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What Our Parents Think Our Jobs Are

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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.
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?"

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.

How to Make a Flag Cake for the Fourth of July
How to Make a Flag Cake for the Fourth of July

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!

Myrtle & Thistle Wreath

Myrtle & Thistle Wreath

Pink Glass 3-Piece Mixing Bowl Set

Pink Glass 3-Piece Mixing Bowl Set


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!"

First Look at the New Food52 Office, Brought to You by #MOVE52
First Look at the New Food52 Office, Brought to You by #MOVE52

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!

Tags: Ephemera, Too Many Cooks