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Bonappetit.com has a terrifically useful section called Tips, Tools & Ingredients -- an excellent source of how-to videos and slideshows on everything from butterflying a chicken to assembling a Linzertorte.
A&M: What is the M.O. of the Bon Appétit site, and how does it differ from the magazine?
EF: We aim to be a destination for food-lovers to be inspired -- whether it's through gorgeous food photography, fresh takes on classic recipes, or entertaining blog posts. Our site is a resource that supports the magazine -- readers can find a huge archive of recipes, then all of our technique videos, ingredient buying/storing tips, and recipe reviews to help them cook those dishes with total confidence. We also have the freedom to be more topical on a day-to-day basis than the magazine. We can publish a menu for a Mad Men watching party just because we're excited about the premiere, show our readers a viral video of a robot waiting tables in Bangkok, or throw together some guacamole tips from Rick Bayless a few days before Cinco de Mayo. These things won't be as luscious as a spread in the magazine, but it’s great content that our readers love.
A&M: What's the most exciting thing you've been able to do to improve the site?
EF: Our new feature, "What People are Cooking" shows how our recipes turned out in home kitchens. We find bloggers, Facebook fans, or Twitter followers who have made our recipes, then ask if we can share their photos and their reviews, which we feature right on the original recipe on bonappetit.com. I love this feature because it's fun to compare the photos readers took with our magazine shots, but it also provides our readers with helpful information for how a recipe turned out for other cooks. And two other exciting things: Our blog content has become more dynamic and relevant since we hired some great new contributors, and our recipe slideshow images can now be pumped up so that the pictures are HUGE -- this does justice to the beautiful photography we have from the magazine.
A&M: What do you think has been the most engaging feature for users?
EF: Communicating with our Test Kitchen in the comments. When readers have questions about a recipe -- substitutions, troubleshooting, etc. -- they post in the comments, then someone from our Test Kitchen responds. That's very neat, I think.
A&M: How do you approach the challenge of running a site that needs to create its own identity while simultaneously supporting a print magazine?
EF: I drink a lot of caffeine. Then I think about what I want from a food website, what I love about Bon Appétit, and how to bring those things together. How we can use the talent, the knowledge, and the resources that make Bon Appétit so special to produce new things that make sense in a digital environment.
A&M: How has social media changed the relationship Bon Appétit has with its readers?
EF: It has changed everything. Twenty years ago, Bon Appétit was a great magazine, but we couldn't be held accountable by our readers in the way we can today. Now we can literally chat with thousands of them all day long -- hear what they think and what they want, instantly. I'm a true believer that the collective intelligence of our readers can result in some of the best ideas we've ever had. Editorial curation of those ideas is important, but crowd-sourcing inspiration is the future. And that's why Food52 is so great.
A&M: What is your typical day like?
EF: Each morning I round up interesting links -- funny photos, viral videos, interesting food headlines -- and post them in our link roundup blog, The Linkery. After that, who knows -- I try to get my email inbox to (0). And at any given moment you’ll probably find me reviewing new designs for an email newsletter, participating in blind taste test of mezcal, generating ideas for a partnership with social media site Foursquare, or rounding up the best recipes for a feature on Our Best Chocolate Cakes from the Past Decade.
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