Whether you’ve been part of our community for one year or all ten-plus, you’ve probably heard about our Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks (and if you haven’t, take a gander here—there’s quite a bit to catch up on!). Fifteen-second version: The Piglet is our annual month-long cookbook competition, in which sixteen of the very best cookbooks of the year enter into a bracketed-style face-off until one is deemed the winner. The judges—some of our favorite voices both in and outside of the food world—write (or video-record, or draw) an extended judgment declaring the winner and explaining their selection process.
We love the Piglet for its impassioned controversy, friendly competition, and insightful, in-depth coverage of the year’s top cookbooks. Most of all, we love the Piglet for its spirited community involvement: A dedicated group of you returns year after year to catch all the action and weigh in yourself. But as our community grows larger, and your interests become even more wide-ranging, we’ve realized we need to take a step back to listen and learn from you.
What we’ve learned is that the current way the Piglet’s run might not be working for you anymore. The last few years in particular, we’ve seen that readership has fallen quite a bit. Far fewer of you are engaging (and debating!) in the comments, or following along on social media. This could be because of a few things: You’ve mentioned that you’ve had a harder time finding the Piglet on our website lately; that you’d already heard about the books in the running that year, or didn’t like the sound of them; and that you didn’t get the message when we’ve had to make tweaks to the tournament’s dates or features.
We’ve also learned that you appreciate two things in particular about the Piglet: deep-dives into cookbooks and thoughtful takes from our community. Case in point: Excitement around the Piglet Community Picks has remained stronger than ever. (This is the mini-competition that takes place alongside the Piglet, where you select and review a small handful of books that didn’t make it into the main tournament, but that you still thought should get their fair shake.) This past year alone, hundreds of you reached out to us with book ideas, generously offered to test recipes and write detailed reviews of each title, and helped folks discover some of their new favorite cookbooks as a result.
Taking all of this feedback into account, we’ve decided to do things a little differently this year. Starting in February, we’re going to be replacing the Piglet in its existing shape with another type of cookbook competition. Instead of naming the best books of the year, we’re on the hunt for the best cookbooks of all time.
While we’ll give you the full scoop in just a few weeks, the gist is this: We’re going to ask you to nominate your go-to cookbooks in specific categories (say, breadmaking, grilling, Sichuan cuisine, and so on). Then, we’ll identify the five most-nominated books in each category, and ask community members to test through and review all five at once. What we hope will emerge is a series of thoughtful, considered, canonical reviews—and a group of all-star cookbooks that we’ll gladly pile onto our shelves.
We know many of you look forward to the Piglet each spring, and we’re so thankful that you’ve stuck with us for its ten action-packed years. We’re really excited about this new initiative, and can’t wait to kick things off in just a few weeks. We hope you’ll love it as much as we do.
Yours in cookbook appreciation,
The Food52 Team
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!