The Piglet

Under the Hood of the Food52 Piglet

March 11, 2016

Yes: Choosing 16 cookbooks (how?) and 15 judges (who?), then throwing both to the mercy of a bracket-style tournament can seem a little...random. So why do we do it? And how?

Today's episode of Burnt Toast goes behind the scenes to answer all of this.

Listen to me, Amanda, Merrill, and Piglet co-founder Charlotte Druckman talk about the tournament's origin story, and the reason behind the name (fun fact: even I didn't know why it was called The Piglet when I took it over, 4 years ago). We also talk disaster stories—and we have a few.

Shop the Story

Hear it all, right this way:

Play the episode above, find it on iTunes, or listen to it using your favorite podcatcher. (Don't have one yet? We're fans of Stitcher.)


The Piglet—inspired by The Morning News' Tournament of Books—is where the 16 most notable cookbooks of the year face off in a NCAA-style bracketed tournament. Watch the action and weigh in on the results!


Join the Conversation

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
  • Victoria Carr
    Victoria Carr
  • Transcendancing
  • mcs3000
  • Kenzi Wilbur
    Kenzi Wilbur
Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.


AntoniaJames March 21, 2016
Thank you - so helpful to those of us seeking to understand before seeking to be understood. ;o)
Victoria C. March 16, 2016
I listened to this sitting at my computer because I couldn't get it to play on my Podcast App, and I thought ugh 36+ minutes of defensive commentary, including four apologists talking about Julie Klam's review, which set my teeth on edge when I read it. In short, I started out with a chip on my shoulder. Well that chip was knocked off in good order, and I absolutely found this delightful. The only thing I hated was that I was not sitting around that table laughing, putting my two cents in. This was great! I love the Piglet. My fingers are crossed that Dwight Garner takes you up on your invitation for the 2017 Piglet. For the record, Gabrielle Hamilton has been my favorite reviewer, but Brooks Headley sure gave her a run for the money this year.
Transcendancing March 15, 2016
This is the first year I've been properly following the Piglet at all - it's been really enjoyable! I've enjoyed a lot of the judgments given! I would love to see more input from people who have less cooking experience, or less polished cooking experience. Julie's judgement was one of my favourites!

I'm not a professional cook or a chef, I'm a very accomplished cook and I achieve well what I set out to cook, but I want to hear from all kinds of cooks about a cookbook - that gives me the best sense of whether it might be something I'd enjoy cooking from. It just occurs to me that even though I have no budget for cookbook buying at present, I should see if my local library takes on new cookbooks... it seems a stretch, but one worth checking out!

I love the variety of cookbooks too - so many that may never have come to my attention without The Piglet! I hope that the judges and authors of the book realise the potential of something like this that is more accessible and connected to an audience and real use/evaluation - I'll take a recommendation from something like this over a more formal style James Beard recommendation *every* time.

The same is for books - best sellers lists don't make me buy, word of mouth or podcast recs where someone is enthusing about how awesome a book is (usually involving lady friendships or something else cool and under-represented) and I'm *there* buying it - often straight away. Even if it simply gets added to my 'to-read' list, there are plenty I've gone back to buy later and have read.

So, competitions like The Piglet are important I think, especially for people like me who want a real opinion of the book in use, by different cooks, with different focuses, likes and dislikes, abilities. That's what will make me buy a cookbook, even when I have no budget for it.
Author Comment
Kenzi W. March 15, 2016
So, so happy to hear this. Thanks for reading (and for listening!).
mcs3000 March 15, 2016
Loved hearing how the sausage is made. Totally agree it's awesome to have all levels of cooks/perspectives as reviewers. While I always have my favorites, whether they win or lose, it's fun to read and I learn so much.