Foodista Accepts a Challenge

October 15, 2009

Foodista has recently been covered in both the New York Times and TIME Magazine. I was quoted, and to provide a counterpoint, so was Christopher Kimball of Cook's Illustrated. Between these two articles, Condé Nast announced that they were shutting down Gourmet, and in response Mr. Kimball wrote this Op-Ed piece in the New York Times. Let me start by saying that I have deep respect for Mr. Kimball and what he has built, but I also disagree with his assessment of the Internet, Wikis, and how it all works. I was thinking about writing a response to the Op-Ed, and then earlier today noticed that Mr. Kimball issued the following challenge on his blog:

The current rage is the WIKI recipe notion — a community of on-line foodies who can select and tweak recipes to come up with the best possible version. Then there is the opposite contention — I think that only a professional test kitchen with substantial resources, strict testing protocol, and lots of time can develop the very “best” recipes, all things being equal. So, I am willing to put my money, and my reputation, where my big mouth is. I offer a challenge to any supporter of the WIKI or similar concept to jump in and go head to head with our test kitchen. We will jointly agree on a recipe, on the rules, on a time frame, etc. At the end, we will ask a panel of impartial judges to make and test the recipes and declare a winner. Should be fun! Who is interested?

I posted a response comment on his blog accepting the challenge, it is awaiting moderation. This should be interesting! What do you think?



Meagan Rogers's picture

I may not be a chef but I know what is really a good food. I don't really refer my taste buds to few known culinarians but if the food sounds healthy to me, that is what matters.

Michele B's picture

I have been following this discussion and am glad to see you accept the challenge!

If crowd-sourced recipes can run with the test kitchen, would love to see if you can measure how many unique contributors/edits it takes.

paul redman's picture

seems like great guy, love the magazine and his show. Can't help but think he must feel a little threatened, however, by what you guys have put together. Endangered species ? :)

Vicki's picture

"only a professional test kitchen...can develop the very “best” recipes"...???

So generations of grandmas have no idea what they're doing in a kitchen?

I hope you kick his test kitchen's butt.

kitchenMage's picture

I love that you accepted Kimball's challenge, it will be interesting to watch this develop. I do find myself wishing that we could all just get along. As a member of the online food community, I find it invaluable. Haven't had a chance to dig too deeply into Foodista's recipes, but I plan to.

I also own several of the "Best Recipe" series and find them extremely useful in my own recipe development. It's like having my own test kitchen that does the work to figure out the technical average of a dish and then details out some of the effects of changing key variables.Do I cook their recipes as printed? Almost never, and then almost only once.

Have you thought about which recipe(s) you want to use for the throwdown? I also think that both recipes should be released to the Internet so that we can cook along and vote for our favorites somewhere. Professional judges are nice, but this is about what happens when the recipe hits the hands of the millions of people who cook at home every day, not what happens when the recipes are produced in a test kitchen, right?

carla's picture

Whooo hooo! Here is what you have been waiting for. What great publicity. Go for it. You are up against a big rival. This is what it is all about. Believe in yourself and be sure to edit the occasional toy truck. I agree with the statement before this one. I think most of us read the recipes for ideas and then change them a little bit. Good luck you guys. Go for it, Barnaby!

eM's picture

All I know is that the mac N cheese recipe in their "Best Recipes" book (aka "the anal cookbook" in our house) is far far far away from the best recipe
I don't read the mag or watch the show because I think cooking should be fun - not some uptight exercise

amyp's picture

I think you should kick his ass! (Can I say "ass" on Foodista?) Go get 'em, Tiger.

Siiri's picture

I don't see why we can't all just co-exist (I know, I know, this is the Reed Hippie in me talking). Everyone is right to some degree. Clearly all our gramma's and great gramma's had their fingers on the pulse of what was good, and they shared recipes, tips and tricks just as we do today. But it's also great to have some people out there (like Kimball) that can test all those recipes and see which ones really stand out, so if it's important to have the more dense or more moist or more springy, etc., cake, you know what to use/do. There's value in both perspectives. I think Kimball is a little naive to believe that people all over the country are abondoning their gramma's recipe for apple cobbler simply because he tested 15 and our gramma's wasn't the top dog.
Food is about more than just an arbitrary set of criteria that makes something "the best." What about the memories attached to a dish prepared in a certain way? The way a dish makes you feel when you cook it yourself, or come up with your own variation that suits your personal taste? There's just more to it than his blinders will allow him to accept. So go for it, Foodista! I see a Bobby Flay Throwdown Upset coming Kimball's way!

Sheri Wetherell's picture

I agree, Siiri. I think this is a fun challenge and even more fun discussion! Frankly, we're all winners. It's not black and white. In the food space there's plenty of room for everyone: professional chefs, test kitchen gurus, the novice home cook to the advanced home cook, food bloggers, etc. What kind of garden would it be if we only had red roses? Boring. I want my "garden" filled with lots of variety and color! And discussions like this do exactly that.
Happy cooking!
Sheri @ Foodista