Food52’s test kitchens are the heart (er, stomach?) of our humble headquarters. At the moment, we have almost 50,000 recipes—from our team, our contributors, and our community members. We take a tremendous amount of pride in this wonderful mix of recipes, but it might make a reader (maybe you!) wonder: How can someone tell the difference between a recipe from our test kitchen and one submitted by a community member?
The answer: Our Test Kitchen–Approved recipe tag. When you see this, you’ll know that the recipe has gone through our nitpicky (in a good way!) test kitchen—and probably our home kitchens, too. We’ve made the cookie dough with a stand mixer and by hand to see which one is better, timed just how long it takes for those three chopped onions to caramelize, increased the baking powder by 1/4 teaspoon to see if it was worth it (it wasn’t), and taken the internal temperature of everything from a pan-seared steak to a loaf of brioche.
In short, we’ve obsessed over every measurement and instruction until it’s just right. Which is to say: Test Kitchen–Approved is our staff’s stamp of approval. We hope it’ll guide you toward some of your new favorite recipes.
These are the pros who make all our food dreams come to life, along with a supporting cast of superstars who do everything from chopping and roasting to dish-washing and taste-testing (the best part).
Allison Bruns Buford
Allison started her culinary career by plating desserts, from shaping tuiles to un-molding molten chocolate cakes at Rialto restaurant, in Cambridge, MA. She then moved to New York City to work at Eleven Madison Park, where she was up to her elbows in foie, and had the privilege of working in their private dining kitchen. In 2012, she joined the Food52 test kitchen, and she's been making the site's recipes better ever since. These days, Allison makes sure our test kitchen is a well-(olive)-oiled machine, whether that's overseeing the cooking for a photoshoot, gathering her mis en place for a cake, or searing steaks to a picture-perfect golden-brown. After work, she goes home to her husband and daughters in Brooklyn—and hopefully has lentil soup with a glass of red wine for dinner.
Ask Allison Anything...
Most-used tool in the test kitchen? Mini tongs.
Favorite pasta recipe on Food52? Our Co-Founder Merrill Stubbs’s Pasta with Tomatoes, Corn, Squash and Ricotta. It makes me think of warm weather and picnics, and I love the use of ricotta.
Can't-live-without condiment? Crystal hot sauce.
Kristen Miglore was an economist in another life, until she set her sights on food publishing. After earning her Master's in Food Studies from NYU and a culinary degree from ICE, she got her feet wet at places like Saveur and Martha Stewart—then joined Food52 in 2010. You probably know her as our resident Genius Recipe–hunter (and author of Genius Recipes and Genius Desserts). This means she spends her days scouring cookbooks and testing recipes, sure, but also writing weekly newsletters and trying not to burn herself on camera. She also always has an eye on her email ([email protected]) for the next Genius tip—hopefully from you!
Ask Kristen Anything...
Can't-live-without kitchen tool? A bench scraper—for any kitchen task where my hands aren’t big enough (or…sharp enough).
Most stained cookbook? Don’t make me pick! Honestly, it’s probably the “reference section”—Shirley Corriher, Harold McGee, J. Kenji López-Alt, Hervé This, Rose Levy Beranbaum, and Russ Parsons don’t know it, but they’re my unofficial advisory board.
Fallback weeknight dinner? Breakfast.
Emma grew up in the Taylor-ham half of New Jersey. She stayed in the Northeast through college (graduating from Hamilton, where she led a freewheeling challah club), then moved to North Carolina. There, she worked as a line cook, nocturnal baker, restaurant critic, culinary instructor, food writer, and recipe developer. And ate a lot of fried chicken. Add up all those experiences and you get her role at Food52, where she develops recipes and writes about them. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, which is all about big flavor and little ingredient lists.
Ask Emma Anything...
All-time favorite Food52 recipe? I could have Barbara Kafka's Creamy Lemon Pasta for dinner any night—hopefully with our Co-Founder Amanda Hesser's Chocolate Dump-It Cake for dessert.
Ingredient you go through the fastest? Probably butter. I use unsalted constantly for recipe development, and there's always some salted on my kitchen counter, waiting for warm toast.
Condiment you put on everything? Right now, Lao Gan Ma's spicy chili crisp. I have six jars at home and one at work.
Coral grew up in Southern California and studied poetry at Middle-of-Nowhere College for two years before deciding to pursue art conservation in New York City. But, while on a fellowship shooting lasers at frescoes in Herculaneum, Coral realized she was thinking about the local olives way more than the crumbling art…and that it was probably time for a change. Since falling into the restaurant world—becoming a pastry apprentice, then a fish butcher, then a sushi chef—she’s developed, tested, and styled recipes for numerous cookbooks, magazines, food businesses, and brands. Her styling and recipes are guided by what makes sense seasonally and ethically. When not cooking or writing about food, she’s talking about it—her Heritage Radio Network show, Meant to Be Eaten, explores cross-cultural exchange as afforded by food.
Ask Coral Anything...
Most-used tool for cooking? I love this pair of long metal tweezers a fellow test kitchen cook, Townsend Smith, gifted me. They’re high heat–resistant (wonderful for open-flame grilling while camping), and nimble (perfect for flipping thin slices of garlic frying in olive oil).
Great lesson you took away from working in kitchens? Less is always more. This was taught out of concern for cost, but the mindset stuck: You can say more with less.
We're coming over for dinner! What're you making? Snacks. Lots of little, passable things—like marinated olives, hand salads, dips and dippables, tangerines and broken chocolate for dessert—keeps things casual, so we (me included!) can spend more time chatting and enjoying each other.
Anna was born and raised in New York City. She has degrees in both photography from Purchase College and culinary arts from The Natural Gourmet Institute, making her the perfect person to ensure that every strand of spaghetti that comes out of our test kitchen is ready for its close-up. Before joining the Food52 team in 2018, she worked a million food jobs—private chef, pickle pickler, school lunch lady, and oyster shucker, to name a few. When she’s not artfully arranging herbs over a grain salad or getting that swoosh right on a meringue, she’s trying out an old New York haunt before it goes out of business, ordering a wedge salad, or hanging with a small dachshund named Lily.
Ask Anna Anything...
Can't-live-without cookbook? Marcella Says by Marcella Hazan. But my book with the most butter stains is Breakfast Lunch and Tea by Rose Carrarini. Her broccoli cake blew my mind the first time I came across it.
Favorite tool for frosting swooshes? A big soup/dinner spoon. We all have those, and everyone deserves a little swoosh of their own—no fancy tools needed.
Go-to dinner party menu? A baked potato bar! As a dessert-slash-side, a Jell-O mold (booze not imperative but recommended). And if I'm entertaining my mom, or some royalty, throw the Jell-O mold out the window and sub in a flourless chocolate cake.
For more videos straight from our test kitchen, check out our video page!