What food obsessed person doesn’t love when the latest edition of Bon Appétit or Food and Wine arrives in the mail? When I was working as a news reporter, reading food magazines was my favorite pasttime – what I looked forward to on the weekends. So I can’t say I wasn’t completely stoked when I found out I was going to be a guest cook for a day in the Bon Appétit test kitchen in New York City.
Walking into the Condé Nast building was perhaps the most surreal part of it all. It was all very big city, high fashion (well-dressed men who work at GQ) and basically cool knowing high-powered editors were breezing through the elevator turnstiles next to me. Silly, but my visitor pass from that day is destined for a scrapbook if I ever get around to it. Too bad it’s dated…
While I was prepared for precision to be the name of the game, I was not prepared for just exactly how extreme the test kitchen cooks get in their recipe testing. Or how nice everyone would be. Or, again, how many notes the testing of one simple recipe would require.
Ingredients are measured by volume, by length, by general size and by weight in every known unit of measurement. One of the recipes I prepped was to be cooked by the editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport the next day, so that was awesomeness (to quote my niece Anabelle). Hope it went well…
What is also wonderful about Bon Appétit is that everyone working in the test kitchen gets there own personal galley kitchen. No fighting for burners, no hunting for the right pot, no duking it out for a space to put your cutting board – you get your own spacious happy place. And mine of course had a window into Brad’s, just in case of an emergency.
Brad is a very fierce professional cook who is great company in the kitchen. And like me, finds sheer joy in a perfect array of prepared ingredients. He also makes a great pork stew (croutons courtesy yours truly).
While the attention to detail required in a test kitchen is even more extreme than that of a professional restaurant kitchen – what’s missing is the fast-paced-food slinging-wrist burning vibe of a restaurant line. And that I can say, was my favorite part of that day at Bon Appétit. Besides the peanut butter cookies a fellow Culinary Institute student on externship baked for everyone. Because that would never happen at a restaurant.