Alexandre Stern

Monkeys in the Kitchen How Cooking Made Us Human Publication date : March 4, 2020

Alexandre Stern is an entrepreneur, consultant, and writer. Enthralled by the history of taste and food, and member of the Collège Culinaire de France, he divides his activities between the development of his gastronomy institute, advising entrepreneurs, and writing. Alexandre Stern is a graduate of the French HEC business school, New York University, and the INSEAD graduate business school.
In matters concerning food, we find ourselves today confronted with a paradox: whereas the culinary arts have achieved a level probably unprecedented in history, many, notably the poorest among us, now have access only to industrial, low-quality, unnutritious food.

Prepared dishes, ultra-processed food, industrial farms; in the past fifty years we have witnessed a dis-invention of culinary practices that had been patiently accumulated over millennia. In this context of a loss of our food bearings, what can we learn from the past?

More than any other uniquely human accomplishment, it is in fact cooking that has played the most important role in the evolution of our species. For close to three million years, our way of choosing and preparing our food has thus shaped our humanity, both on the physiological and the cultural levels.

Through a panorama of all the stages in the evolution of cooking – from hunter-gatherer societies to the industrialization of our food – the author puts in perspective the origin of our food-eating behavior. This great human epic told through the history of cooking enables us to question our current practices and what we aspire to in the future.