Kay, one of my recipe teseters

A shout out to my recipe testers

I’m taking a couple/few weeks off from working on the cookbook to work on assignments from Bon Appétit (recipes using whole grains, for their March 2010 issue) and Clean Eating (4 entrees and 4 sides that can be mixed and matched to work in any combination, for their March-April 2010 issue). Today I was up to my eyeballs in recipe edits and yield tests for spelt and farro and cracked wheat, oh my, and what should arrive in my inbox but an email from one of my recipe testers for my book, with photos of her in the kitchen, having a ball, making my recipes, and I just had to stop and smile at the fact that anyone, let alone these 14 people, would volunteer to help me with my work, and think it’d be fun to try my recipes and evaluate them with various wines, totally at their own expense, AND have a good enough time doing it to take happy pictures and send them to me.

I mean, can you imagine if someone volunteered to come help you with your job, just because they thought it’d be fun? And to actually have so much fun at it that they take happy pictures? Isn’t that just the best?

And could Kay here be any more adorable?

In case you don’t know or understand what I’m talking about, when you write a cookbook, there comes a time when someone says to you, maybe your agent or your editor or just a little voice in your head, it says, um, you are having these recipes tested, right? When that happened with my first book, so far, I’d been avoiding the issue.

One reason is because I have a friend, Linda Carucci, who wrote a great book called Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks and who’s now Chef Director at The International Culinary Schools at the Art Institute of California, San Francisco, who went through the ordeal of making sure every recipe in her book was triple-tested. Which is awesome. But I remember her going through the coordination of sending recipes across the country and keeping it all straight and organized and corralling recipe testers sounding a lot like herding cats and I wanted absolutely none of that!

But the other, even bigger reason I’d been avoiding recipe testing is this – I just couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to volunteer to help me with my work.

Finally, though, my editor at Wiley uttered that sentence – um, you are having these recipes tested, right? – and so, knowing that if my book was going to have even a shred of integrity, the recipes had to be tested, I made a few shy requests.

Without much effort at all, a handful of friends, and their friends, said yes! Imagine! And so for this second book, the one I’m working on now, I was bolder. And a big ol’ handful of friends, and their friends, have said yes. And so right now, at this very moment, there are 14 people out there working on making and evaluating my recipes – just because they’re awesomely generous people.

How cool is that?

So here’s to recipe testers everywhere, but especially to mine, which of course are the best anywhere. Without them, their efforts and their input, neither book would be nearly as good. But mostly, without them, working on these books would be a lonely and solitary endeavor. Knowing they are there, behind me, like silent cheerleaders, is a huge, huge contribution.

Here’s to you, my recipe testers! I so very much appreciate, and am honored by, your partnership, your participation, and your generosity! Thank you!

And if you’re inspired, like Kay, to send photos, I’ll post them.

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