The Contests

food52: The Next Phase

February 17, 2010 • 140 Comments

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- Amanda & Merrill

We can hardly believe it, but 35 of 52 weeks have passed! Which, for us, means that more than 35,000 photos have been taken, 30 or so videos shot and well over 20 pounds of butter consumed.

And now we must begin thinking about the next book, which we’ll begin working on as soon as the first 52 weeks are over in June. (The first book will go into production and we’ll be calling on you then for help with design, etc. Stay tuned.) We have the contract for the new book -- all we need is a theme. Now that we think of food52 as one big, generous, occasionally devisive (don’t mention shortening!), but generally happy family of great home cooks, bloggers and passionate eaters, we feel that the next book can’t exist without your input. Here are a couple of thoughts to get the conversation started:

We could simply restart the 52-week cycle, creating a book each year that serves as a snapshot of how -- and what -- people cooked that year.

We could get a little more creative and think about regional cooking. A recipe theme for one state each week (with an extra week for big states like California and Texas).

We could vote for one cook a week and turn over the recipe creating to that person.

We could…. (You fill in the blank.)

If the conversation begins to coalesce into a few crisp ideas, we may conduct a vote. Or we may take in all the ideas and let them mull, stew and macerate, then come back to you with a final selection of options. So put on your editor caps and pitch in. We want to hear from you and you and you and you and you!

Comments (140)

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about 4 years ago TasteFood

I'll chime in and agree on adding a widget and badge!

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about 4 years ago Allison Cay Parker

Reading the comments below from gabrielaskitchen, I thought I'd add a public request related to the website/marketing of Food52. A & M, you already know about this idea, but figured that this space may be consolidating ideas of this sort, so thought I'd put it here, too, for the record. Would you please, please, make a groovy sidebar "badge" that the bloggers can use to help promote the site? I'm sure many would take advantage of this. I have rigged one up on my blog (in case others want to see what I'm talking about)... but it would look so much better if it were official and came from you guys. Actually, your logo--PLUS maybe a little award badge or seal or something that contest winners or editors pick designees have access to. (We all like to do a little cross-promotion, tooting of horns, right?) My graphic skills are OK but not great, and it'd be best if everyone used the same thing... I've seen the logo on at least one other blog (can't remember which), used on a "press" type page when the author got either a win or an editor's pick.

Zester_003

about 4 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

This is an excellent suggestion for food52 Iteration Next (whatever that turns out to be). One thing I've learned in my two plus years of blogging is the importance of networking and "affiliates". The food52 Shop is an example. You broker stuff but only stuff you are willing to endorse.

Winnie100

about 4 years ago WinnieAb

I second Feeding the Saints motion for a winning recipe on Food52 awards badge and a Food52 sidebar widget for our blogs!
We love you and want to send you traffic Food52!

Zester_003

about 4 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

Yes, exactly. Food bloggers for the most part aren't in competition with each other (unless you are Chowhound which can get pretty savage). The best blogs are about promoting and not destroying. Not everyone has the same tastes of course, but talking about what's good is the most important thing.

Winnie100

about 4 years ago WinnieAb

Well said Pierino!

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about 4 years ago coffeefoodwritergirl

I agree wholeheartedly.

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about 4 years ago gabrielaskitchen

P.S.2. thanks Amanda and Merrill for food52! I've tried and tried to get into other recipe websites, but just didn't vibe with them. food52 was the answer!

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about 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Just saw this -- thanks so much!

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about 4 years ago gabrielaskitchen

The idea I like best for food52two: is Spice/Flavor based recipes. Or flavor combo recipes, i.e. pork/apple, basil/oregano, poultry/nut, or even more broad like savor/sweet etc.

Just a few general suggestions for the website: 1) Having a way to embed hyperlinks would be amazing! 2) More importantly, since food52 has become a hub for the online home cook community, a bulletin board feature would be a great way for food52ers / foodbloggers to connect in real life. Haha, in fact, it seems as if this post turned itself into a bulletin board. (I totally understand if this is too much to ask, I realize that the backend of these sites is already a lot to maintain!) P.S. Anyone in NYC interested in co-hosting nat'l foodblogger bake sale on April 17th, proceeds go to Share OUr Strenght's efforts to end childhood hunger in USA, see Gaby's blog (not me) for more details, contact me at gabrielaskitchen{at}gmail{dot}com if you want to organize nyc bloggers with me, I'd love to collaborate on this with you! Don't have your own blog? I think the food52 community should represent! http://whatsgabycooking...

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about 4 years ago Allison Cay Parker

Sending a private message re: Food Blogger Bake Sale.

Sodium_girl

about 4 years ago Sodium Girl

Late in suggestions here, but thought I'd add mine to the pot. I love the idea of healthy eating as defined by individual chefs - we all have our personal health needs that become quite clear in the alterations we make to traditional recipes.

But since that's already been discussed, here's another idea. How about a cookbook that focuses on using what is in your cupboard and fridge - leftovers, that wilting spinach, the half used box of barley. Every home cook knows the pang of guilt they feel when they throw away unused, unappreciated ingredients. Especially in a time of budgeting and sustainability, it would be appropriate to help people manipulate what the food they have and transform it into memorable meals. A book like this would take every cook to the next level.

I'm not quite sure how the contests would be structured, but I'll leave that one to the experts! Thanks for letting us weigh in on this!

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about 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Following up on my note below, supporting the suggestion of adding tips/tricks/variations, etc. in sidebars . . . . . . doing that would also promote more interest in and discussion about the recipes, as people try them, share their variations/substitutions, etc. In all likelihood, the site would become even busier, as we all contribute our collective experience with the recipes, for the benefit of anyone else thinking about trying them. My inner engineer is always (to the point of an obsession) looking for ways to improve just about every recipe I try. I suspect that I'm not the only one. I'd love to see more discussion about the recipes themselves -- especially variations, what worked/didn't work -- by people who are actually trying them. (I posted a more detailed comment to this effect on the Feb. 13 post about the new features on the recipe page, if you're interested.) ;o)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Great ideas.

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about 4 years ago The Internet Cooking Princess

I wish I weren't swamped at work so I could (a) read all of these comments and (b) dedicate a proper amount of thought to this conversation! I have another idea, albeit half-baked, that I'd like to throw into the mix. (That is if it hasn't been mentioned already.)

Would anyone be interested in organizing/attending some sort of conference-style event? (Ahem, corporately sponsored. Oxo? Harper? Anyone?) There are just so many cooks I admire here that I'd love to meet and learn a thing or two from!

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about 4 years ago coffeefoodwritergirl

This is a wonderful idea!

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about 4 years ago shayma

Lovely idea!

Zester_003

about 4 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

I attended just such a conference last November in San Francisco put on by Foodbuzz. We had to pay our own airfare and hotels but everything else, including great meals was picked up by the sponsors---who of course hoped we would blog about their products. The final dinner was fantastic. It was set up in a food warehouse in South San Francisco with tables arranged in a giant spiral of dominoes, almost like Fellini's "8 1/2". There were about 250 of us there.

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about 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

We're organizing a potluck in the San Francisco Bay Area in early March. I've contacted some of you -- including many I haven't met yet -- but if you're interested and haven't heard from me, please let me know (via a message sent through my profile page). Thanks!

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about 4 years ago The Internet Cooking Princess

Well if Foodbuzz can do it...Food52 can DEFINITELY do it. My vote is for the first Food52 WRAP PARTY in June. Perhaps we should do it in Brooklyn to start to get a little East Coast v. West Coast rivalry action.

I have no problem getting a ticket and a hotel for a weekend...and I bet others wouldn't either. Come on Harper...Oxo....let's make this happen.

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about 4 years ago cheese1227

Oh, I'm game for an East Coast Wrap party. That's a great idea.

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about 4 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

Foodbuzz is actually a pretty formidable organization, and they had a lot of sponsors including Oxo. It was like Sundance for Bloggers, and we all left with a hefty swag bag too. Their next event will in early November.

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about 4 years ago The Internet Cooking Princess

No offense to Foodbuzz, but I've got a soft spot for Food52. The user interface is a thousand times better and the content is richer and much more engaging. It's a quantity v. quality comparison. Ranting aside, my point is that Food52 is sophisticated enough to get more sponsors if that's the case. If only I had more CPG food clients I'd start going through my roladex and getting them myself!

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about 4 years ago Allison Cay Parker

NYC-located wrap-up party (just for F52 community members), AND I'm assuming A & M have plans for a book launch party . . . I'm there! :-) Would also love to meet some local area participants, maybe have a seasonal pot-luck (monthly is a bit too ambitious, for me anyway) . . . love the idea(s).

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about 4 years ago dymnyno

I am noticing how often the words "simple" and "spectacular" are used in cookbook titles. How about contests that are, for example, a simple chocolate cake and then the second contest would be for a spectalular (complicated) chocolate cake, or whatever you choose for a theme each week. Mark Bittman and Jean-George did this in Simple to Spectacular in which they did a very basic recipe and then complicated versions. We could use different words to implement the same concept.

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about 4 years ago Allison Cay Parker

I like this idea, but yes with different words. Similar to the traditional (historic) recipe/updated (modern) recipe comparison that was also suggested earlier, that I saw and liked as well.

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about 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I like this idea very much! I think it would be fun for us, the cooks, to develop ideas around and fun for cooks buying the cookbooks. It allows the cookbook to appeal to a larger audience of buyers. And maybe add a sidebar for additional ideas of flavors that could easily be added without affecting the recipe, like baking time, etc.

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about 4 years ago cheese1227

How about a weeknight and a weekend version?

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about 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Brilliant . . . the weeknight and weekend versions! I also fully support the recommendations of including tips on techniques, variations/riffs on the recipes, tricks for making ahead and/or saving time, etc. The little nuggets in the sidebars of cookbooks that do that makes those books more useful and add a lot of interest. So many great ideas! ;o)

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about 4 years ago Daphne

Brilliant! I agree with Peter Steinberg.
For the second set of contests there'd be no urgency for results which might provide a more relaxed testing schedule behind the scenes.

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about 4 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

Actually, I sort of enjoy being deadline driven. One of the things that this process teaches you is the discipline of writing a recipe for publication. That is, thinking about dry weights and liquid measures and temperature conversions rather than the Rachael Ray methodology. There is no such thing as a standard "palmful" and no two ovens are calibrated exactly the same.

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about 4 years ago Daphne

I like the deadlines too, very much. For the second book I'd do pretty much the same as the first. Just also liked the idea to add a whole second set of contests for additional content as mentioned by Peter and I'm imagining Amanda and Merrill up all night long with all the extra testing etc...

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about 4 years ago dymnyno

Ditto on the deadlines!

Winnie100

about 4 years ago WinnieAb

I guess I don't like change much either, but I have to say that I could happily spend another year being inspired by the weekly themes you two come up with and keeping things very much as they are. Even when I don't feel proficient enough about something to enter a contest (ex. I've never prepared oysters at home), I use the weekly themes as motivation to expand my cooking horizons. I don't think a week has gone by since I became involved in Food52 last summer that I haven't at least attempted a recipe based on one or both themes.Even when I don't end up posting the result, I really have so much fun creating recipes with Food52 in mind, and I know I am not the only one...

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about 4 years ago Allison Cay Parker

Oh, no. Not by a long shot. I also do, too. And I keep track of the themes I missed as well, to keep in mind for future cooking, a good idea for a blog post, etc. It's great to spark ideas with these themes, and to see what others come up with.

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about 4 years ago coffeefoodwritergirl

I agree wholeheartedly...

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about 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Ditto ditto ditto. The weekly contests have given me the structure I've needed to continue to broaden my cooking horizons. And like you guys, I tackle themes that I've never cooked around before and whether or not I create something that places, receives comments, or even ever gets posted, I've ended up learning a lot about flavor combos and techniques from all of you and from experimenting in my kitchen that has (hopefully) brought my cooking to another level. A big thank you, Food52 Community. In sum, I can hop on board most of the ideas that have been presented, but am not much of a photographer or writer. So if that will be become more important, I'll need to find a ghostwriter....

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about 4 years ago kitchengardener

I like the idea of seasonal cooking with what's sustainable and local (kind of like the theme of Amanda's book the Cook and the Gardener) I know you'd be top heavy on "summer" but the challenge is the other seasons!
Street food is a bit limiting in my book.
Or stay the way it is, there's so much variety!

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about 4 years ago ChristineQ

Gotta say I like it as is - I'm so looking forward to the Food 52 cookbook. I really loved the Piglet and hope to see that repeated.

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about 4 years ago dymnyno

I think that street food is a fun idea but I don't think that it is our book...street food is what it is. It is not the food that we prepare for ourselves each day. It is a snapshot of a place, time , an ethnicitity...it's the fast food that is prepared in a van, a roadside BBQ, a wok on the street. We enjoy it because it is peek into the world of Korean BBQ, shave ice, tacos and many ethnic groups that we do not belong to.

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about 4 years ago Allison Cay Parker

But isn't that what cookbooks are? Peeks into worlds that we don't necessarily belong to, but want to enjoy the food at home? I mean, this isn't the only reason for cookbooks, obviously. I do think it's a driving force for many people to buy books, though--armchair travel via the kitchen: to get to taste those experiences we might not be able to have otherwise.

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about 4 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

In fact the tradition of street food is exactly food made in the home but sold in the street. And that's true to this day. Most is not prepared al minute. The original Jewish delis or "appetizing stores" began in this way on the Lower East Side. Mexican street food works the same way, including the food trucks.

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about 4 years ago Allison Cay Parker

So, I've been out of commission for about a week and a half, and I've missed the dialogue with my Food52 friends. Yes, I do think of this as "my" community, and that's really the power behind what you've created here: a diverse, international community that rallies around a common love of food. I haven't read all the comments below--there are now too many of them--but I did scan and came up with some repeating elements. I definitely agree that keeping this accessible to the international community is important, which is why I would not be in favor of, say, a 50-states tour. I do worry that defining too narrow a theme for a book could result in participants getting bored. One thing I like about this year's project is that I know that if I'm not as excited by the contest themes one week, there will be something totally different the next week. It's not often that there's a week when neither contest theme appeals to me--if I fail to enter, it's generally a time constraint issue. If the whole year were spent on a particular type of food or region, though, I don't know. The idea I saw here that seemed immediately appealing to me was the "street food" concept, because it's international by nature and can encompass healthy or not, savory or sweet; speed and portability are perks to street food, too. But I wonder if it's already too "done"? Another idea that I liked was sharing "heritage" recipes, family recipes; or doing the "traditional/update" contrast. The "traditional" version could be one of the week's contests, and the "updated" would be the second contest. You wouldn't have to submit to both, if one week you wanted to just do traditional, the next week there was a dish you wanted to reinvent. Finally, I do want to echo the "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" thread that runs through some of the comments: so much seems to work well here. Obviously, you will not forget why you created Food52, and I'm sure you'll stay true to its roots as you also evolve. I think the fact that the recipes come from home cooks (some bloggers, some not) is great--but it's also great because we trust you to curate them and your own stamps of approval (and often extra tips on preparation) are valuable. Ultimately, this is about community... but you, Amanda & Merrill, have to also balance community with marketing/revenue concerns. The cookbooks presumably need to be successful products in the marketplace, meaning that we want the book's ultimate audience to be much larger than the community itself. I know you will figure this out with a blend of wisdom, savvy, faithfulness to the values and ideas that started Food52, and a sense of culinary adventure. Good luck, and THANK YOU again so much for all you have created to date.

Zester_003

about 4 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

A theme I keep hoping to see here is "street food". It can be almost anything, and definitely international. Last week Los Angeles held a Street Food Fest which attracted hundreds of people who waited in a two hour line for general admission. Maybe for the next volume?

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about 4 years ago Jennifer Ann

I love this idea - street food (and all its ambience) is one of my favorite parts of traveling abroad, and invariably the first recipes I try to recreate when I return home.

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about 4 years ago Allison Cay Parker

I second (or third) the "street food" theme. It's a great idea, and something I also love. It can encompass a wide range of dishes both savory and sweet, and it's global. I agree with others who have expressed concern about keeping this an internationally appealing endeavor and not restricting future books to regions.

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about 4 years ago mtrelaun

I haven't read through every comment, so forgive me if I'm repeating someone here. What if the next volume were like Apartment Therapy Presents: Real Homes, Real People, Hundreds of Design Solutions? The new book could focus on Food52's users. The sections could be divided according to # of people in household, or size of kitchens or homes? I like looking at pictures of ginormous dream kitchens, but I also love seeing what can be done with limited space (Jill Santopietro's teensy weensy NY kitchen comes to mind.) It would be great to find a book solution that conveyed the spirit and camaraderie of the Food52 community.

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about 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

What an extraordinary thread of ideas and feedback -- this is obviously not an easy decision, and we're so glad to have you involved. Thanks, and looking forward to your continued input!

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about 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I just read all these comments and I am so moved! Amanda and Merrill, when you decided to do this, did you have any idea that you would be tapping into so many people's deepest desires (to cook well, eat well, learn from each other), or that you would be building such a committed, interesting, loving online community? These are the best kinds of connections, and I feel like we all get to know each other a little bit because of what we like to cook and eat, how we juggle our family and work, how we express our passion for food, and by extension, those we feed. I hope you can continue to make this a successful venture. It's a community I'm proud to be a part of. Thank you. Thank you both. Thank you all.

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about 4 years ago coffeefoodwritergirl

I echo all of these sentiments. Thank you for expressing them. It has been such a wonderful experience so far to get to know everyone through our love of food and cooking

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about 4 years ago chardrucks

after 90 comments, someone may have already said this, but we have 50 states here, and I'm wondering if you can't pick an ingredient (still operating seasonally) from each state--something indigenous to each state--and use that as your theme. in some cases, it could be a dish instead of an ingredient. the final two weeks could either revisit a state(s) that offers A LOT of options, or takes a few beloved national dishes to tackle. food52-ers could weigh in, based on where they live, to help decide which item should represent which state. might help sort out the regionalism in a more streamlined way.

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about 4 years ago ENunn

Oh, Food52. I love you just the way you are. But change always scares me.