Can the world of food and cuisine be broken down into just eight ingredients? That’s the argument made by Ali Bouzari, who joins host Shari Bayer, in his latest book. ‘Ingredient’ takes a capital ‘I’ because they’re building blocks to be used when “trying to find out what makes this recipe so good or when it’s falling short.”

The eight Ingredients are Water, Sugars, Carbs, Lipids, Proteins, Minerals, Gases, and Heat, and thinking about what they bring to your dishes is a smart way to up your game. Bouzari would know: he’s a chef with a Ph.D. in food biochemistry. His insights are accompanied by illustrations by Jeff Delierre and photographs by National Geographic Explorer Jason Jaacks.

Ingredient book Ali Bouzari

“This book isn’t just for Thomas Keller and chefs in that upper stratosphere. It’s for a college student just trying to figure out how to keep ramen noodles from sticking together. […] The point of it is to give you a roadmap that can stick in your head and you can follow regardless of what is physically in front of you in the pan.” [26:40] – Ali Bouzari