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.