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Whole Foods Market Cooking Launch

April 19, 2011 • 24 Comments

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Whole Foods Market Cooking Department

Last week, we gave you a quick taste of our partnership with Whole Foods Market. And now, we'd like to tell you how it all came together and where it may go -- and not to worry, food52 is not changing and your recipes are staying right here!

We are working with Whole Foods Market because they believe, like we do, that the only way to sustainably change our food system is to get people to cook. They've been thinking a lot about how their stores have created so many good prepared foods that they've nudged their shoppers too far from the kitchen, and too far from their mission. They want to change this, and they have a revolutionary plan in the works, to be piloted in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Whole Foods Market came to us because getting people to cook requires community, and that's what we -- and especially you -- do well. They asked us if we could build sites for them that would encourage cooking and community around their stores. Naturally, we said yes. 

Whole Foods Market plans to redesign some of their stores to create what we think is an extraordinary Cooking Department, as you'll see in the slideshow below. This department will live in the "bulk" section, where they will make a bold statement for a retailer: that cooking with grains, beans, and rices is just as important as cooking with fresh vegetables. In this spacious new bulk section, they'll feature a much broader variety of grains, beans, and rices -- things like rattlesnake beans and forbidden rice -- that were out of most people's reach, simply because they weren't available in stores.

Additionally, they plan to bring a cooking coach into some of their stores, to be there to answer questions, provide recipes, and give people one-on-one cooking advice. The cooking coach will work among jars of dried mushrooms, grain mills, loose spices and herbs, and vats of homemade vinegars, oils, and syrups for filling re-usable jars. Also in the stores will be an iPad app that we built, offering up recipes, a glossary, and our Foodpickle real-time Q&A.

Their plan makes great sense to us. So for the past 6 months, we worked with Whole Foods Market to create their first website, for Rockville, Maryland, one of the first stores to unveil the Cooking Department. Over the next few months, we'll be launching another 30 to 50 sites for stores (and clusters of stores) around the country.

Whole Foods Market Cooking

Meanwhile, food52 will be where it's always been. Right here. A few things to keep in mind:

• While you may see some food52 recipes featured over on the Whole Foods Market Cooking sites, all of your recipes remain in our database. The food52 recipes that you see in the Whole Foods Market Cooking recipe search link back through to food52. We see this as an opportunity to give greater exposure to our community of excellent and knowledgeable cooks.

• The recipe contests on Whole Foods Market will be independent of ours, and theirs will run regionally.

Foodpickle appears on the Whole Foods Market Cooking site and on the iPad app but all of that content lives here.

We've built something special here at food52, and it's natural to want to protect it. But if we really all believe in the mission to get more people in the kitchen, then sharing our knowledge is the way to go. We love what Whole Foods Market is doing, and it's going to take passionate and informed cooks like you to make their communities thrive. There are lots of creative contests and events in the works, and there's a chance for you to get to know other cooks in your area. And most importantly, when you need to take a break from all the butter, sugar, and booze over here, you can always head over there for some restorative grains and greens.

Now that we've finished up most of the work to get this partnership off the ground, we're turning our attention back to food52, where we have exciting changes in the works.

Stay tuned -- and here's to more people cooking!

- Amanda & Merrill

Comments (24)

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over 2 years ago robinorig

Hope you will also put out equivalent apps for android...

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almost 3 years ago Jillhum

I live near the new Rockville store and I love the new cooking section. I am particularly enamored with the bulk spices. Now if I need a spice I don't noramlly cook with, I can buy a little bit instead of an entire bottle. When I was in the store last week, the cooking counter had a feature on artichokes. Not only does the new concept entice people to cook, it also inspires people to try new things. LOVE. IT.

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almost 3 years ago noctis_equi

I think this is a great move for both Food52 and Whole Foods-- congratulations! I live in NYC and it saddens me that the focus in the Whole Foods store here (at least in Union Square) seems to be on prepared food and takeaway meals. Duane Reade [major NYC drugstore], too, is redesigning their stores to be like mini-grocery stores with prepared foods as the central focus when you walk in. I know that NYC is a microcosm but it baffles me how it's just expected (and accepted) that nobody here actually cooks. I applaud the ingredient-focused shift that WFM is bringing to their Rockville store and look forward to seeing it rolled out nationwide.

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almost 3 years ago Jungle Jeff

This is a very smart move for WFM Corporate to consider. I was the Demo Chef at WFM in Portland, Maine, and had hoped there the store team leader would start offering the public cooking classes. Glad history is changing!

Chef Jeff

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almost 3 years ago amorfood

Great to see this topic of food focused on COOKING. I also feel people have lost the ability and knowledge of knowing how to cook, which I believe is another main reason why Americans are so fat and unhealthy. I admit I am still learning how to cook as I hit my mid-30's. But at least I try. I've never been a fan of fast food. But I do love good restaurant food. However, if I am going to live well and be healthy into my 80's, I need to know how to cook and take care of myself. Thank you for making a focus on COOKING and not just about food. Thank you for trying to teach us and encourage us to get back in the kitchen. Very interested to see how this "campaign" goes.

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almost 3 years ago Fairmount_market

I'm so glad to hear that WFM is prioritizing marketing heirloom grains and beans. There are so many amazing varieties that are in danger of going extinct if people don't know about them and cook with them.

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about 3 years ago fuhsi

The food52 community makes cooking seem a newly-discovered joy, and joy is meant to be spread! Love the idea of expanded bulk bins and the thought of the flour milling section makes me positively gasp. Secretly hoping you run another contest soon on the bulk bins soon.

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about 3 years ago Adriana

This is all very exciting and I'm happy to see it happen! Just one thing... "the only way to sustainably change our food system is to get people to cook." Really, that's the *only* way? I think there are *many* ways to change the food system. Encouraging people to cook more is one (important) way among many.

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about 3 years ago Sasha (Global Table Adventure)

What a great attitude - sharing really is the best way to encourage people to cook. Thank you for setting a great example. As for when this great program will come to Tulsa, OK... I can only hope soon...

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

This is so exciting from a business perspective. What good news, that you are able to leverage the investment in your technology. I live and breathe internet content/service deals (as I negotiate them for a living full-time and have for the past ten+ years); I hope that this and future roll-outs will provide a great revenue stream. ;o)

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about 3 years ago Panfusine

Almost in tears... Just back from visiting the Princeton NJ whole foods & their Bulk bin selection SUCKS!!

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about 3 years ago Corkage

This is awesome! I can't wait until this hits the LA market!

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about 3 years ago NM Expats

Very nice! Can't wait for this to hit our Dallas market!

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about 3 years ago mariaraynal

I think it's a terrific idea and partnership and the Rockville store is simply glorious. Anything that inspires people to cook real food at home is a good thing in my book. Now you have me all curious about the changes in the works at food52!

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about 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Cooking. Community. Making it easy for people to get hard-to-source ingredients. How great is this?! A lot of people talk about the need to get more people in the kitchen. Your collaboration with Whole Foods puts that dream into action. Thank you for being visionary and persistent. You are making the world a better place.

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Could not have said it better, drbabs! Crossing my fingers that this will happen at my local WF (or the second Oahu store opening soon).

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about 3 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

What a great collaboration. AND, what a brilliant concept. Totally needed.

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about 3 years ago Waverly

Again, I say congratulations. Motivating people back to their own kitchens and back to eating together is a noble goal. Here's to Food 52 and Whole Foods' success!

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about 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Thanks so much for the clarifying information! What an exciting project. I'll definitely raise a glass and toast to getting more people cooking!!!

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about 3 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Uber-duber cool. Love the bulk bins, love the concept. There is a WF pending close to our house and I am TRYING to be patient. Cook on friends!!!

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about 3 years ago TiggyBee

This is awesome! Just when I thought it was impossible to love food52 any more, this. I'm constantly amazed here. Thanks!!