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Testing Recipes for Home Cooks


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#1 TPO

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 07:30 AM

Ms. Reichl,

Judging by the success I have had using Gourmet recipes, I'm sure they are tested thoroughly. I am curious, however, about how you ensure the recipes will work well for average home cooks with varying equipment and skill levels.

Also, I wonder if the testing process has changed over the years, particularly if there were any changed you have made.
Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

#2 Ruth Reichl

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 01:13 PM

Ms. Reichl,

Judging by the success I have had using Gourmet recipes, I'm sure they are tested thoroughly. I am curious, however, about how you ensure the recipes will work well for average home cooks with varying equipment and skill levels.

Also, I wonder if the testing process has changed over the years, particularly if there were any changed you have made.

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WE've got 8 test kitchens, but none of them has professional equipment; they're all basic home kitchens, with GE stoves, regular blenders, mixers, etc. Visitors are always surprised by this. We buy our food at regular markets.

When I got to Gourmet and went around and asked editors what their wish lists were Zanne said, without hesitation, "I wish we could cross-test all the recipes."
"Done!" I said naively, not understanding that I was adding a person to the staff, and a major expense. But it's been worth it. We hired a passionate cook, a non-professional, and he takes the finished recipes and does one last run-through. If there's a problem, he finds it.

The other change I've made is to hire cooks of differing ethnicities as vacancies opened up. So that everyone wasn't French or American trained.

#3 jsolomon

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 01:21 PM

I'd like to extend the question to whether this decision making process is also extended to cooks with limited ability to procure a wide array of ingredients.

Disclosure: this is from my experience growing up and living in a "flyover" a.k.a. food-producing state.

Further disclosure: I was displeased with Gourmet before Ms. Reichl's tenure at Gourmet and never renewed my subscription :sad:
I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.