The buzz everyone in the food world is talking about around the water cooler is the recent collaboration between Whole Foods Market and food52, a popular website founded by Amanda Hesser, the former New York Times food editor and author of The Essential New York Times Cookbook, and Merrill Stubbs, a freelance food writer and recipe tester who worked with Hesser on the cookbook.
The food52 community is a cadre of cooks who are connected to the food business or write their own food blogs, as well as others who are very simply passionate about food. Members regularly contribute their recipes, insights and advice on a site that is nicely designed and very user friendly. Ingredient-themed weekly contests (hence the website name “food52”) garner a wide variety of cleverly crafted recipes, a handful of which are tested by food52 editors. Finalists are chosen, and by good old democratic voting, a winning recipe is announced. The entire food52 community is then invited to become “home recipe testers” that clamor to choose recipes they will test and possibly recommend as Editors’ Picks.
The tangible outcome of this enterprise is the annual compilation of recipes — 52 in addition to weekly “wild card” recipes chosen by food52 editors — turned into a cookbook published by HarperCollins. The magical outcome is a vibrant community that celebrates home-cooked food embellished with personal food history vignettes. The site offers constructive help in the form of the “Foodpickle” link on the main page that enables members to ask culinary questions and receive answers, and to feast their eyes on gorgeous food photography contributed by the cooks themselves.
Whole Foods Market approached the food52 team — who shares and believes in the mission to get people cooking in their kitchens — with the task of building a website and blog for the chain’s Rockville, Md., store. It’s the first of a number of Whole Foods Market locations to install interactive kiosks that can tap into the food52 base to find vetted recipes, ask Foodpickle for advice, and enter their own Whole Foods Market cooking contests.
Recently, food52 ran a special contest, asking members to create recipes with bulk grains as the key ingredient. Thus, a recipe base was developed to serve as an inspirational cooking source that supplements the new whole grains department at the Rockville store. The first steps of this collaborative effort appear to be just the tip of the iceberg in what is shaping up to be a beautiful working relationship.
Passionate cooks who frequent food52 + Whole Foods Market = a great partnership that guarantees real food for thought. Check out both of these sites, and start cooking!