Alums who do cool things: Merrill Stubbs ’99, co-founder of Food52

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Whether you’re a self-proclaimed “foodie” or your Instagram feed is essentially #eeeeeats, you’ve probably heard of Food52 (they cook 52 weeks a year, get it?). The popular blog seeks to “bring cooks together from all over to exchange recipes and ideas to support each other in the kitchen.” Food52 was built on the premise that “if you want to eat better, and you want to help change our food system, you need to cook. Maybe not all the time, but some. You don’t have to eat local foods every day; you don’t have to shop at the farmers market every week. But it’s good to try. We’re not extremists in a cult of purity, slow-foodness, or locavorosity. We’re realists who believe in applying the best aspects of those food movements to our everyday lives.” Moreover, Food52 brings us mouth-watering “foodstagrams” and a great form of online procrastination not in quiz form.

What you might not know is that a co-founder of the culinary hub once dined in the Ratty and frequented late-night Jo’s. Meet Merrill Stubbs ’99 – food-lover, Brooklynite, and Brown alum. I had the opportunity to chat with Merrill about the website’s recipe for success. She even dished out advice for those sans meal-plan.

BlogDH: Why did you start Food52?

Merrill: My partner Amander Hesser and I started Food52 some years ago, and we had been working on a cookbook for the New York Times. We had been observing what had been going on in the food space online. We were observing the explosion in food blogs and there was this interesting food movement that was clearly going on offline as well. People were getting into cooking as a past time, as a way to interact with people. There certainly wasn’t a place for all these people to gather, share their knowledge, expertise, and generally have a conversation. We set out to create that place. It’s a platform to share recipes, share knowledge about cooking, general support, and create a community. It’s a hub for all things food. We started out mainly on recipes, but we’ve built it into a 360-degree food-lifestyle brand, a one-stop shop for food and cooking.

BlogDH: Did you have any previous food-related work experiences before Food52?

Merrill: I actually went to cooking school in London at Le Cordon Bleu a year after I graduated from Brown. When I moved back to the states, I worked in food for several years – in the test kitchen at America’s Test Kitchen, in a couple different restaurants in the Boston area. I started doing food writing by writing a food newsletter. It was like a very primitive form of blogging.

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Art School(ed): JISD, a RISD neighbor in the blogosphere

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In the spring of 2013, a new blog erupted on the RISD cyber scene. Down the hill from the Main Green, Jen Berry started posting a comic series, JISD, informed by all she had experienced throughout RISD’s Foundation year. (Foundation year is RISD terminology for the freshman class’ mandatory, studio-intensive curriculum. Along with two introductory liberal arts courses per term, freshmen must take all three of the 8-hour long Foundation studio courses in the fall and spring semester: Drawing, Design, and Spatial Dynamics. RISD freshmen can be recognized by the charcoal under their fingernails and the bags under their eyes.)

JISD took the bounty of absurd material from this sleepless year and transformed it into an entertaining and witty comic series that can make any Foundation year rosier and more bearable. JISD pulls back the curtain and serves as an accurate lens into the lifestyle of a typical RISD student (if such a thing as a “typical RISD student” exists). Now a sophomore, Berry pens more about rising from the bottom of the RISD food chain and spending her first year in a declared major. Art School(ed) got up close and personal with this art school blogging legend, after the jump. Continue Reading