Remembering Elena Parker, Longtime Food52 Videographer, Columnist, and Friend

December 28, 2015

We were saddened and stunned to learn yesterday that Elena Parker—Food52's videographer and correspondent on everything to do with film and food in the early, scrappy years—had passed away unexpectedly of a pulmonary embolism at the age of 30.

We'd kept in touch with Elena over the years—last week, she and Merrill were chatting on Instagram after she visited our Holiday Market—and were thrilled to see her career take off. She'd finished her Master's from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, and most recently, she was the Manager of Interactive Development at Campfire and an adjunct professor at NYU. She had spoken at SXSW earlier this year, and received her first feature film credit, as Co-Writer and Co-Producer of the HBO Documentary Make Me Young: Youth Knows No Pain. None of this surprised us.

While Elena worked with us from 2010 to 2011, we were constantly impressed with her flexibility and grace in tackling any request we threw her way. When she signed up, it was to film and edit our weekly contest videos (like this one), but soon she was helping us measure ingredients when we were running late, and accompanying Amanda & Merrill all over the city—to shoot anything from our favorite cheese biscuits and baked doughnuts, to an epic 5-part series on custard with pastry chef Shuna Lydon, to a visit with a serious home coffee roaster on the Upper West Side.

We heard about the movie-themed dinner parties Elena threw with her friends, and asked her to turn them into a column—one of our first, Dinner & a Movie. During Oscar season, she was the only person we knew who'd actually seen all the films, so we tapped Elena to produce both recipes and, in a visually delightful twist, dress pairings.

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Elena's work built our library of technique videos (you might have learned how to fold and how to roast any winter squash from her) and also gracefully documented our recipe contest system, making it all look purposeful and interesting, despite a Google spreadsheet appearance. She even went in front of the camera to teach us—and aspiring bloggers and cooks everywhere—how to make cooking videos quickly and inexpensively.

By her count, Elena made over 110 videos for Food52 in the 18 months she worked with us. We are heartbroken at the loss of our talented friend, and hope that you'll join us remembering her. Start by reading our 2011 Q&A with her, then watch and cook from some of her favorite films below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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    Carie Wojdyla
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Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


Carie W. December 30, 2015
I grew up with Elena. She filled me in (after seeing me go on a Twitter rant) on using a wooden spoon to spank pomegranate seeds out of the fruit. I couldn't believe it worked! I was like, "How do you literally know EVERYTHING?!" I will miss her.
kimikoftokyo December 30, 2015
So very sad. Such talent will not be forgotten. Condolences and love to her friends and family.
Fairmount_market December 29, 2015
Such sad news. Elena was incredibly talented and creative. My condolences to her family and friends.
mtrelaun December 29, 2015
? Sending love to Elena’s family and loved ones.
JanetFL December 29, 2015
So very sad and shocking. I hope that Food 52's tribute and the many warm comments bring some comfort to Elena's family.
amysarah December 29, 2015
What a terribly sad loss. I fondly remember her column here, from the early days. Deepest condolences to her family and friends.
MrsWheelbarrow December 29, 2015
I'm so sad to hear this. Elena's talent was clear from the very first. My heart goes out to her family and friends and all of you at Food52.
gingerroot December 29, 2015
So sad! I loved Elena's column and especially her Oscar posts. Sending heartfelt condolences to her loved ones.
hardlikearmour December 28, 2015
This is heartbreaking. My deepest sympathy to to Elena's family and friends. I too enjoyed her dinner and a movie column.
Greenstuff December 28, 2015
I am so sorry. Like many of us, I would have loved to have had dinner and a movie with Elena.
Bevi December 28, 2015
My condolences to Elena's family and friends. What a talented young woman, and such a sad loss.
Chef L. December 28, 2015
We are saddened by the loss of such a young lady with a promising future. Condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.
boulangere December 28, 2015
What most unfortunate news. To pass away suddenly at such a tender age - I do not know what on earth to say. Deep,condolences to her family and family of friends
Omar December 28, 2015
My condolences to Elena's family. She was a great woman and will be missed.
Nozlee S. December 28, 2015
This is incredibly sad news. Elena's column was a delight and that Oscars dress pairing post was truly inspired.
Alexandra V. December 28, 2015
So inspired by her work with food52. She will live on through it and continue to inspire food content forever. RIP.
drbabs December 28, 2015
This is such sad news. What a talented young woman… a tragedy really. My condolences to all of you who knew and loved her.
mrslarkin December 28, 2015
Oh, such terrible news! Elena gave me the best film suggestions, and I will miss her very much. Sending hugs to all those close to her.
Janet L. December 28, 2015
My condolences to you and Elena' s family. This is a sad day.
ChefJune December 28, 2015
This is such tragic news. My sincere condolences to her family and friends. She was such a talented young woman and shared so much with the Food52 community.