Tim Ferriss: “The Four-Hour Chef” | Talks at Google
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Tim Ferriss: “The Four-Hour Chef” | Talks at Google

MALE SPEAKER: So about five
years ago, I had the pleasure of introducing a new author to
an Authors at Google talk. And this author’s name
was Tim Ferriss. He had a new book that had
just come out called “The 4-Hour Workweek.” It
was a surprise hit. And it spent about four years
on the bestseller list. Not too long after, he had a
second book called “The 4-Hour Body,” which was a little bit
more about hacking the body, weight loss, nutrition. A lot of people I know
here at Google have lost a bunch of weight. I myself have lost about
20 pounds doing that. So I’m very excited to have
Tim here for his new book, “The 4-Hour Chef.” It’s a book
that starts with cooking and then goes into food
in general. It’s also a bit of a primer on
approaching any topic and learning it and learning
it towards mastery. And Tim’s here to talk
about the book, but also about other topics. And we’ll have a lot
of time for Q&A. And so I’m very excited to
have Tim here today. Please join me in
welcoming him. [APPLAUSE] TIMOTHY FERRISS: Thank
you, kind sir. Trevor was subjected to some
of my experimentation also throughout this book with
respect to food, which in the beginning was not very
pleasant at all. MALE SPEAKER: [INAUDIBLE] TIMOTHY FERRISS: So it’s been
fun to visit Google as many times as I have. And certainly in the first
visit, I had a lot more hair and many fewer book sales. But this book is perhaps
the most exciting to me of all three. So I’ll start off with a very
dramatic trailer that I think gives a basic sort
of overview. And then we’ll jump into the
presentation, which I’ll try to keep really short, or
as short as I can. And then a bunch of Q&A,
because that’s when I have the most fun. So let’s do the trailer first. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] TIMOTHY FERRISS: All right. So the presentation’s all
downhill from here. That was courtesy
of Adam Patch. Adam Patch directed and
did the post on that. There are a few things that
came up in that video that will reappear through
the presentation. It was all filmed in Seattle,
at Delve Kitchen. So if anyone’s interested in
molecular gastronomy, things like that, Chris Young, who used
to run the experimental kitchen for The Fat Duck in
London when it became number one ranked in the world, helped
with all of that, as well as with the science
section. But let’s start at
the beginning. So “The 4-Hour Chef, Accelerated
Learning for Accelerated Times–” this book
of the three has the most confusing title and subtitle
combination, I think. And that is because for the last
four or five years, my readers have been asking me
for a book on accelerated learning, mostly because of my
talk about smart drugs and language acquisition and
things like that. The problem is, writing a book
on learning without a good context is really boring
to read and even more boring to write. So I ultimately chanced
upon thinking of cooking for a few reasons. The first was it was
a skill that I had quit many times before. I had failed at it many, many
times before, despite trying, much like swimming, which was
covered in “The 4-Hour Body.” Secondly was– I think as many people feel
these days in a digital world– there’s a certain sense
of angst that I felt every time I closed my laptop. I’d accomplished a lot of
work, but I had nothing physical to show for it. And I really wanted to reclaim
my manual literacy and build physical things. And I thought that would
be woodworking. But there’s always an excuse not
to go to Oakland to do it. And I didn’t want some crappy
bird house in my living room, anyway. And I saw my girlfriend cooking
one night, and I said, that can be my dojo. That can be where I learn to
use my thumbs for something besides the space bar. And it turned out to be really
life-altering for me to reclaim that part of myself. And lastly, because food
involves all five senses, you can really use it to create sort
of a Spidey sense in all of those senses, which
is pretty wild. And it transfers to almost
everything else. And this shot, this opening shot
here that you guys can see, it’s two pictures,
identical pictures. This is the entranceway to
Alinea Restaurant in Chicago, which at the time I wrote
the book was number one ranked in the US. And I spent three days there. And in Alinea Restaurant, they
test every assumption possible, every convention
possible. You get menus at the end instead
of at the beginning. When you walk in, no
one greets you. It’s this red hallway,
completely soundproof. Until you get to the end,
nothing happens. Then motion sensors open a
hidden door, and people greet you by name. Everything’s been tested,
including the business model. And I encourage people to look
at Next Restaurant for how they sell out their entire
season for the restaurant in, in some cases, 10 to
30 seconds online. It’s very, very cool. The guiding tenet when looking
at sports performance, when looking at work performance,
when looking at learning performance is this. So “whenever you find yourself
on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.”
And my job over the last five years, but certainly
something I’ve obsessed on for 15-plus years, is finding the
anomalies, finding the freaks– you know, the people
who are really good at what they do despite having poor raw
materials or very informal training or no training
at all. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] This is to give people– how
many people have seen this video before? A handful. OK. This is in South Africa. This is just to give you an idea
of what I do to myself in the name of experimentation. I had been effectively
told– this is the side of my right leg. I’m recording this with a Flip
camera, in Cape Town at one of the top sports science
institutes. And I had been told, in effect,
through Navigenics and other types of DNA testing that
I lacked the ability to produce fast twitch muscle
fiber properly. So this genetic determinism
was very depressing. But that didn’t square
with my experience in sports, for instance. I’d been an All-American in
high school in wrestling. So I decided to skip all of
the theory and just remove samples from my leg. And the way it works with a
biopsy is they insert a hollow tube, slightly larger than a
pen, into your leg, apply suction, pull the tissue
in, and then rotate it to cut it out. And I’m not going to run this
for very much longer. But last time I showed this, I
actually did it at a lunch meeting, which was
my Long Island sophistication coming out. In any case, I’m not going
to go too deep into the results here. -All right. Who wants to sign up? TIMOTHY FERRISS: All right. I’ll come to this in a second. The punch line to that is that
something along the lines of more than 40% of my muscle fiber
was in fact fast twitch muscle fiber, type IIa, which
is fully trainable. So the raw materials you start
with, perhaps the skills that you’ve put on the shelf because
you couldn’t master them or couldn’t even get
started learning them, do not seal your fate. And the way you get around that
fate, the way you sort of head-fake what you think are
your limitations, is by testing assumptions. This is another shot from
Alinea Restaurant. And this is one of
the last courses. This has been plated
by Grant Achatz. So chef Grant Achatz,
A-C-H-A-T-Z, is really worth taking a look at. And I look at him very closely
in the Professional section of the book. But when Jean-Georges
Vongerichten, who’s a very, very, very world-class chef,
who runs many restaurants including ABC Kitchen in New
York City, was asked, who do you fear among your colleagues,
it didn’t take him more than a split second
to say Grant Achatz. He does things I can’t
understand. I don’t understand how he
creates the things he creates. For instance, they wanted
to test plating. Why don’t we have
bigger plates? Well, they couldn’t fit a
4-foot-diameter plate through the doorways to and
from the kitchen. So instead, they found a
special, effectively food-grade latex from a sex shop
in Paris and imported it to create tablecloths where
they could use the entire table as a plate. And on the right-hand side,
you see a dark chocolate pinata that is shattered on
the table and releases all this liquid nitrogen and crazy
stuff, which is just awesome. And it tasted good. A lot of these food-as-theater
shows end up producing really crappy food. But Alinea does not
have crappy food. This is an example
of transfer. When you start to think
creatively about food– because I was an anti-cook
my entire life. Even a few weeks prior to
starting research for this book, I had two friends who are
very good cooks come over to help cook dinner. They said, grab the wine
and we’ll talk about business, catch up. They came over, and I had
mustard and white wine in my fridge, including some, like,
biohazard unidentifiable food. And they asked me where
my olive oil was. And I said, olive oil. Olive oil. Oh, it’s in the freezer. It’s in the freezer. Why is your olive oil
in the freezer? I really was starting
from ground zero. And when you start to think
about food creatively, anything creatively,
it transfers. So this was about halfway
through my meal at Alinea. We had been stuck in design
gridlock on the cover. And it just came to me after
one of their more inventive dishes that the cover could be
something like this on the left, which I sketched out. And then it turned into
the final cover. So even if you hate cooking,
hopefully you love food. And taking even a week to
experiment with all of those senses in the kitchen, even if
you stop after that week, will take a lot of your life that
is currently in black and white and turn it into high def,
which is a really cool effect that is persistent. This is something you
saw in the trailer. This is one of my old friends
when I inhaled something through nasal inhalation. This is vasopressin, which is
an antidiuretic hormone. It’s prescribed as desmopressin
to kids in some cases who bed-wet past
a certain age. I used it starting freshman year
in college to ace Chinese character quizzes. And it has very interesting
applications to short-term memory. So I would take two shots and
flip through a book almost as quickly as I could turn the
pages and score a 95 to 100%. It was pretty cool. Now, as you might imagine,
snorting antidiuretic hormone is not the best long-term
strategy. And pretty quickly thereafter,
headaches set in and all sorts of issues, because I was testing
a whole slew of other drugs at the same time. And I started to focus
on method. I didn’t continue with– well,
that’s not entirely true. I’m still interested
in the drugs. We can get to that
if you guys want. But the point being there are
actual methods, recipes, that the world’s fastest learners use
to learn what they learn, whether that’s Daniel Tammet
in the UK, who learned Icelandic in seven days well
enough to be interviewed on TV, whether that’s Ed Cooke, who
plays a pretty big part in the book, who trained Joshua
Foer from zero to national memory champion in the US,
which was chronicled in “Moonwalking with Einstein.”
There is a method to this stuff. Tango, fighting, marksmanship,
cooking, languages– there are methods. And this was the common method
that I distilled from many of these different experts– DiSSS. This is an acronym, of course. And it stands for
Deconstruction, Selection, Sequencing, and Stakes. And I’m going to breeze through
this pretty quickly. I’ll give a few examples of
what I mean, then a few take-aways, and then we
can jump into Q&A. But this is the basic process. Deconstruction is taking
something very big and intimidating, like learning
how to swim. I couldn’t swim until
three years ago. And I grew up on Long Island. How embarrassing is that? But I was deathly afraid
of swimming. I’d had a couple of
semi-drowning experiences, have trouble with
my left lung. So I took swimming and broke it
down into, OK, what are the arms doing in freestyle? What are the legs doing
in freestyle? Learning to swim is too big,
just like learning a language. And then, what are my
failure points, my personal failure points? Why haven’t I learned
this already? So for me, it was every time
I went in to try to take a class, I would be given
a kickboard. And they would say, all right. Do a couple laps. And then we’ll get
you started. And I would flail around
like a drowning monkey. And I wouldn’t move. And I would just be embarrassed,
exhausted. And I would quit. So it’s like, all right. How would I learn to swim if
I had to avoid kicking? And it gives you a specificity
to then look for the answers. And through a friend of mine
named Chris Sacca– who some of you may know– a very astute investor, who was
terrible at swimming and then completed an Iron Man, I
found total immersion method, which, guess what? Doesn’t really use kicking. So deconstruction is taking
something really big and making it more tackleable. Selection is a common thread
through all of the books that I’ve written. This is the 80/20 analysis. So what are the 20% of tools,
activities, approaches, coaches, whatever it might be
that will get you 80% or more of the outcomes, the results
that you want? This is really easily applied
to languages. Like most people, when I studied
Spanish in junior high and whatnot, I was terrible. I couldn’t string a basic
conversation together for 30 seconds after three
years of studying. And I concluded I was
bad at languages. No. Not so. I just had things
all mixed up. If you instead look to someone
like Michel Thomas– M-I-C-H-E-L Thomas, his original
audio recordings, who was a Holocaust survivor,
then an intelligence officer in Europe– you could acquire the basics of
Spanish grammar in two or three days. And then if you used flash
cards, like vis-ed.com, V-I-S, hyphen, E-D dot com, which are
high-frequency word lists and flash cards, you could become
functionally fluent in a language like Spanish in 8 to
12 weeks without that much difficulty. And I say that now because I’ve
applied this to Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, German,
Spanish, and so on. It’s very replicable. OK. Sequencing– this is something that I don’t
think has been addressed very well by other books. And there aren’t really many
books on accelerated learning to begin with. Sequencing is kind of
the secret sauce. So a friend of mine, for
instance, Josh Waitzkin– does anyone know that name? He was the basis for a book and
a movie called “Searching for Bobby Fischer.” He’s one of
the most incredible chess players in the world. He opted out of the scene after
all of the attention from “Searching for
Bobby Fischer.” But the way he was originally
taught chess by his first really formal coach
was backwards. He learned from the
end game first. So instead of starting with
openings, which everyone does, he began with pawn and king
versus pawn, to learn flexible principles and techniques that
could apply everywhere. And as a result, his rate of
progress was much faster. When I learned tango
in Argentina– which was a complete
accident– but from my first class to the
world championships was five and a half months. And part of the reason I was
able to make that rate of progress is because I looked
at how to play with the sequencing. And I learned the female
role first. I learned how to follow before
I learned how to lead. And it allowed me to progress
much, much faster. There are a lot of very good
coaches who had also focused on sequencing. Stan Utley, who is a very
well-known short-game– ie putting and whatnot– golf
coach, says people come to me all the time. They say, how’s my form? How’s my form? Can you correct my form? He’s like, your form is fine. You’re just moving the
pieces out of order. So playing with sequencing
is really important. And then stakes is also
very neglected. One of my friends, AJ Jacobs,
writes for “Esquire.” He’s a hysterical, hysterical writer,
a very good writer too. “The Year of Living Biblically” is one of my favorites. But when he was trying to lose
weight– so he’s a Jewish guy. He gave one of his friends
a check to the KKK for $1,000 in his name. And he said, if I do not hit
my weight-loss goal, I want you to mail this to the KKK. That is what we call
an incentive. So for most people, they’re
like, oh, I’d love to learn to play the guitar. I’d love to lose weight. But if you fail at those things,
nothing happens. You don’t get fired from trying
to learn the guitar. You just don’t do it. So an easy way to
create stakes– betting pools with friends
are one way. But you could also
go to stickk.com. I have no affiliation
with it– S-T-I-C-K-K dot com. It was originally set up by
or conceived of by a Yale professor as a commitment
store. Here’s how it works. Take an amount of money that
would be painful to lose, because you’ll work a lot harder
to avoid the stick than you will to get the carrot. Put in some money. It goes into escrow. Then you choose your goal. Let’s just say it’s guitar
twice a week. Great. Then you choose your
most merciless friend to be the referee. And if you don’t– oh no. What happened? [FEEDBACK] Man. Tech support? “Eyes Wide Shut,” anyone? OK. So we’ll have to reclaim
the screen somehow. I’m not sure. I didn’t touch anything. I can also riff without
it, but it would be nice to get that back. Where the hell was I? Oh. All right. So escrow. Then you choose an
anti-charity. So you have your merciless
friend who is going to referee and confirm or deny that you
did what you said you were going to do. And then you choose
an anti-charity. Currently the most effective
anti-charity is the George W Bush Congressional Library. Right below that– this is from the stats. I’m not taking a position. I’m just saying. Right below that you
have pro-choice, pro-life, duh, duh, duh. So whatever nonprofit you would
rather nuke than give money to, choose that. And then if your friend or
another referee says you didn’t follow directions,
guess what? That money goes to that
nonprofit in your name on the record forever. You will perform miracles. People who have no instruction
whatsoever, it’s just like, no. I’m not even going to tell
you how to lose weight. But you have to lose weight or
this will go to the KKK. Man, miraculous. So how many people here would
like to, let’s say, learn to play guitar? I think that’s pretty common. I would. Anybody? So go on YouTube and search
Axis of Awesome. So the Axis– AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] TIMOTHY FERRISS: Yeah, right? So Axis of Awesome is
a comedy troupe. It’s a musical comedy troupe. And they will play almost every
popular pop song that you can imagine using
four or five chords. So guess what? Those four or five chords are
your minimal effective dose. That is where you should invest
your time to have early wins and get the most positive
feedback possible, as well as getting 80% or more of the
outputs that you would want, especially in that beginning
novice stage. From a sequencing standpoint– I’m just kind of making this up
as we go along until we get visuals, if we get them. It’s not a big deal
if we don’t. In the case of, let’s
say, cookbooks– and I want people to believe
they can become world class in almost any skill within six
months if they apply themselves properly. And by learning how to learn,
you also by default learn how to teach. So you can teach your
kids and whatnot. One of the ways that you’ll
notice this has been taught indirectly through the book is
fixing some of the common problems with cookbooks. Many how-to books in general are
written to be convenient for the author to write,
not a logical progression for the reader. So why do people quit cooking? Let’s say, knife skills, a
really, really common reason for people quitting. Why? Because they’re introduced
too early. So there are ways to postpone it
at a point when the student will be ready. Additionally, I don’t care
about why people pick cookbooks up. I care about why they
put them down. And what I did right from the
outset before even starting writing is I polled my Facebook
and Twitter followers to identify the five
or six most common reasons people quit. So what do we have? Shopping, too much
cleanup, too much expensive gear, et cetera. And it’s very important when
you’re trying to lose fat or whether you’re trying to learn
something quickly to only adopt one new behavior
at a time. So if you guys take anything
away from this, let it be, well, first, 80/20. And then secondly, one
behavior at a time. So if you look at, let’s say,
the research that BJ Fogg has done the persuasion
lab at Stanford– or really anywhere else. If you try to take, for
instance, people who are over the age of 50 and teach them
to quit smoking by texting, your failure rate’s going
to be sky high. Because you’re trying to teach
them two new habits, texting and quitting smoking. Yay. When most people try to learn
to cook, what are they in fact doing? Just ignore this. Ignore this. They’re not trying to adopt
one new behavior. They’re trying to adopt
grocery shopping. And of course they don’t know
where anything is, because they never do it, so it
takes them an hour longer than it should. Then prep time. Pain in the ass, especially if
you don’t know knife skills. Then cooking, then cleanup. Of course everybody gives up. Of course. That’s like I’ve never
lost weight before. I want to lose weight. Great. I’m going to go to the gym
seven times a week. I’m going to change
all my meals. I’m going to get the most
expensive personal trainer I can find. And then add two more to that. Of course it fails. So a side note– if you want to
lose fat quickly, 30 grams within 30 minutes of waking
up is the first change you should make. That’s how my dad started. He went from 5 pounds of average
fat loss per month to 17.85 in the first month and
then lost a total of more than 90 pounds. So just a protein shake first
thing when you wake up. Don’t even change your meals. If you have a lot of weight to
lose, don’t exercise for the first 8 to 12 weeks. The grammar of any language– this is the 80/20 of
language learning. There’s a fascinating guy– I talk about him briefly
in “The 4-Hour Chef”– named Cardinal Mezzofanti. Anyone heard this name before? All right. So Cardinal Mezzofanti
is a hyperpolyglot. By some accounts, he
spoke 72 languages. He’s been tested pretty
well in at least 32. There’s actually a book about
a lot of this stuff called “Babel No More,” I believe it
is, which is outstanding. The way that he learned these
languages without using really any written materials to speak
of was he would have native speakers translate the
Lord’s Prayer into their native language. And in that tiny little Lord’s
Prayer, he could pick out almost all of the most
important grammatical constructions in the
entire language. I actually ended up
doing the same thing, but with 13 sentences. So in effect, just to make
language, because it’s so intimidating to people,
graspable– if you can translate these 13
sentences, you have enough grammar to have a pretty long
conversation assuming that you then add in the words
you need. And if you study something
called the linkword mnemonic– there are different types of
mnemonics– the linkword mnemonic by Gruneberg,
G-R-U-N-E-B-E-R-G, you can learn 200 to 300 words a day
without too much trouble. And if you consider you need
about 1,200 words to seem fluent, like a week or two,
you’re off to the races. I’m not kidding. This is my Muppet face, as
my girlfriend calls it. And this is to illustrate the
minimal effective dose in terms of gear. So one of the things that I
always found very frustrating about cooking, they’d be like,
OK, you ready, excited? You’re enthusiastic? Let’s kill that enthusiasm,
because you have to buy $4,000 worth of stuff. And you don’t even know if
you’re going to keep cooking. But have fun spending
that money. And that’s like, oh, you
want to try cycling? Here, buy this $4,000
Tour de France– it just makes no sense. So if you look at a few of the
things I have here, this is about all you need to
cook really well. For part of the research, I went
to the Oberoi Grand in Kolkata, India. And that was one of the best
chefs in the country. He did all of his prep with a
$20 Victorinox knife and two stainless steel pans. You could buy all of that
for $35, $40 in the US. Here you have a microplane
on the left-hand side. You have the Rada Cutlery
cleaver, which is a $9 to $12 knife which is perfect for
learning knife skills. Do not spend a fortune on knives
until you’ve decided you’re actually going
to continue cooking. Then you have that blue towel,
which I found through Tom Colicchio’s gang. That is a surgical, lint-free
huck towel. It’s not designed for cooking. It’s designed for hospitals. They’re about $1 apiece. They are gold. They can be used for a million
different things. Then you see that little
vegetable peeler. That is a Kuhn Rikon
vegetable peeler. The Star peeler was the
original version. A guy named Joe Ades sold
millions of them in Union Square in New York City. Find videos of him online. It’s amazing. Then a couple of silicon
spatulas. A probe thermometer,
super critical. If you never want to undercook
or overcook food ever again, just get a probe thermometer. When in doubt, cook it to
140 and you’re fine. There are a couple
of exceptions. Then a Peltex, which is like
a slotted fish spatula. And then a cast-iron
Dutch oven. That’s pretty much
all you need. And you could start
with a lot less. On the right-hand side– any coffee geeks? There’s got be at least
one or two. All right. So I spent a few days with
Stephen Morrissey, who was the 2008 World Barista Champion,
works at Intelligentsia Coffee now, also helped design the
coffee program at Eleven Madison Park, which has become a
big selling point for Eleven Madison Park. So here are some of the
things we tested. I’m not going to go
through each one. But if you want to make a really
amazing cup of coffee and you don’t want to get too
down, stuck in the weeds, here’s my recommendation. For one or two people, all
you need is an AeroPress. It was designed by a mechanical
engineer out of Stanford who also developed the
Aerobie, the Aerobie, that Frisbee, same guy. AeroPress. And then get, obviously,
good coffee. Get a conical burr grinder,
which does not have to be expensive. You could get a Hario hand
grinder or a Porlex. They’re probably $20,
$30 a piece. And then 12 grams of freshly
ground coffee to 200 grams of water. And the water should be between
175 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit. And you’re done. That’s all you need to
know for the basics. You can get in the weeds, but
that will produce one of the best cups of coffee you’ve
ever had in your life. Anti-Griddle– this is just a point I want
to make about home versus professional chef. Professional chefs need fancy
gear in some cases, because they have to produce 100, 200,
300 of the same dish a night. And they have to be extremely
consistent. At home, you can create the
same thing but use a super-ghetto MacGyver
approach. So there’s something called
the Anti-Griddle, which is manufactured by a company
called PolyScience. And it’s used at Alinea. It’s a surface that can be
lowered to about negative 40 Fahrenheit. And you can make all sorts
of crazy stuff. The way they did the recipe
testing before the Anti-Griddle existed, and the
way that you can replicate the results at home without spending
$2,000, is using a block of dry ice and a
baking sheet on top. Or you could use the back
of a metal spatula. And then you can make these
things, for instance. Take a few minutes. These are like those peppermint
Girl Scout cookies, those super crack
addict cookies. They’re like that, but
even more addictive. And you can make them in
about five minutes. But you can do this at home
and replicate a lot of the things that would cost
$5,000 to $10,000 with just a few dollars. This is one of the last points
I’m going to make. And that is the approach
is the same. This process, this
blueprint for meta-learning, applies to tango. That was my instructor for a
whole host of reasons in Argentina when I was
competing, named– not the woman, although that
would’ve been nice. Gabriel Misse, on the left-hand
side, Gabriel Misse, M-I-S-S-E. If you ever want to
go to Argentina or take tango classes, look for that guy. He’s one of the few tango
instructors whom the old guard, like the old-school
milongueros, really love, as well as the new guard,
like [SPANISH] guys, they all love him. Here’s me, on the floor. What am I doing? I’m practicing the motion of
sauteing, on my knees with dry beans in a skillet. I’m not cooking. The most stressful way to learn
new skills is to try to learn them while you’re under
pressure to produce a meal. So this is an example of
no-stakes practice. Like practicing cutting skills
with a lettuce knife, for instance, which is pretty much
exactly the same shape as a chef’s knife, but you
can’t cut yourself. On the right-hand side here,
if we want to talk about guns, we can. But I’m not going
to go too nuts. This is an M&P .45,
Smith & Wesson. That is the real gun. Then above it, we have a pellet
gun and a BB gun, both manufactured by Smith & Wesson,
that are replicas of the same thing, which allowed
me to practice at home so I could then transfer all
those results to the range, or zombies. So no-stakes practice
and transfer– the process is the same
for all these skills. And of course, last but
not least, simplify. Learning does not have
to be complicated. Cooking does not have
to be complicated. And what I noticed– I mentioned this earlier– is
at the very highest levels, when I met the best of the best,
they kept things really simple for me. They didn’t say, no,
you can’t do it. They didn’t say, no, it’ll
take a lifetime to become a good cook. They said, look. If you want to dedicate your
life to it, you have to do what I do. But to be one of the most
amazing home cooks out there does not take very
much time at all. It does not have to
be complicated. That is a Gurkha regiment kukri
knife, for those people wondering, a Nepalese
knife used to chop people’s heads off. That is related to
simplification because the act of deciding to simplify– decision is related
to incision. Decision is removing
possibilities, applying positive constraints, like
the 80/20 analysis. So I’ll end with one example
of simplicity. This is an ash cake. So these are cakes. They’re like scones made from
acorn flour, cooked directly on a bed of coals. And this was done in the Santa
Cruz mountains, with an incredible guy named Cliff
Hodges, who actually has engineering degrees from MIT,
but runs a company called Adventure Out in Santa Cruz. You guys should all
check it out. Made these, brush off
some of the ash. The most delicious scones
I’d had in years. And it was done right on a bed
of coals in the mountains. So find the elegance in the
chaos and simplify to the extent possible. And that is the end of
my presentation. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] TIMOTHY FERRISS: So I would love
to do Q&A. That’s when I have the most fun. So the mic is right over here. If anyone has any questions,
I would love to hear them. And they don’t have to be
related to anything in this presentation. Yeah. I think we’re just going to
[? have this ?] because they want to record the questions. AUDIENCE: Have you applied
the DSSS thing to coding? And if so, what do you start
with in terms of sequencing? TIMOTHY FERRISS: I have not
spent a lot of time tackling coding, just because I’ve spent
most of my time in the natural languages. But I did have a very
fun experience with Chad Fowler, who– I guess it was RailsConf, among
other things, that he used to run– where he taught me the basics
of Ruby using analogies from Hindi, which he speaks. And the way I would start
is by looking at– from the deconstruction step,
I would look for people who have had the fastest rate
of progress in a short period of time. So rather than trying to emulate
the best coders– so for instance, I remember once
I asked a friend of mine, Daniel Burka– I think he’s here right
now, in fact– about the basics of CSS. And he’s like, all this stuff
is second nature to me. I don’t remember the problems
that I had in the beginning. So looking for people, let’s say
in the world of swimming, instead of Michael Phelps, you’d
look at someone like Shinji Takeuchi. But in coding, I would be
looking for people who have made tremendous progress in
a short period of time. And that could be by contacting
someone like Code Academy and asking them
for case studies. There are a number of different approaches I could take. But I haven’t delved too deeply
into programming. The reason this book took me so
long to write partially is I didn’t have the contacts and
resources that I have now to meet the people I
wanted to meet. But it’s also because I’d tried
other frameworks that always fell through with
different subjects. And this is the only one that
has held up so far. So I think it could apply. AUDIENCE: So in short, find
someone that’s an expert at it and kind of ask them what
the end sequence– TIMOTHY FERRISS:
Or model them. There’s a list of 10 to
15 questions in the Deconstruction section that I
recommend running through, whether as a thought exercise in
using Google, let’s say to just do searches, which can
really be all you need, or whether you’re actually
reaching out to people in person. That list of questions helps
break down where the Archimedes levers might be where
you can accelerate your progress compared
to, let’s say, a conventional CS training. Yeah? AUDIENCE: Hi. So your book is self-published
on Amazon, right, and not in bookstores? TIMOTHY FERRISS: It is the
first major book through Amazon Publishing. So it’s not self-published. This is a confusing aspect
of it because Amazon has so many options. Amazon Publishing is based in
New York and competes directly with all of the other
major publishers. So they sign authors and provide
advances and do all of that stuff, which is why there’s
been such a strong response, positive
and negative. So it’s being boycotted at
retail by all of Barnes & Noble and a lot of indies. But there are some stores, like
Hastings and a handful of indies throughout the country,
that do carry it. AUDIENCE: OK. And so what were your business
decisions for that? TIMOTHY FERRISS: The business
decisions were for me that I like experimenting. I mean, I’m sort of an
experimentalist. And I’d done the traditional
model twice. I know what’s involved. I know how to do it well. It’s just not very interesting
anymore. And I wanted to try
something new. And Amazon has direct access
to all of its customers. When you think of traditional
publishing, they are B2B companies. So you’ll have the
VP of sales at an imprint of Simon & Schuster. They sell to the head category
buyer at Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million. They do not have any
relationship with their end users. And I wanted to see what could
be done through Amazon, given that it’s a completely new
landscape, and just try something different. So we’ll find out very shortly
the results of that. But it’s been fun. I mean, it’s allowed me to do
things very aggressively that I otherwise probably would not
have even thought to do, like partnering with BitTorrent to
provide hundreds of megabytes of extra content and
video and whatnot. It’s forced me to improvise. And I just enjoy that. That’s kind of what
gets me excited. AUDIENCE: Thanks. TIMOTHY FERRISS: Thank you. AUDIENCE: So one of my favorite
things about your other books are that you find
these universally accepted truths, and you affirm some
of them and negate others. So in “The 4-Hour Body,” you
kind of negated the idea that calories in equals
calorie out. But you affirmed the idea that
a high protein intake’s important to muscle growth. During this book, what are some
of your favorite truths that you found that
you affirmed and some that you negated? TIMOTHY FERRISS: That’s
a good question. I want to talk about
the calories in, calories out for a second. So even in “The 4-Hour Body”
when I ate whatever it was, like 7,000 calories in
12 hours, people were like, ah, that’s BS. So I wanted to do that
again in this book. So just two quick examples. One was I connected with some
competitive eaters, like the number two ranked guy in the
world and a few others, and had a Vermonster-eating
competition with a bodybuilder. So the Vermonster is this thing
from Ben & Jerry’s. It’s 14,000 calories, 500
grams of fat, ice cream, bananas, brownies, cookies. It’s just beyond
beyond excess. And so we ate that in
20 minutes or so. And so I did that first. And then the very next day– oh, and the competition was to
see who could finish it the fastest and who could gain the
most weight simultaneously. The next day I did– and I measured my body fat
beforehand, with an ultrasound analyzer that the Yankees use. The next day, I did a New
York City food marathon. So I wanted to try this idea of
a food marathon, which was 26.2 iconic dishes. The 0.2 is cookies. 26.2 iconic dishes– I like cookies– in 26 locations in 24
hours, all walked. And so I did both of those. That was probably another 12,000
to 15,000 calories. And then I had lower body fat
the next day, using all the stuff in “The 4-Hour
Body,” like the alpha lipoic acid [? one. ?] Some of the things that were
fascinating to look at in this book, things that were maybe
refuted or shown to be not complete, shown to be
incomplete– like searing a steak, for instance. If you want the perfect sear on
a steak, you’re producing this Maillard reaction. And part of what you need for
that is low moisture. And what you usually hear is,
OK, you get the steak to room temperature. Then you sear it and cook
it and whatnot. Well, one of the best ways to
get that perfect sear is actually to put the steak
uncovered in the freezer for 45 minutes. Because it’s the driest
environment that you have in your house. It’s like Antarctica. So it will evaporate all the
surface moisture content. Then you sear it. And then you put it in the oven
at 200 degrees and just let it rock until you
hit 135 degrees. And you’ll have the best steak
you’ve ever had in your life. It’s amazing. So just different ways of
sequencing things like that. In the world of learning,
there’s so many myths, and partially because those myths
are very profitable to commercialize. So the idea that children learn
languages faster than adults so you should
mimic how children learn language is nonsense. Like, have you talked to a
three-year-old recently? They have a lot of work to do. I’m sorry, kid. Not good enough. So the idea that someone who
already has an L1 native language needs to learn the
way a baby learns is ridiculous. And you could use 8 to 12 weeks,
but there are companies like Rosetta Stone that
capitalize on the fact that it’s perceived as complex. So it’s like, oh, you
think it’s complex? Great. We have three or four sets that
cost $200, $300, $400 apiece that we can sell you. In learning, there are
so many myths. In cooking, I would say some
of the myths relate to– not even myths, but just gaps. I have never seen a systematic
way of learning flavors like you might learn foreign
vocabulary. I’ve never seen it. I tried to find it. So it’s like how do you actually
learn to be able to recall and identify flavor
is really, really tricky. So I reached out to this group
of researchers at– I think it’s the Monell Sensory
Research Institute. And they pointed out
a few things to me. For instance, there are not only
taste receptors in the mouth but in the throat,
in the stomach, even in the small intestine. And there were a few flavors
like cloves, for whatever reason, that I couldn’t peg. I just couldn’t remember them. Basil was another. So what I ended up doing was
crushing them, steeping them like tea, drinking it like a
wine snob and aerating it and all that, and then
swallowing it. And as soon as I used all of
these taste receptors, it was just like [SNAP] done. Those would be a few
that come to mind. AUDIENCE: Thank you. TIMOTHY FERRISS: Yeah, thanks. AUDIENCE: I’ve heard
you on podcasts and YouTube things as guests. Do you have any plans or have
you ever thought about doing your own podcast or YouTube
channel or anything? TIMOTHY FERRISS: Yeah. I’ve thought about podcasts
instead of a YouTube channel. I’ve thought about it. But I’m very wary of creating a
monster that I have to feed. If I enjoy it, like, oh, this
is awesome, every week or every day doing a podcast,
having amazing guests, I think it would be fun until I decided
that I wanted to take a break and then had to perhaps
face the backlash. But I really enjoy Joe
Rogan Podcast. I’ve been on The Joe Rogan
Podcast twice, three hours each time. And it just gives you–
it doesn’t have to be three hours long. But it gives you an opportunity
to reach a depth of discussion that you just
can’t do if it’s three minutes on “The Today Show.” So I have thought about
the podcast. I’ve thought about the podcast a
lot, especially because this silly thing that Kevin Rose and
I have done for a couple of years now called “The Random
Show,” which is kind of like whatever we want to do–
it’s this really silly random discussion that we
do via video– has ended up being pretty
well received. So I’ve thought about
the podcast, but nothing concrete yet. AUDIENCE: Thanks. AUDIENCE: So one of your books,
“4-Hour Body,” you had mentioned something about– you’re measuring a lot of
things, which is great, and trying to make decisions based
on that and coming up with simple rules of thumb. But for example, something like
don’t drink milk because it has low glycemic index
but somehow it raises insulin a lot. But that’s the protein in milk,
from what I understand, that, like all protein, actually
raises insulin too. But on one side, you recommend
something like, oh, eat, say, steak or something like that,
because that’s good. But that’s also going
to raise insulin. So some of those, you could
mix the signals. TIMOTHY FERRISS: Well, no. It’s a good point. I mean, whenever you’re dealing
with multivariate testing, whether it’s a website
or your body, it’s extremely easy– you have to be
cautious about number one, isolating nutrients and drawing
conclusions on those nutrients, like beta carotene in
the ’80s, which produced a lot of side effects when
people started ingesting it in isolation. Because at the time, science
could only measure a few of the things in those whole foods
and not the others. And those cofactors ended
up being very important. In the case of milk– particularly skim milk. So I have fewer issues with,
let’s say, whole-fat milk. But if you’re looking at the
glycemic load, glycemic impact of a meal, milk will tend to
be on the lower end of the range, but it’s highly
insulinogenic. When you get into trouble in
particular is when you have high insulin combined with
processed carbohydrates and, let’s say, trans-fatty acids
is when you get into pretty well-established territory
for causing damage. If you eat a fatty rib eye,
depending on your rate of ingestion, it shouldn’t spike
your blood glucose much. So if your insulin, which is a
storage hormone, is relatively high, but you’re not
spiking your glucose at the same time– which that would not do, as
contrasted with, let’s say, whey protein isolate– then you should be OK. But I would say– just to lay out my general
approach, if we’re talking about physical testing– would
be look at PubMed and clinical research when possible to
identify experiments that I can do quickly on myself. Track predominately one
metric, ideally no more than two. And if it produces a magnitude
of result that is interesting for n equals 1, like subject
equals 1 study, or for even shorter studies– I’m sorry, for, let’s say,
limited studies of 5 to 10, 15 people, you can produce
a study that is statistically valid. If the magnitude of change is
high enough, the p value will be less than 0.05. If it turns out safe and does
something interesting, I’ll then test it on, let’s say, 20
to 100 of my followers, which we just did. There will be some data coming
out probably next week. We tested the slow-carb diet on
more than 1,000 people and had them track five or six
different habits so we could actually correlate
what produces the fastest rate of fat loss. And then I’ll subject that to
my friends who are either scientists– like I’m involved with funding
some studies at UCSF in Adam Gazzaley’s neuroimaging
lab right now. But the challenges,
of course– there are so many studies that
if ever completed with actionable results will
take 5, 10, 15 years. But people want to make
decisions now. And I think that whether that’s
how you respond to caffeine withdrawal and ways
that you can facilitate that or otherwise, there
are some pretty– I think– reliable ways
to self-experiment. But it’s challenging. It’s always challenging. AUDIENCE: In a book about
learning and everything, I know you’re big on supplements
and nutrition and exercise. Do you have any recommendations
for creating a good healthy mind and everything
for retaining all this stuff that you’re
picking up? TIMOTHY FERRISS: So supplements
or things for a healthy mind. Yeah, I do have some
recommendations. It depends on how far
you want to push it. I’m pretty aggressive, so
I’ve tried everything. Like modafinil– I’m like, eh, it’s all right. But there’s some really crazy
stuff you can do if you want to get really aggressive. That’s Provigil, very
popular amongst CEOs in Silicon Valley. But the starting point
is nutrition. That 30 grams of protein within
30 minutes of waking up will actually really facilitate
mental performance, as well, throughout the day. Secondly, a very cheap
neurological insurance policy is 5 grams of creatine
monohydrate per day. This is particularly true
if you’re a vegetarian. That has been shown– and this
is in clinical research– to be very promising treatment for
minimizing the symptoms of or in fact delaying the onset of
neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s,
et cetera. So 5 grams of creatine
monohydrate, which will also make the gym more interesting. There are things you can get
aggressive with, like deprenyl and whatnot. But I would suggest staying
away from any of the prescription dementia drugs,
because I don’t see there being a real reason to. There are some over-the-counter
things you can use that are very– and I’m no doctor, nor do I
play one on the internet. So caveat emptor. Do your own homework. But for instance, there are a
couple of combinations, like artichoke extract and forskolin,
which you can get at GNC, which when combined
do some pretty amazing things for the brain. I would just make sure you
budget 10 to 12 hours to sleep that night, because you’re
going to need it. And then whenever you’re
consuming anything that might increase mental performance,
like let’s say the racetam class of smart drugs– so
piracetam is kind of the granddaddy of this racetam
class of smart drugs. Then you have phenylpiracetam,
which is popular among biathletes because it increases
cold tolerance and is also very stimulatory. If you use something like that–
and this is true for sports nutrition or any
type of supplements. This doesn’t apply just to this
crazy stuff that I do. If it is improving your
performance by burning your fuel faster, you have to
replenish that fuel. And a lot of people skip that
part of the equation. And they end up having really
bad side effects or just feeling tired. So if you take something like
phenylpiracetam, you want to combine it with a choline
supplementation. And if you want something with
high choline content, like whole eggs. Get whole eggs from
a very good source and consume the yolks. I can go on and on about it. But I would say in general,
high protein intake. And if you’re looking to
increase consolidation and retention, take a look at lucid
dreaming and how you can increase your percentage
of REM sleep. So sleep, like the inactive
phase in the learning process, is very important. And there are people who’ve
experimented with things like huperzine A or galantamine. I wouldn’t recommend
galantamine, necessarily. There’s some pretty gnarly
side effects. But huperzine A, which is
an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, by some accounts
increased REM sleep. So you can actually end up
accelerating, let’s say, your retention of foreign
vocabulary, which is pretty cool. There are also flotation tanks
around the Bay Area, like sensory deprivation tanks, which
have some really cool applications for accelerating
stuff like that which require no drugs. Maybe a plus. So those are a couple
of ideas. AUDIENCE: Awesome. Thank you. Appreciate it. TIMOTHY FERRISS: Of course. MALE SPEAKER: Let’s all
thank Tim for coming. TIMOTHY FERRISS: Thanks for
coming out, everybody. [APPLAUSE]

90 thoughts on “Tim Ferriss: “The Four-Hour Chef” | Talks at Google

  1. Great concept to provide instruction on accelerated learning within the context of learning to cook. An interesting task to learn, but the valuable benefit is actually the accelerated learning model of Deconstruction / Structure / Sequencing / Stakes.

  2. That's how I cook too. grater, chef knife. two pans of different sizes. spatula. Rarely do I need other tools. Oh and chopsticks I suppose.

  3. I <3 learning! so, Timothy Ferris, I notice your 80-20 rule is DANGEROUSLY close to the optimal human diet, the 80-10-10 diet as outlined by Douglas Graham
    do you have any thoughts on why these High Carb Raw Vegan people are such high performance athletes?

  4. I disagree, I do a lot of cooking and do not own a scale. Most recipes do not require exact measurement and the recipe itself is not set in stone, a rough ratio is usually all you need. If you do not think in measurements but in consistency and constantly taste what you are cooking, you do not need a scale. Actually you will learn a lot about you are doing and why, much more so than when using a scale.

  5. But there are some very powerful tools in this video, especially the 'dry run' practicelearning methods for learning cognitive skills that you have very little insight into.

  6. I can get obsessed with learning a particular skill, at the moment its cooking which I am completely obsessed with and I have started Spanish a few weeks ago. However, when it comes to school… zero motivation, finance tomorrow and I just can't get myself to do anything

  7. Stumbled upon this video as it was related to one I just watched. Crazy that I'm wearing the same WDS shirt as time is right now as I type.

  8. Seems like a nice guy, plenty of interesting theories… although many of his claims are 'best case scenarios'… and in my opinion, beyond the average Joe on the street.

  9. the thing with tim ferriss is his presentation, he could talk about cleaning dog shit and still captivate an audience

  10. Come back when you can prove something in the other direction. For every "tabloid" cliche he may use, you've brought nothing to the table.

  11. I totally agree. His TED talk was also full of sexy-man / slap chop / shamwow heuristics that just made me clutch my purse a little tighter lol! Scam artist.

  12. so many smart people out there. A wise, wealthy, and healthy person once told me, "You can be right, or you can be rich"… its totally up to you…. @bigtombowski @François Merlin

  13. he is not a scientist or nutritionist….he is a blogger. he obviously doesn't know much about caloric intake because he has been wrong about this before. In his 4 hour body book he cautions against drinking your calories but allows two glasses of red wine each night.

  14. are you getting ANY feedback from the audience, or nothing at all? Seems like they're all braindead over there at Google. Tough crowd…

  15. I had always thought that Google must be the coolest possible place to work. After watching that Q&A I am no longer thinking that.

  16. yes I agree cant even believe it. You are smart if you understand you need to eat right at your age to kill your belly. Listen My senior in gym daily having this secret food items to kill his belly with less excercise. worth watch here now : bit.ly/12n6YlW?=nidwj

  17. You must have missed the part where he clearly stated: "I am not a doctor, do your own research on this."

  18. I'm now @ 25 mins. If you don't know anything about cooking, this may be of some value, but if you are even an amateur, there is nothing you can take out of this lecture yet – will report back at the end.

  19. He does have that unnerving charismatic aspect, but a lot of his information is actually valuable. Valid points regarding diet and nootropics, especially. Everybody DOES work differently, but some of his suggestions are honestly worth a shot.

  20. Tim's absolutely incredible!  His beliefs and methods should be taught in both public and private schools so that children/students can learn things in a much more fun, methodical way, unlike the antiquated techniques that are even taught still today that just don't work and are a waste of time and tax payer dollars…

  21. you should really warn people about those medical images before showing them dude! i wish i hadn't seen them …

  22. I think Tim Ferriss' advice is good for beginners who want to be functional at a skill, but in order to get to the next level there is no real shortcut. You have to spend the time, meaningfully of course, to up your game.

  23. You say people love oe hate you. I think you are an inspiration keep up the good work. happy i bumped into you on the net. maybe in person one day

  24. with the question about writing code wouldn't the strating point using this theory be to stress test code and then learn how the fix the code and go from there?

  25. I think Tim's approach is not promising insanely quick mastery, but speeding up the learning process by making it more efficient by utilizing Pareto's principle; he makes clear that what he means by "world class" is not top tier mastery, but the top 5%, which is completely achievable with the principles he teaches. Many people take a haphazard approach to mastery that wastes months if not years. The method he outlines here is completely ingenious, and maximizes efficency.

  26. ahhhhhh…. im sure he, Tim Ferris, is amazing, but …DAMN… ugh- "your experience"… WE CREATE that- give credit where credit is due. YES!!!- chef's think beyond the food- "we understand the "human process" it is WAY more than you think- WE THINK!!!!!! Food is the way we live, and we are in charge- we take that seriously!!!

  27. any one on the verge of suicide Tim's method preventing him from doing it training his mental health sharing his success with the world this is one person I look up to unfortunately some of my friends who I thought had everything in life couldn't break out of what was troubling them nobody knew until it was too late

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