Food52 Life

What Our Parents Think Our Jobs Are

May  6, 2016

When I was home this past Christmas, I overheard my mom talking to a friend on the phone: "Leslie's doing great... Yes, she started a new blog in New York... She's calling it Food52."

Just doin' our jobs, tapping on keyboards and thinking 'bout food stuff. Photo by Mark Weinberg

Somehow, my descriptions of my role as an (not The) editor at Food52 had gotten lost in translation and according to my mom—and who knows how many of her friends—I was now the founder of a James Beard Award-winning website (apologies to our actual co-founders, Amanda and Merrill). But as I learned, after sharing this story around the office, I was far from the only one with stories of family members misinterpreting—or completely misunderstanding—what it is we do here at Food52. (Some of our jobs are admittedly difficult to explain.) In honor of Mother's Day this year, here are their accounts (and in some cases our fathers' and grandmothers' accounts) of what we do:

Amanda Hesser, Co-Founder and CEO: When we had 20 team members and millions of readers, my mom would ask, "How is your project going?"

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Amanda and Merrill, I really hope you are reading this because as much as I love that food52 has been successful and as much as I love that my own kids find it fun and relevant, I find this sort of piece inappropriate on a site that started with a whole lot of bloggers and food lovers who are of, as the French say, "un certain age" and on whose recipes and love this site grew. I hope you will reconsider such pieces in the future, unless your intent really is to drive out users older than Millennials. While individually each of these bits about your parents seems cute, cumulatively, they paint a broad swath of agism. Please consider a quick check of your age privilege. ”
— healthierkitchen
Comment

Merrill Stubbs, Co-Founder and President: As Amanda knows, every written communication from my mother includes a thousand exclamations points/question marks/other sundry punctuation, and she has recently hopped on board the emoji train with GUSTO. She sends me a photo whenever she comes upon one of our books in the wild. Here's the latest:

Jackie, Vice President of Marketing: My mom wants to know why no one in our office is overweight with the amount of food we have floating around.

Jovan, Manager of Email Marketing: No one really knows what email marketing is. They just don't get it despite all manner of explanation.

Erin, Test Kitchen Manager: I texted my parents a picture of the American flag cake when it first went up two years ago. It was a screen shot of the whole page on the website, including the Food52 logo and my name. Response: "Neat! Who made that?"

Kate, Director of Events: When my parents visited the Holiday Market this year, the response was: "WOW! This is incredible, Katie. But, explain to me what this 'pop-up' thing is. You build a whole new store and then... you just take it all down? If you ask me, that just doesn't add up. It's too pretty to do that!"

Kaitlin, Community Manager: 90% of phone calls with my mom include: "____ looked so good, but I can't get from The Instagram to the recipe."

Jojo, Director of Buying and Product Development:

My grandmother and I have had a version of this conversation on a regular basis over the last 2+ years...

Grandma Tubby, 92: But WHERE can I buy the designs you sell?
Me: In our online shop... on the internet. I'll pull it up right now on your iPad so we can look together...
Tubby: [Never lets me touch the iPad. Pulls it away and carries on with questions...] Is there a shop I can go to to look at the flatware?
Me: There's no physical store, Grandma. It's all sold online. Lots of stores now have online shops. Like Macys dot com. Here... Let me show you on that iPad...
Tubby: [Still clutching iPad for dear life with no intention of handing it over, ever] But how do people KNOW about your website? Is there a catalog?
Me: No, they know about it through word of mouth, press, and email subscribers. People sign up to get emails from our website. And we tell them in the emails about all the new things we are selling.
Tubby: But how do they get from their AOL MAILBOX to your website!?
Me: [Giving up!] Tubs, we open a store every December in the city. You'll come see it then.

P.S. Tubby, you can find some of our favorite goodies from the Shop here!

Olivia, Operations Manager: My mom is a voracious reader of the New York Times, New York Magazine, and the New Yorker, so loves to tell me things about New York and Brooklyn as if she discovered them (e.g. "Have you HEARD about the new restaurant that opened in your neighborhood?"). Recently, she texted me to alert me of a "great interview with Amanda H. in NYMag." I was like, "Yeah, Mom, I set up that meeting. I know."

Amanda S., Design and Home Editor: I'm pretty sure my mom thinks I'm Kenzi's [Kenzi Wilbur, our Managing Editor] assistant. (I.e., "What did you get your boss for Christmas?" "Is it really appropriate for you to hang out with your boss outside of work?" etc.)

Kristina, Buyer:

  • Left, above: My dad likes to pretend that he's going to set up a rival website called "Food53." He sends me photos of his meals and always includes it as a caption.
  • Right, above: My mom also has a habit of commenting on Food52 ads. She really wants to share with the world that I have "practical taste"!

Alexis, Art Director and Stylist: My dad has no idea what I do. I've explained it to him at least a zillion times.

Jackson, Assistant Buyer: When I started as Assistant Buyer, my mom told me, "It's a shame you're not buying expensive menswear, or you'd have found your perfect job!"

Bridget, COO: As background, my mom is getting quite up in years and is losing her memory a bit. My parents were both immigrants who loyally worked in union jobs their whole lives, way back in the day. Fast-forward to this Thanksgiving and I was trying to very, very generally explain what I did:

Me: I work at a place you can get ideas for cooking.
Mom: Well, I hope it's union wages. Don't let management walk all over you.
My brother: Oh man, I'm so glad Mom doesn't know you're The Man.

Do you have any forehead-smacking "Mom Quotes" to share? Tell us in the comments below!

23 Comments

Emily L. May 9, 2016
I loved this! I can totally relate - my parents don't fully understand the internet -memes are baffling and take hours to explain
 
healthierkitchen May 9, 2016
Stereotyping is not productive. Understanding is productive:<br /><br />https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYdNjrUs4NM<br />
 
Ms. B. May 9, 2016
While I also don’t believe that the author intended malice, the cumulative effect of all the eye-rolls directed at clueless Mom (and other older relatives) left me feeling quite alienated. Implicit in the piece was an “us” versus “them” mentality that seemed a bit jarring. Surely the “us” of Food52 is not characterized only by the young and tech-savvy? And seeing this paired with other Mother’s Day features? Ouch.
 
AntoniaJames May 9, 2016
I agree. Ouch is right. ;o)
 
drbabs May 9, 2016
As one of the "older" active members of Food52, this article broke my heart a little. While I'm sure you each wrote your piece with great love and affection (Who of us hasn't said or written funny things that our parents say? I certainly have--and in the headnotes to recipes on this very site.), the cumulative effect of these has a "you're not welcome here" vibe. I'm positive that this was not your intention. I'm certain that you all love your parents and grandparents very much. But just know that for those of us who are older, maybe a little clueless (I can't figure out the #notrecipes app to save my life), and can identify with your parents, it stings a little.
 
AntoniaJames May 9, 2016
Thank you, drbabs. You speak for so many of us in this thoughtful comment. (I find increasingly of late that many editorial pieces here that "you're not welcome here" vibe. I attribute that to the target demographic -- the big spenders supporting e-commerce and ad revenues -- which quite obviously is not us. This, however, takes ageism to a new level.) ;o)
 
Greenstuff May 9, 2016
There's an irony in that many of the new features seem a little moronic (or at least uninformed) to me--can it be that all generations think that others are idiots? Oh, doh.<br />
 
Rhonda35 May 8, 2016
HILARIOUS! You are a sensitive, positive-minded bunch and, since I share a mother with one of you, I know you ran these stories by your respective relatives before posting them. This piece is light-hearted and loving; thank you for the giggle!
 
healthierkitchen May 9, 2016
Rhonda- I get that your mother and others might have vetted these but despite that, and despite the best of intentions, this is really discriminatory. I don't think there is another legally protected class about whom you could write a piece like this without getting flak. Think about it, would you write a piece about the "cute" but clueless way any protected class - women, people of color, people with disabilities, etc. - behave in the kitchen? You wouldn't and we wouldn't want to read it. As I said below, these stories are individually lighthearted, but as an article compiling them, they just seem disrespectful and take away from the tributes you have paid in the past to great older woman cooks. When we talk about children in the kitchen we treat them with more respect (or at least I hope we do) as our goal is to encourage growth and interest.
 
AntoniaJames May 9, 2016
Hear, hear. ;o)
 
healthierkitchen May 8, 2016
this piece is, perhaps unintentionally, insulting and demeaning to all your lovely mothers and the many women (and men) of the same generation who have loved and supported Food52 for years. Many of us are quite computer and media savvy. As a mother, I will add that what I write to my kids in private texts and emails is not in any way what or how I would write for public consumption. I imagine your relatives are the same way. Amanda and Merrill, I really hope you are reading this because as much as I love that food52 has been successful and as much as I love that my own kids find it fun and relevant, I find this sort of piece inappropriate on a site that started with a whole lot of bloggers and food lovers who are of, as the French say, "un certain age" and on whose recipes and love this site grew. I hope you will reconsider such pieces in the future, unless your intent really is to drive out users older than Millennials. While individually each of these bits about your parents seems cute, cumulatively, they paint a broad swath of agism. Please consider a quick check of your age privilege.
 
AntoniaJames May 9, 2016
I'm so glad you spoke up on this, HK. Apart from its obvious, if perhaps unintended (one might even say "thoughtless") unkindness, this piece is also in such poor taste. That's all I'm going to say. ;o)
 
healthierkitchen May 9, 2016
thank you AJ!
 
Cristina S. May 7, 2016
This is hilarious. I'd had my blog for three years, my Dad telling me all the time that he "read" it--before I realized that he was just seeing the header picture and first paragraph, and never clicking "read more." Apparently he thought it took me a REALLY long to take one photo, write one paragraph, and the actual recipe was invisible?
 
Alexandra K. May 6, 2016
This was really sweet. I especially loved *food53 rival dad*.. haha!
 
Kelly May 6, 2016
I loved this -- so sweet!
 
meganvt01 May 6, 2016
so adorable.
 
Krista L. May 6, 2016
This. Is. The. Best. Totally made my Friday!
 
aargersi May 6, 2016
1) Me! I know what email marketing is! <br />2) I can't even really explain to myself what I do, never mind my mom (and honestly, her eyes glaze over when I say the word database) (and why wouldn't they?) (everyone's do!). But there is email marketing in the mix<br />
 
Taste O. May 6, 2016
My mom kept telling me it was great that I didn't work and stayed at home with my kid. I ran (and still run) a business out of my home.
 
Rachel May 6, 2016
I didn't think it was condescending at all. Someday, our kids are going to be trying to explain what they do, working in jobs that don't even exist today, and we're going to be the ones that are scratching our heads ("that's an actual job that you get paid money to do???"). I struggle with the same problem in telling my grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. what I do. These brought some laughs and hopes that you are all celebrating mother's day with your lovely moms and grandmoms. BTW, where does the nickname Grandma Tubby come from? It's really cute.
 
Jennifer May 6, 2016
I don't think it was meant to be condescending. I found it rather funny since I also have a job that doesn't translate into the world that our parents and grandparents grew up with. Sometimes it is nice to know that we are all struggling with redefinition on how we do things...and there are lots of moments that make us laugh.
 
Chocolate B. May 6, 2016
Wow. Condescending much, Food52 staff?