J. Kenji López-Alt

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J. Kenji López-Alt
J. Kenji López-Alt
López-Alt in November 2019
James Kenji Alt

Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology

James Kenji López-Alt, often known simply as Kenji, is an American chef and food writer.[2][3][4] His first book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, became a critical and commercial success, charting on the New York Times Bestseller list and winning the 2016 James Beard Foundation Award for the best General Cooking cookbook.[5] The cookbook expanded on López-Alt's "The Food Lab" column on the Serious Eats blog. Lopez-Alt is known for using the scientific method in his cooking to improve popular American recipes and to explain the science of cooking.[6] López-Alt started Wursthall in 2017, a beer hall style restaurant in San Mateo, California, and maintains a popular YouTube channel in which he demonstrates various recipes and cooking techniques with a POV filming style.

Early life and education[edit]

He was born James Kenji Alt, the son of Harvard University geneticist and immunologist Frederick Alt, and on his mother's side, the grandson of chemist Koji Nakanishi.[7] López-Alt graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2002, where he majored in Architecture.[8] His first restaurant job was during his sophomore year of college. He attempted to take a job as a waiter at a local restaurant, but they needed a prep cook.[9]

Upon marriage, López-Alt combined his birth surname, Alt, with that of his wife Adriana López.[7][10]


López-Alt worked with several Boston chefs including Barbara Lynch and Ken Oringer.[11] He went on to work as a test cook and editor at Cook's Illustrated magazine and America's Test Kitchen.[12]

He was the Managing Culinary Director and is the Chief Culinary Consultant of "Serious Eats", a food blog, where he authors the James Beard Award-nominated column "The Food Lab".[13][14] He is also a columnist for The New York Times[15] and Cooking Light.[16]

His first book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, was published in September 2015 by W. W. Norton & Company.[17] It was a New York Times Bestseller.[18] and won the 2016 James Beard Foundation Award for General Cooking,[19] as well as the International Association of Culinary Professionals awards for Best American Cookbook and Cookbook of the Year.[20] In 2020 he released a children's book, Every Night is Pizza Night, which debuted on the New York Times Children's Bestseller list.[21][22]

As of 2021, Kenji resides in Seattle, Washington,[23] after previously living in San Mateo, California, New York City, and Boston.[24] López-Alt opened the Wursthall Restaurant & Bierhaus in San Mateo, California in 2017, with partners Adam Simpson and Tyson Mao.[25] Kenji's YouTube channel has over 1,000,000 subscribers and over 100 million views.[26]

In January 2019, Lopez-Alt tweeted that "if you come to my restaurant wearing a MAGA cap, you aren't getting served, same as if you come in wearing a swastika, white hood, or any other symbol of intolerance and hate"[27] and "If you’re comfortable sitting next to a MAGA wearer I’m probably not interested in serving you either."[28] He later apologized and deleted the tweet.[29][30]


Year Show title Type Notes
2016 The Chew Television series Seven episodes[31]
2017 Guy’s Grocery Games Television series Season 14, Episode 1, “Blogger Battle” (competitor) & Season 14, Episode 3, “GGG Jrs.” (judge)[32]
2019 The Burger Show Television series Season 3, Episode 3, J. Kenji López-Alt Debunks Burger Myths[33]
2020 Somebody Feed Phil Television series Season 4, touring the Mission District[34]


  • López-Alt, J. Kenji (2015). The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science (1 ed.). W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0393081084.
  • Parks, Stella (2017). BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts. J. Kenji López-Alt (Foreword). W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0393239867.
  • López-Alt, J. Kenji (2020). Every Night Is Pizza Night. Gianna Ruggiero (Illustrator). Norton Young Readers. ISBN 978-1324005254.
  • The Best American Food Writing 2020. J. Kenji López-Alt (Editor), Silvia Killingsworth (Editor). Mariner Books. 2020. ISBN 978-0358344582.CS1 maint: others (link)


  1. ^ J. Kenji López-Alt (September 23, 2020). Ask Kenji Anything #1. Event occurs at 15:45. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  2. ^ "Fall 2015's Best Cookbooks: Cooking Pros Bring It Home". Eater. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
  3. ^ Pearlstein, Joanna. "The Ultimate Book for Science Nerds Who Cook". WIRED. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
  4. ^ "A SIDE OF SCIENCE - The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
  5. ^ "The 2016 Book, Broadcast and Journalism Awards: Complete Winner Recap". James Beard Foundation. 26 April 2016. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  6. ^ Syckle, Katie Van (16 August 2021). "Cooking With a Dash of Science". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  7. ^ a b Robertson, Blair Anthony (2015). "Science becomes delicious in 'The Food Lab'". The Sacramento Bee. Archived from the original on 2015-12-16. Retrieved 2019-11-13. His father, Frederick Alt, is a professor at Harvard Medical School
  8. ^ Morell, Nicole. "Alumnus takes food out of the kitchen and into the lab". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  9. ^ "Q&A With James Beard Award-Winning Cookbook Author J. Kenji Lopez-Alt". 7x7 Bay Area. 2016-10-03. Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  10. ^ "Alumnus Takes Food Out of the Kitchen and into the Lab". MIT Alumni Association. 2017-01-11. Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  11. ^ "Alumnus Chef One-Ups (OK, Maybe Two-Ups) KFC". slice.mit.edu. Archived from the original on 2016-10-26. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
  12. ^ Killingsworth, Silvia (2015-10-03). "Kenji López-Alt's Obsessive Kitchen Experiments". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
  13. ^ "Masthead". www.seriouseats.com. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
  14. ^ "The Complete 2015 JBF Award Nominees". www.jamesbeard.org. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
  15. ^ "J. Kenji López-Alt Joins Food". New York Times. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  16. ^ "Kenji Lopez-Alt". Cooking Light. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
  17. ^ "The Food Lab". books.wwnorton.com. Archived from the original on 2016-11-02. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
  18. ^ "Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous Books - Best Sellers - December 20, 2015". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
  19. ^ "The 2016 Book, Broadcast, and Journalism Awards: Complete Winner Recap". www.jamesbeard.org. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
  20. ^ "Winners - IACP". IACP. Archived from the original on 2018-12-05. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
  21. ^ Kennedy, Mark. "'Every Night is Pizza Night': Chef and writer J. Kenji López-Alt cooks up a kid's book". USA TODAY. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  22. ^ "Every Night Is Pizza Night". wwnorton.com. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  23. ^ Vinh, Tan (January 23, 2021). "A new vegan restaurant from an 'Iron Chef' contestant and 12 other openings around Seattle". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2021-01-28.
  24. ^ "Mr. Wizard's Food Lab: J. Kenji López-Alt's unlikely path to stardom". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
  25. ^ "Internet Food Guru J. Kenji Lopez-Alt Opening Real Life Beer and Sausage Hall". Eater SF. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
  26. ^ https://www.youtube.com/c/JKenjiLopezAlt/about
  27. ^ "San Mateo Eatery Bans 'Make America Great Again' Hats". 31 January 2019.
  28. ^ "'Like white hoods except stupider': California chef says he won't serve diners wearing 'MAGA' hats".
  29. ^ "San Mateo Restaurant Owner Apologizes for 'MAGA' Hat Ban". February 2019.
  30. ^ "Kenji López-Alt Backtracks After Saying His Restaurant Won't Serve MAGA Hat Wearers". February 2019.
  31. ^ "The Chew | TV Guide". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 2020-11-02.
  32. ^ "GGG Blogger Battle". Hulu.com. Retrieved 2021-04-16.
  33. ^ "J. Kenji López-Alt Debunks Burger Myths, The Burger Show". Complex. Retrieved 2020-11-02.
  34. ^ de Guzman, Dianne (2020-10-31). "Netflix show features Bay Area chef superstars in SF episode". SFGATE. Retrieved 2020-11-02.

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