I’ll admit it! I have a fascination with test kitchens, it’s the scientist in me. The ability to test recipes at different stages, to make them easier for everyone to cook by tweaking amounts, flavors, ingredients, cooking methods, temperatures etc is possibly, one of the best kinds of laboratories to be working in. Several weeks ago, my fantasy became a reality when I got to visit the test kitchens at two of my favorite places, Food 52 and Saveur. And I thought you might want to check them out.
The Food52 office is breathtaking and my editors, Kenzi and Sarah gave me a tour of their beautiful space. That kitchen is every cook’s dream kitchen, all those beautiful ceramics and cookware on those open shelves, the photography studio, I could go on and on. The day I visited, I got to see them photograph all the dishes that were previously tested and slated to go online at some point in the future. There’s a coordinated work flow between recipe ideation, testing and photography and it’s fun to watch these guys in action. Food52 has one of the most adorable cookbook libraries I’ve seen, it’s got all the books from the Piglet and many more to cook from. Somewhere, in between eating spiced olives and the photo shoot, my baking hero, Ms. Rose Levy Beranbaum walked in with a lemon pound cake that I got to taste. Here, I am trying to control my crazy fan emotions from surfacing while make a weak attempt to be controlled and classy. And yes, that was one of the best and “lemoniest” pound cake that I have ever tasted and yes, we also shook hands. She is one of my favorite bakers and her “Bible” book series on baking, well I treat them like textbooks. I was too nervous to ask for a photo with her and the best I could do was the first photo in this post, she’s to the right talking to Kristin by the window.
Saveur magazine has a beautiful and large kitchen. The day I visited, I got to see the kitchen editors, Ben and Farideh cook and they even let me taste test some of their recipes from an upcoming issue. It’s an equally busy test kitchen just like the one at Food52, when I walked in a few stockpots were bubbling, lemons were being supremed, and seasonings tested. Fresh crabs and a couple of large fish sat on their shiny stainless steel and wooden kitchen countertops. They gave me a tour of their enormous prop and background collection, the stuff that they use to shoot all their food for the print and digital issues. It’s every stylist’s and photographer’s paradise. And it’s organized to perfection! One thought did cross my mind, did they have an exchange program for props that I could take borrow?
In conclusion, I’ve learned that test kitchens are as magical as I expected them to be. Busy and fun, with people who genuinely care about what they cook, eat and share with us. It’s hard work but you can tell that they’re passionate. It was bittersweet to leave New York but I’m glad I came home with these wonderful memories and I hope you enjoy them, thanks to the wonderful people at Food52 and Saveur who made me one very happy kid!