Meet Food52 Co-Founder Amanda Hesser


If you’ve ever wanted to get inside a food entrepreneur’s head, this is your chance.

Amanda Hesser is a food editor, cookbook author, writer, and co-founder of Food52, which won the James Beard Award for Publication of the Year in 2012 and the IACP Award for Best Website in 2013, among other accolades.

A recent speaker at The Food Lab at Stony Brook Southampton’s Edible Business Conference, Amanda has been named one of Food & Wine’s 40 Big Food Thinkers 40 and Under and one of the 50 most influential women by Gourmet Magazine.

Amanda continues to redefine what it means to be an entrepreneur in the food industry and answered some of our questions about it below:

What’s your response when someone asks what you do at a cocktail party?

I started a site called Food52, where we give people everything they need in their cooking life.

Photo by James Ransom

Photo by James Ransom

How did your career as a writer start and how did it eventually lead you to co-found Food52?

It started when I moved to Europe after college to work in bakeries and restaurants, and the only way to share what I was doing and learning was to write letters to my friends and family. It made me realize that I actually enjoy writing.

I cooked in four countries and wrote a million letters and eventually combined the two. After a decade as a features writer and editor at The New York Times, I started working on a cookbook, The Essential New York Times Cookbook, with Merrill Stubbs.

We spent five years on that book and a ton of time in the kitchen, often chit-chatting about what was going on in the food world. And, to put it very simply, we felt that there was no place online that really spoke to us, or that reflected the exciting changes happening offline.

Fixing this problem and creating Food52 – a place that was beautiful, thoughtful, and comprehensive – was a natural next step.

What are your thoughts on the Slow Food movement?

While the Slow Food movement’s soul was in Europe, it had a huge impact on American food writing and cooking. One could say that we had Alice Waters on the West Coast pushing us to eat locally, and Slow Food from the East pushing us to preserve cooking traditions and celebrate food artisans. Now we have a new generation that lives and breathes all of this.

How do you manage to find balance and maintain a healthy lifestyle as someone who is so passionate about food?

At Food52, we believe that if you eat well, you are living well.

Photo by James Ransom

Photo by James Ransom

You’re having a group of friends over for dinner – what’s on the menu? What are your favorite cooking styles and ingredients?

I cook pretty simply and rely on the greenmarket for inspiration. For a summer dinner, I’d make either pasta with roasted tomatoes and corn or steak with green sauce, and a peach tart with an olive oil crust for dessert.

You recently spoke at the Edible Business Conference – how did you end up involved and what was the experience like?

I was invited by my friend Geoffrey Drummond, who is a founder of the EBC. There are thousands of food businesses cropping up and very few opportunities for the founders of these companies to come together and learn from each other, so this conference, which is in its first year, was an excellent place to start. They kept it small and local so everyone had a chance to meet each other and ask questions at the panels. I hope they’ll do it again next year.

In the food industry, what are the keys to any successful business?

Resourcefulness and determination.

What are the most important components of a good food-based website or blog?

An inclusive community, a point of view, original recipes and ideas, and beautiful photography.

Tell me about the intersection of business and creativity in your life. How do they intermingle and how are they separate?

Business requires a ton of creative thinking and problem solving, two things I love doing. They tend to be inseparable, and that’s just fine with me!


 

Guest Written by Lula Brown

Photo by Francesco Sapienza

Photo by Francesco Sapienza

Lula Brown is a writer, private chef, and whole health expert based in New York City. She’s written for Teen Vogue, Time Out New York, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Creem Magazine, Medical Daily, The Active Times, Aura Cacia and Z Living, and has appeared on The Dr. Oz Show.

Lula has developed, written about, and showcased countless recipes tailored for taste and health, and has worked with hundreds of women and men to heal their digestion, lose weight and have unlimited energy.

You can learn more about Lula at www.goodtastebylula.com.

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