Amanda & Merrill

A Personal Note From Amanda and Merrill

by:
November 10, 2016

To our dear Food52 community,

These past few months and this week’s election have highlighted the uncomfortable truth that there is much that divides us. There’s a lot of hard work to be done.

One place where we’ve always been able to find common ground is around the table—which is where we believe we can make a difference. The ritual of sharing a meal is a vital way that humans connect. We created Food52 to bring people together around food. To be inclusive and generous. To share recipes and debate ideas. To carve out a personal, meaningful experience on the vast, impersonal internet.

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Our company and our vision have grown since then, but the heart of it all remains a belief that eating thoughtfully improves our lives—our family life, our health, our sense of joy.

In this moment, we’d love to know what we could be doing to help strengthen these ties we share. Yes, we’ll make sure you get a great Thanksgiving dinner to the table, have all the best comfort foods on hand, and have every cookie recipe you could ever want. But we’re looking to you to give us ideas that we may not have thought of, to lead us down paths we may not have explored.

Now is our chance to show the world how much all of this matters—how food has the power to unite us and to demonstrate that we care about each other.

We hope to hear from you—we’re listening.

Warmly,

Amanda & Merrill, Founders of Food52

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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418 Comments

Sarah J. December 5, 2016
Hello everyone! In an effort to respond—just partially—to many of your very thoughtful comments, we're pausing our normal contest schedule to focus efforts on sharing more of the recipes and stories that tell the story of you and your families. Read more about how to share your dishes here: https://food52.com/blog/18585-what-recipe-shares-a-story-about-where-you-come-from. We'd love to hear from all of you! <br />
 
juanita November 21, 2016
Hello Amanda and Merrill! Greetings from the other side of the pond! Having recently gone through 'Brexit' I can totally understand your despair and worries regarding how your country may now be viewed. I disagree when you say in your opening paragraph that more things divide us, as I know more things bring us together than divide us. I too felt that way after the Brexit vote was announced. However, after 'licking my wounds' for a short while, I diecided that what I'd do is join a local Refugee self help group where refugee women get together and grow fruit and vegetables and use them to cook and share their meals with women in the same situation. I don't know how that can translate for your Food 52 magazine but perhaps you could bring to our attention the food and lives of people from all the countries of the world to remind us all that - we all eat, we all grow food and we all love our children? Just a thought...
 
Monica B. November 21, 2016
In the spirit of Juanita's post (what a fantastic response to Brexit, Juanita), I would like to share one of the projects that my organization does. We create community driven cookbooks for underserved communities--recent one includes recipes from refugee communities, a current project is with Asian Pacific islander communities. http://leahspantrysf.org/cookbooks/ Just proud to share and and maybe inspiration for Food52.
 
ziniyogini November 17, 2016
I loved food 52 when it started, now it feels like a large percentage of the emails are about selling me "artisanal" or "vintage" things. I liked it better when it was recipes and kitchen tips. But I'm sure have investors now, who want to see sales and that's driving a large part of it.<br /><br />I think there could be a lot more diversity here and I think it could be tied into different holidays. Where were the Indian recipes on divali? I had a wacky mom and we would often celebrate holidays of different religions mainly through food. so even though I was raised catholic she would make seder suppers etc, it was really interesting and a great way for us to learn about different cultures. I think that would be a great element here. She was also the dean of foreign students at an engineering school, so we had lots of asian guests and meals at our house. but through these sharings around the table a world was opened up to us. You have the ability to do that here, especially by tying into holidays of different religions and cultures. <br /><br />We were just in mexico for day of the dead. YOu guys could have done a whole week of recipes around that. The special black mole and tamales, the booming insect cuisine in not only oaxaca but mexico city. the varieties of mezcal, the amazing mexican wines and food coming out of baja now. How great would it have been for you to celebrate mexico right before the election. The tradition of day of the dead is that you bring the deceased favorite foods to the cemetery, the whole family comes and you sit around the grave and tell the deceased everything that has happened in the past year. It's such a sacred, beautiful tradition. Even if as john oliver reminded us 2016 did suck. When's ramadam? Our turkish friends always do amazing, end of day traditional feasts.<br /><br />So more diversity, food 52 regional groups that do food bank/nutritional education/charity based outreach. Seriously so much cheaper and healthier to eat rice and beans if you are broke. I know I've been there. <br /><br />I don't like the app it's confusing and doesn't really give usable recipes. agree if you take the time to try a recipe you want it to work. Probably more ideas but have to fly. Good luck.
 
Rach3190 November 20, 2016
I agree with all of this and have been with Food52 for years as well.
 
Dawn D. November 17, 2016
I have enjoyed Food52 since discovering it, and as a long-time cook, the one thing I would recommend if possible, is that your in-house chefs 'test-kitchen' the recipes you recommend. I realize you offer hundreds, but I have tried some that have just not turned out well or even as pictured. Confidence in a recipe source is very important to me. Thanks for listening!
 
Christine H. November 17, 2016
I totally agree with this comment!
 
Laura W. November 15, 2016
Native Harvests: American Indian Wild Foods and Recipes by E. Barrie Kavasch was a good book I would read often in our library at my culinary school...and fry bread is an interesting Southwestern Native American food to look into and make and offers a delicious neutral carrier for all sorts of proteins and veg dishes...and a very cool episode of The Mind of a Chef on PBS from Season 2/Episode 8 has chef Sean Brock traveling to Senegal to trace some origins of Low Country cooking and finds commonalities between the food that he knows and cooks and Senegalese cooking...stuff like that is what will maybe help to bridge some of the gaps between our severely fractured population...hopefully...best to all
 
picaresquity November 15, 2016
Oh! One last thing -- how about encouraging the talented and amateur cooks on this site to share their skills and their bounty with the less fortunate? Maybe a post on getting involved with local food banks, teaching cooking skills to underprivileged youth, how to donate food and what to donate, etc. It's topical during the Thanksgiving season but sorely needed year-round.
 
picaresquity November 15, 2016
I'd also love to see more diversity on this site. Of course -- there are plenty of recipes that highlight many cultures, but some of them are very well-worn paths in the food world (although I love French and Italian cooking as much as the next person). For Thanksgiving, how about featuring some native American recipes? One of the best meals I've ever had was at the Museum for the American Indian in DC, and I keep thinking it's an untapped source of creativity and deliciousness as far as food is concerned.
 
Kaitlin L. November 15, 2016
Aloha Amanda and Merrill!<br /><br />Being born and raised in Hawaii there is little that really divides us. Living on an island with a vast amount of cultures blending together its hard to separate anything, especially when many of us are at least two or more ethnicities (my one friend is 13! she remembers them alphabetically so she doesn't forget). Part of it may be living on an island, that we are also somewhat dependent on each other. The other part I believe is cultural, whether we are a native Hawaiian or not, we are all taught at a young age, what aloha really means (as corny as it sounds).<br /><br />If you were to see thanksgiving spreads in the islands, you will most likely find no two tables are similar. Some of us have Kalua Turkey some will have a traditional. Lomi Salmon, Sushi, Poke, Chinese Noodle Dishes, Lumpia, Pinakbet, to twists on traditional like baked sweet potatoes with a coconut cream sauce. Many of us have large families that overflows out of the house, while there are some of us with smaller families that join together. There is always lots of music, food, laughs, and are always happy to invite more guests. I can think of no better way to celebrate a time of unity when looking at a table with food from so many different cultures and many of which over time have fused together to create something new entirely. <br /><br />I think viewing dishes that have different cultures infused into one, old fashioned meals revived with a new flair, or even something entirely new will bring a fresh take on thanksgiving.<br /><br />Katie
 
Basil A. November 14, 2016
Thank you, Amanda and Merrill for your beautiful food, perspective and sentiment. Your recipes have enhanced many of my meals and I thank you for that. Your website has also inspired me to create my own recipes which I've loved sharing with my friends and family in what I personally describe as #breakingbreadtogetherinstyle. The idea that the table is where we can come together is powerful. Today's post election state is difficult and complicated (regardless of who you support) and our divide is awkward and sad. I found your gracious way of approaching and acknowledging that meaningful. It makes me hopeful that we can listen to each other and find ways to respect each other. In my family, we go around the table after eating our thanksgiving meal and each share what we're thankful for this year. After each person shares, we all enthusiastically tap on the table and cheer, supporting and celebrating what the last person said. This simple exercise bring me a lot of joy and I wanted to share. <br /><br />In regards to your food, I'd love to hear more about the history of dishes or any cultural aspects that impact the recipe. It would be a nice way to honor other people's cultures and traditions while enjoying beautiful food and what I call #theprivilegetoindulge.<br /><br />Wishing you continued success and happy holidays!<br />Naz
 
Eva Q. November 13, 2016
<br />Dear A&M, <br /><br />I love how soulful and sincere your intentions are. Food, to me, brings people together and has the capacity to affect real social change. This site doesn't do that - don't get me wrong, I love food52 and the online community its built. But it's never tried to address the socioeconomic issues around food, poverty and community. I'm not proposing that this site turn its efforts into a NGO...but maybe there's a portion of the food52 community that wants to both find yet another elusive best chocolate chip cookie recipe *and* also make a difference in their community. Food stewardship? Community kitchens? Restaurants for change?<br /><br />I don’t have a specific suggestion/direction but I know in my bones that when we share food, it’s an inherently inclusive and caring act. <br /><br />Some reading (a profile of Canadian Nick Saul) that revved me up. Full disclosure, I'm a Canadian. :)<br /><br />https://www.thestar.com/news/ken_dryden_canada_day/2014/06/30/food_activist_nick_saul_on_why_were_ripe_for_a_revolution.html
 
Laura W. November 13, 2016
Hi Amanda and Merrill...what I would like to see more of is perspective from many other viewpoints of people who haven't necessarily gotten a place to express themselves in a safer public forum...I am a daily reader of Food52 and I live in NYC and am exposed to more than some places in the country and that is something I most love about living here...but I still miss so much of what other's life experiences are...food is a place where we can all try and find a commonality...one of the very best food articles I have read on this site and also anywhere is the one from Michael Twitty on his experiences of being a black, gay and southern man...there were some not so nice comments about it, but most were overwhelmingly positive...but reading his words, I found some understanding of what his experience is...there is an organization called Servas, that was founded in the 70's, and it's still around and it's a travel network of people all over the world where the hosts open their homes and also their kitchens, to travelers, for free, but with the expectation that each side (host and traveler) share some of their lives with each other...it's hard to pick up a gun against someone, if you have spent time seeing how they live...that is their motto...I think Servas is Esperanto for peace...I traveled that way through India...my sister did that through Italy and some of Central America...no one was fancy or chefs or anything...just real folks sharing and asking real questions of each other...and sharing how they live...and sitting and eating a meal...so that is what I would like to see more of...and thank you Diana Grayson... digging what you said...
 
Chelsea November 13, 2016
Amanda and Merrill, <br />thank you for your heartfelt email, it was received when most needed. I believe in the hard work to be done, and the magic of sitting down with food to have those hard discussions. Thank you for providing a forum and recipes to start this. To everyone, remember we are all people deserving of respect, which should come from all sides.
 
Windischgirl November 12, 2016
Bravo Diana! You said it perfectly. Thank you so much.
 
Diana G. November 12, 2016
P.S. Please feel free to crucify me for the typos. If you take the point to heart, I won't mind a bit! :)
 
Diana G. November 12, 2016
Okay everybody, let's take a deep breath and a step back. Let's remember that we are all in this together. Let's trust in our system of government and the inherent checks and balances that our founding fathers had the foresight to build into it. Are there elitists and bigots amongst us? Of course there are, there always have been and there always will be. Are they the majority of us or our elected officials, I don't think so. The majority of us our good people who want the best for our country. That we can't agree all agree on what that looks like or to get there is the issue. Real discussion and compromise is what will let us figure it out. Continuing to shout accusations at each other will just continue exacerbate the problem. The sort of acrimonious rhetoric I'm seeing in these comments are what have gotten us here. Let's quit spouting that nonsense, actually listen to each other, and find ways to come together as both our current president and the president elect have encouraged us to do.<br /><br />Amanda & Merrill,<br />Sorry to have gotten sidetracked from your request but felt that needed to be said. Now onto the task at hand, somewhat in line with my preamble, I think it important to know the story behind the food, whether it be personal, regional, or cultural. Please share those, whether from personal experience or research so we can learn not just to enjoy new foods and recipes but also about whoever and wherever it comes from.<br /><br />I have the great good fortune to be reminded of my heritage, my upbringing, all the wonderful places where I've lived and visited, and all the amazing people that have come into my life with every meal. I remember my Polish immigrant grandparents every time I make cabbage rolls or poppyseed coffee cake, my Scottish grandparents when I make raspberry almond "cheese" tartlets, my rural Midwestern childhood and the salt-of-the-earth people who live there whenever I bake bread, make meatloaf or mac & cheese. Mexican food reminds me of watching in amazement the first time I watched my mother-in-law make flour tortillas with skill and ease. Crab cakes make me nostalgic for my years in Hampton Roads and Washington DC. Dim sum treats me to me memories of the amazing ladies of Chinese descent in San Francisco who taught me not just what to order but also about the tradition. Basque and Japanese food say Boise to me and remind me of what I learned there about the strength and resilience of the people of both cultures. I currently am treated to insight into Hindu religious holidays and foods by a kind coworker who shares them with us. I've lived and traveled throughout this great country and learned so much about it's people, often through and over the food. <br /><br />Maybe if we all sat down and ate a meal together, we could better understand each other. As that's a logistic nightmare, how about we do the next best thing by reading the stories behind the food? Our love of it is already common ground, let's build on that!
 
creamtea November 12, 2016
Thanks for this.
 
rita R. November 12, 2016
I have prepared 2 dinners using FOOD52 recipes over the last 2 nights, and followed this email chain while cooking, even getting caught up enough to respond. What an incredible social and psychological study, interspersed with great ideas for the website. Kudos ladies, for not shutting it down when some of your followers revealed themselves to be ugly, hurtful and divisive, but instead letting us be reassured by the overwhelming number of positive, inclusive and loving posts.
 
Sunni November 12, 2016
I have to say I am stunned by some of the awful posts in response to your note. I found it thoughtful and applaud Amanda & Merrill's desire to help unite people during a time of strife and division. You said: "These past few months and this week’s election have highlighted the uncomfortable truth that there is much that divides us. There’s a lot of hard work to be done." It's true, and I see nothing biased in your comments. There have been some good responses, but I won't be following the comments any more, as so many have been negative and even hateful, (what's with that?) and there's been too much of that on both sides for far too long. But I will continue to follow FOOD52. I enjoy it. And I'd love to see articles and recipes and products about food from many different cultures and countries.
 
Emma Y. November 12, 2016
Amanda & Merrill,<br /><br />Thank you so much for your letter and opening up the conversation. Please, keep letting the food tell the stories. A well placed letter or editorial can be illuminating, but the daily sharing of stories through food has been the most powerful. It seems like most conversation has been abandoned for lectures and rants, which I know make me defensive and closed-off. So please, keep the stories coming even more intentionally from Neighbors of all backgrounds-majority and minority. As you have stated over and again on Food52, no matter how different we all are, we all have to feed ourselves, so why not use that as a connection point?<br /><br /> Keep up the good fight for conversation!<br /><br />Grace and peace,<br />Emma<br /><br />
 
txchick57 November 12, 2016
Might want to start carrying play doh and coloring books in the store. From the looks of these comments, you might have a good market here.
 
Duchess O. November 12, 2016
Call me when the conversation is about food. Dump all your friends who don't think exactly like you and call us creeps or put us all in a little box of cliches, then get a hanky and dry those hateful nasty little eyes. Trump is too busy trying to bail this country out to notice the protesting. Obama ran up more debt than ALL previous presidents combined, struck a deal with a country that hates us and Queen Hillary, the deposed monarch, took money from countries where women can't get an education, drive or travel AND where female mutilation is a standard practice. Bill Clinton is a rapist, an adulterer and hung a young woman name Monica out to dry. Anthony Weiner is a porn star disguised as a politician, whose wife helped Hillary delude herself into thinking this country wants a queen. And those protesters out there who can't make it to class because they're devastated by election results? Wait until they assume the burden of debt that has been run up in the last 8 years. That will give them something to protest. <br />I thought this was going to be a place where people came together, not call people names because they didnt get their way. Trump's here to stay. After reading all these comments, I'm glad I voted for him, and wish i couldve voted 2 or 3 more times like the Dems regularly do. Yes, of course you assume I'm a racist, homophobic, creep because creeps aren't as open minded and tolerant as you. Hey, no irony here kids!<br />Well, this has been lots of fun. We all got to express ourselves. <br />That's America! Adios, Food52!
 
Linda November 12, 2016
Duchess of Scone, I agree with you 100%. The past 8 years have divided our country due to lack of leadership by Obama. My family and friends voted for Trump to turn this country around. The leftists violent protests are burning our cities, beating people over their right to vote, and vandalizing cars and businesses AND then try to blame Trump! Food52? Millenials, Gen X looking for "safe harbour & safe spaces"??? Grow up, accept responsibility and stop the blaming. No wonder these groups are called snowflakes! Meltdowns??? Can't go to classes or grieving over an election??? Wow who raised you? I am thoroughly fed up with the leftists antics. Adios, Food52. Who are you going to blame when your business fails? We have better things to do. I'm proud of our country and did not threaten to move out of the country because I was "offended". I'm proud to live in America. <br />America! Adios, Food52! I will choose websites/that promote positive, not violent protests.
 
abbyarnold November 12, 2016
My goodness, Duchess, take a deep breath. We are choosing to build understanding among people who don't agree with each other. After reading your post, To read the anger and vitriol in your post is shocking to me. I wonder why you are choosing to be a #sore winner.