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Hottest Name in Food World, Nathan Myhrvold, Becomes Honorary CIA Alumnus

news2_april11Fresh off visits to the “Today” show and “Colbert Report,” Dr. Nathan Myhrvold came to The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) on March 24, where he delivered the baccalaureate graduation address. During commencement exercises, Myhrvold was named an honorary alumnus of the college by CIA President Dr. Tim Ryan, CMC.

While on campus, the former Microsoft executive also gave a presentation attended by 1,000 students in the college's gymnasium and simulcast to classrooms on campus. Myhrvold's 2,400-page Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking is generating the biggest buzz in the food world in years. Ryan was recently quoted in USA Today, calling it "one of the most important cookbooks of all time." Ryan has been in discussions with Myhrvold to consider how knowledge from Modernist Cuisine can be incorporated into the college's curriculum.

Myhrvold told the families of the 64 graduates of one way the culinary world is changing: "Twenty or 30 years ago, if your son or daughter was a chef, you wouldn't brag about it at a cocktail party. Today you can brag." He then advised the recipients of bachelor's degrees in culinary-arts management and baking-and-pastry-arts management, "You've received the greatest culinary education anyone can receive. But it won't be enough. Today is not the day you stop learning. It's the day you start."

In addition to his interest in food, Myhrvold, 51, is a physicist and inventor. And cooking is more than just a hobby for this Renaissance man. He won several first-place awards at the World Barbecue Championships in Memphis, Tenn., in the early 1990s and served as the chief gastronomic officer for the Zagat Survey. Modernist Cuisine is the result of his mission to create the world's most comprehensive cookbook. Despite a $625 price tag, it immediately sold out its initial press run.

During his 14-year tenure with Microsoft, Myhrvold was the company's chief strategist and chief technology officer. Before that, he worked with Stephen Hawking on cosmology and quantum field theories. He now runs Intellectual Ventures, a patent acquisition company he founded in 2000.