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Top 10 geek recipes

When they're not redefining the fabric of modern society, many of the world's most famous nerds take time out to snarf a burger. Let's get cooking!

8 min read

It's the question on everyones' lips: "What do the world's greatest geeks eat, and how can I cook these dishes?" It's easy to forget that every geek has a food-port in the middle of their facial interface zone. But when they weren't redefining the fabric of modern society, many of the world's most famous nerds took time out to snarf a burger. Not so in the case of Steve Jobs, of course -- he's far more likely to be nibbling on a couscous flan. So take hold of our podgy little hand while we guide you through the top 10 geek recipes. Let's get cooking!

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is a serious fan of cooking. On returning to Apple in 1997, one of the first changes he made to the campus was to build a new cafeteria and employ gourmet Palo Alto caterer Il Fornaio. The Apple cafeteria menu often includes tofu -- Jobs is a vegetarian and is said to particularly love a nonalcoholic grape juice from California's Navarro vineyards.

At the time Apple was founded, Jobs was a fruitarian, and some accounts have it that Apple got its company name because it was Jobs' favourite food. Time journalist Cathy Booth Thomas spent time with Jobs at his home, where he cooked vegetarian food from the family garden.

The Apple CEO is very conscious of his diet, although it recently changed to include "a lot of ice cream" -- more for health reasons than anything else. Jobs told reporters he would be eating the delicious dessert in an effort to gain weight after his recent illness.

You'll need:

2 vanilla pods
500ml double cream
70g sugar
3 egg yolks

How to make it:

1. Cut each vanilla pod down its length and extract the precious seeds. Add the pods only (not the seeds) to the cream and boil it.
2. When the mixture is boiling, add the sugar and stir.
3. Find a large bowl and whisk three egg yolks.
4. Stir the double cream mixture into the egg yolks.
5. Now take the mixture and pour it into another bowl, through a sieve.
6. Stir in the precious vanilla seeds.
7. Find a dish suitable for the freezer, and place the mixture in the freezer.
8. Wait 2-3 hours.
9. Take the ice cream out of the freezer. Take a flat knife and chisel the Apple logo into the top of the frozen ice cream. Announce it to your guests with the phrase, "One more thing..."

Bill Gates

Who'd have guessed that Bill Gates' food preferences would be completely the opposite of his arch-enemy Jobs? Gates' food of choice is the cheeseburger. He can often be found ordering from Dick's Drive-In on 45th Street, Seattle. His regular order is "a Deluxe, fries and a shake".

It's not always fast food for Gates though: earlier this year on a trip to New York, Gates ate at Tao Restaurant and ordered $24 worth of Chinese delicacies. Gate's girlfriend in 1984, software engineer Ann Winblad, did manage to persuade him to give up cheeseburgers for a time, but Gates soon fell off the meat wagon -- hard.

Today he's back on the burgers -- this software giant still risks becoming an actual giant. Here's our recipe for the Bill Gates burger:

You'll need:

1 egg
500g minced beef
A thick wedge of cheese
4 buns

How to make it:

1. Whisk an egg, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper in a bowl.
2. Add the minced beef to the mix, knead it into the mixture, and fashion into four burger-shaped units.
3. Prepare a frying pan, and cook the Gates burgers on a moderate flame for 5-10 minutes on each side.
4. Lay a thick wedge of cheese on the burger -- remember, Gates likes it really cheesy.

Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley wasn't a great fan of the cuisine she discovered in Switzerland and Germany, complaining of "the heat, the insects, the dirty inns, the sour stinking food". Nevertheless, it was sustenance enough to nourish her during the writing of Frankenstein by Lake Geneva. Frankenstein's monster was a vegetarian, saying, "My food is not that of man; I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment." Mary Shelley berry crumble has been specially designed to satisfy the monster's picky diet.

You will need:

1 cup flour
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
1 pint glass fresh blueberries
½ pint glass fresh raspberries
½ pint glass fresh blackberries
¼ cup sugar

How to make it:

1. Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F).
2. Mix the flour and brown sugar.
3. Add the butter and whisk until the mixture is fine and crumbly.
4. Mix the berries together in a large baking dish.
5. Coat lightly with the sugar.
6. Spread the butter, flour and brown sugar mixture on top of the berry layer.
7. Coat lightly with sugar.
8. Bake for 30 minutes until a luxuriant golden colour, then let it cool and serve.

Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper invented the first compiler, a piece of software that streamlines computer code, and designed COBOL, an early programming language.

When audiences at her lectures failed to grasp tiny units of time, she handed out visual aids. Once she handed out packets of pepper, explaining that these contained many tiny picoseconds, saying, "Although the packets are labelled 'pepper', they contain black specks one picosecond long."

You will need:

One large steak
Some pepper

How to do it:

1. Place the steak in a frying pan.
2. Cook until it meets your personal standards for rarity.
3. Add pepper. Easy, wasn't it?

Steve Wozniak

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak opts for Italian food when he has the chance. The Old Spaghetti Factory in San Francisco is the coder's favourite haunt. This Telegraph Hill cafe includes a full-size trolley-car in which diners can enjoy a selection of American-Italian food. Woz enjoys the old-world charm of this 1908 building and its legacy as a hang-out for the beat generation. He tends to choose the spaghetti.

You will need:

500g spaghetti
500g minced beef
500g tomatoes
1 onion
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

How to make it:

1. Finely dice the onion and fry it in olive oil until it turns a rich golden colour.
2. Dice the tomatoes into chunks, and add to the onions.
3. Add the beef and cook the whole mixture until you're happy with the taste, adding dashes of salt and pepper with a professional flourish whenever anyone pops their head into the kitchen.
4. Find a saucepan, fill it with water, bring to the boil, and add the spaghetti. Cook for the recommended length of time on the packet, or use your intuition.
5. When the pasta is ready add the sauce and the parmesan cheese, then eat voraciously. Wozniak never lets food hang around long.

Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage once instructed his Cambridge college chef to produce "a well-seasoned meat pie, a couple of chickens, several bottles of wine and a bottle of brandy," according to his biographer Anthony Hyman. He then took a sailing boat with some friends, navigating down the river Cam to Whittlesea Mere where they ate this food grandly, fished and shot at things. Babbage's interest in cookery didn't end there -- he once famously baked himself in an oven at 130°C (265°F) to "see what would happen".

You will need:

1kg of diced beef
½ cup flour
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 chopped onion
1 tbsp pepper
1 tbsp coriander
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
4 cups chicken stock
4 sheets puff pastry
1 beaten egg
Black pepper

How to make it:

1. Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F).
2. Roll the beef in the flour and fry lightly in oil.
3. Add the garlic and onion and fry for 5 minutes.
4. Add salt and pepper, and Worcestershire sauce and fry until most of the sauce is boiled away.
5. Add chicken stock and cook until the meat is coated in thick gravy.
6. Leave it to cool.
7. Roll two sheets of pastry to around 2cm thickness.
8. Line several 10cm moulds with the pastry. Cover the pastry with tin foil and bake for 8 minutes.
9. Cut lids for the pies from the remaining pastry.
10. Fill the baked pastry moulds with the meat mixture and put the pastry lids on, using the egg as glue. Glaze the tops of the pies with the egg.
11. Bake until a rich brown colour. Your Charles Babbage pie is now ready to take down the river.

Linus Torvalds

Linus Torvalds, the inventor of the popular Linux operating system has said that his favourite foods are, "Hot Indian or Thai, Chinese is fine, and good meat that says 'moo' when you stick it with your fork."

You will need:

A takeaway menu
A phone (preferably with an open-source OS)
A spare minute

How to do it:

Like any true geek, Torvalds has no time for actually making food. Pick up the phone and dial your nearest takeaway restaurant.

Albert Einstein

In a letter to Max Kariel, Albert Einstein wrote, "I have always eaten animal flesh with a somewhat guilty conscience." The thought clearly plagued him, because Einstein became a vegetarian in the final years of his life. It's hard to imagine the great physicist having much time to stop and eat between formulating his theories, but he was rather fond of food, and has since become something of an icon for vegetarians.

You will need:

500g black beans
½ cup flour
½ cup salsa
Hamburger buns

How to do it:

1. Mash beans until relatively smooth.
2. Add flour and salsa. Remember, every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
3. Mash together and fashion into burger-shaped items.
4. Grill until attractively browned.
5. Stick 'em in the buns and you're done.

Lise Meitner

Lise Meitner was an Austrian-born physicist who helped to discover nuclear fission. Meitner lived through massive food shortages in 1923 when the German Mark collapsed. Luckily she was in a well-paid job, but paid for food packages to be sent to struggling friends in Berlin. Every fortnight that year Meitner's mother would mail her a small package containing coffee, butter and a nutcake. Here's how to make a delicious carrot cake in her honour.

You will need:

3 whole eggs
2 cups grated carrots
1 small can pineapple
1 cup sugar
¾ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup raisins
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups flour

How to do it:

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).
2. Lightly beat the three eggs.
3. Add the other ingredients and mix lightly.
4. Bake for one hour, until plump and ready.

Emmy Noether

This groundbreaking German mathematician would often invite students over to her apartment where they would talk maths and eat. She was also keen on stopping for food and algebra in cafes, and at her picnics she would discuss her thesis on ternary biquatradic forms. This research would later help Einstein to develop theoretical physics. Food and mathematics seemed like a natural pairing to Noether, and this sandwich would have been a picnicky delight for her.

You will need:

Pine nuts

How to make it:

1. Take two slices of bread.
2. Butter the bread.
3. Spread the mayonnaise.
4. Stuff as many of the ingredients as you can between the slices
5. Eat.