‘Fake Shack’ Creator Kenji Alt Scores Six-Figure Book Deal

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Photo: Courtesy of Kenji Alt

James Kenji Lopez-Alt, the MIT grad who is better known as Kenji Alt to readers of Serious Eats, Goodeater, and Cooks Illustrated (Grub Street readers will recall him reverse engineering the Spotted Pigs deviled eggs) has sold a book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, to W.W. Norton (curiously, his editor is Maria Guarnaschelli, mother of Butter chef Alex, and his agent is Vicky Bijur, wife of Serious Eats honcho Ed Levine). Kenji confirms that twelve publishers bid on the book, and he ended up selling it for six figures. So what got the publishing world so stirred up earlier this week?

Alt tells us a little about his plan for the 300-page, ten-chapter tome, which will consist of all-new material: What Im doing is taking classic, American foods like fried chicken, roast beef, mashed potatoes, barbecue, hamburgers, and fries and using them as a jumping-off point to explain various principles of food science. There will, of course, be hacks along the lines of his method of cooking brick-oven-style pizza, but dont expect re-creations of restaurant dishes la Fake Shack its more the ultimate hamburger or ultimate fried chicken. The Food Lab will hit bookshelves in the fall of next year.