The Piglet

A Recap of The Piglet's Round 2

March 30, 2018

The second round of the Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks hath concluded, and some knockout judges (Tim Gunn! Rachael Ray!) knocked out some very good cookbooks. The competition is getting fierce.

Here’s a recap of how the second round went down. Check back for the third round (semifinals!) on April 2nd and click here for an updated bracket to follow along.

Bangkok v. BraveTart

Judged by Tim Gunn

In Tim Gunn’s review, we learn a lot about him—so much, it’s like one of those “what’s in your purse?” sections of a tabloid. Most shocking: He does not cook with salt. Really, he’s had the same salt cellar for a decade. (Wonder what he would’ve said about Samin’s 50+ pages on salt in Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.)

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We also learn that Fig Newtons are his favorite cookie, and though he loves a figgy, wheaty cookie, he’s not a baker. But that doesn’t stop him from baking his way through BraveTart—and falling for this thing called a stand mixer.

Night + Market vs. Pho

Judged by Jen Agg

While the tournament asks judges to cook from each of their books, Jen Agg went about things in a different way; she loves cookbooks for their ability to transport you through words and images, even if you never cook from them. Her approach certainly rustled some Piglet readers' feathers. Ultimately, Agg chose the book that she wanted to hang out in more—the book that “doesn’t just introduce you to the food of another culture, it creates its own world, one you’d happily inhabit permanently.”

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat vs. Kachka

Judged by Rachael Ray

The way Rachael Ray writes is pretty infectious, and she—and the Food Network—know it. On the Next Food Network Star, they instruct contestants to lead with the story behind the dish in order to bring people to your symbolic “table"; it's something Ray does effortlessly and without instruction.

She judges two cookbooks with lofty concepts played out in light, enthusiastic ways. On the winning book, Ray says it best herself: “This book is effin’ cool—it’s both inspiring and a party waiting to happen.”

Six Seasons vs. Kaukasis

Judged by Kevin Kwan

Kevin Kwan might win the medal for “best sport” of this year’s tournament: He judged not two but three books (oops!). For someone who isn’t a frequent home cook, Kwan did a great job picking up the essence of each title (and was smart in getting friends to help with the cooking).

Kwan found Kaukasis to be a true odyssey, while Six Seasons expanded his love of vegetables (or maybe just pasta with broccoli and sausage). Even after cooking thoroughly through his three books, though, there's one he just can't quit.


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!


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • karenschulman
  • Melina
  • Lindsay-Jean Hard
    Lindsay-Jean Hard
  • txchick57
Editor/writer/stylist. Author of I Dream of Dinner (so You Don't Have To). Last name rhymes with bagel.


karenschulman March 30, 2018
Hi. Where is the bracket? Am I missing something? I can't find it. It just feels like Food52 isn't giving this contest the attention it deserves. There are always controversial reviews, but this year it really feels sloppy and disrespectful to both the authors and community members who follow this contest. One other unrelated note - it just feels like Amanda and Merrill aren't around anymore and only come to the community when they want our feedback to sell us something, which makes me feel a bit used. The site really feels like it has changed and not for the better.
Lindsay-Jean H. March 31, 2018
Hi karenschulman, you can find the bracket right here:
Melina March 30, 2018
I think this recap makes it pretty clear that the delay was about the mistake on day 12 rather than the non review of day 10. It is also clear that both food 52 and the author of that tantrum thought this would be a fun way to "rustle feathers".
It is, after all, their contest and they can run it as they wish. As for the idea of reviewing books by their layout, design and writing, why not? I would say that doesn't quite work in a contest with clear and specific rules. Furthermore, we did not get a serious well thought through consideration of two books; we got a petulant and false rebellion meant to promote the author.
I have loved the Piglet and promoted it to lots of people; but this fiasco has soured my enthusiasm. It seems to be more about generating comments (see bratty Twitter of day 10 self promoter), and not really about respecting the people who wrote these books or those of us who are avid amateurs seeking guidance and a like minded community. For whatever it is worth (and I have no illusions), I'm done.
txchick57 March 30, 2018
they need eyeballs. Remember 2000? It was a valuation currency. LOL