; the staple was one of the world’s first foods, according to food columnist Gail Johnson. (Modernist Cuisine)

Migoya is head chef of Modernist Cuisine — an interdisciplinary team in Bellevue, Wash, founded and led by Myhrvold. The group includes scientists and research and development chefs who work to advance culinary art through experiment, scientific knowledge and culinary creativity.

Migoya and Myhrvold spent more than four years researching and writing Modernist Bread. During that time, they made more than 36,000 loaves with over 19 tons of flour, says Johnson.

"The baking process is so technical that even tiny variations can make huge differences in the outcome," says Johnson.

Modernist Bread covers the history of bread, which has been integral to human kind; the staple was one of the world's first foods, according to Johnson.

One of the world's foremost experts on bread, pastry chef Francisco Migoya co-authored Modernist Bread, which covers everything from the science of sourdough to the background of brioche. (Modernist Cuisine)

The recipes in the book cover everything from ancient grain and focaccia to bao buns and injera, an Ethiopian fermented sourdough flatbread.

Migoya and Myhrvold delve into the structure of gluten, the lifecycle of grain and the physics of different ovens. They look at the best way to get seeds to stick to bread, and why brioche is lighter than whipped cream.

Migoya will be speaking in Vancouver at Hawkers Market for the Epic Indie Food & Music Market on Saturday, Nov. 17.

Listen to the full food column here:

Bread might seem simple, but it's actually highly scientific. One of the world's foremost experts on the subject has just co-authored giant book on bread and On the Coast food columnist Gail Johnson tells us more. 6:51

With files from On the Coast and Gail Johnson.