Merrill was raised not on Gerber but coeur à la crème, made by her mother, Veronica, a phenomenal cook who fed her Parmesan chicken fingers as snacks and vitello tonnato for dinner. (When we originally tested the concept for Food52 on friends and family, we almost had to ban her because her recipes kept winning!)
Merrill, who grew up on the Upper West Side, inherited the cooking gene herself. After graduating from Brown (with a practical degree in Comparative Literature) and Le Cordon Bleu in London, she learned all about recipe testing and perfectionism at Cook's Illustrated — she can chop any vegetable into precise angstrom-size dice — and mastered high-speed sandwich making behind the counter at Flour in Boston's South End.
In addition to working with Amanda on The Essential New York Times Cookbook, Merrill has also written for the Times' T Living, Edible Brooklyn, Body+Soul and Culinate.com, and she was the food editor at Herb Quarterly. She lives with her husband in Park Slope, Brooklyn and so far, has been too afraid to join the tough-love Park Slope Food Co-op.
Most Saturdays, Merrill goes to her local Greenmarket at Grand Army Plaza. She has 6 large bookshelves dedicated solely to cookbooks, which she rarely consults. Much to her mortification, she once burned down her kitchen attempting to deep-fry eggs — an event that spoiled her dinner party that night, but gave her a good story for future parties.
Merrill loves Taylor's of Harrogate Scottish Breakfast tea, her Nespresso machine and, apparently, caffeine. In the kitchen, Merrill is tormented by the word "scant," rolling out pastry dough and recipes that ask you to boil potatoes and then peel them (is this REALLY necessary?)