Hey There, It’s Amanda Newsletter by Food52’s Amanda Hesser: May 12, 2023
A few months ago, I let you know that we were looking for our first Community Editor, and today I’m thrilled to introduce you to Nicole Davis, who started this week!
Nicole has been an editor at The New York Times and Departures, and is a longtime community leader—she co-founded Brooklyn Based, which began as a newsletter in 2007 and grew into a thriving organization that hosted sold-out events from wedding fairs and food crawls to cocktail clubs and tasting events featuring local restaurants. They even did kitchen swaps, where people exchanged cookware with each other. Nicole once received a peculiar device that looked like a skyscraper mashed up with a guillotine—designed for halving cherry tomatoes. Just what every kitchen needs!
“It widens your community when you have events. It was an integral part of Brooklyn Based that I really enjoyed,” Nicole told me recently. “I’m hoping to bring that joy to the Food52 community.”
A longtime Food52er herself, Nicole said, “What I really appreciate about the Food52 community is how very fun and often very funny the community is. There are so many LOL comments on the posts. Everyone is having a really good time.” Watching Residents like Dan Pelosi and Erin McDowell, “You want to invite them over,” she added. “And the fact that bloopers are included in videos feels very transparent. There’s no glossing over things. That warmth and humor and authenticity pervade the Food52 community.”
Community serves deeper needs too, but “it’s easy to lose the sense of a human touch online,” said Nicole. “Publishing a newsletter taught me that being responsive is key. When someone wrote with a question or a complaint, I know it caught many off guard to hear back from us with genuine concern. I love to break through that remote quality of being online, and make a real connection with someone.”
The power of community became very real for Nicole recently. Between the time she applied for this role and her start date this week, she was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer and had a mastectomy. We are all relieved for her that she is recovering and doing well.
When her friends learned of her diagnosis, they wanted to do a meal train. Nicole decided to be very detailed about what her family would and would not eat, because she has a picky eater in the house and didn’t want another stressor in the mix by receiving food that not everyone would eat. “My friends delivered those specific meals and it was such a huge, huge help. That was when I realized that I needed my community to get through this.”
When you have something happen like a health crisis and you turn to your community, “It makes you appreciate how kind people are, and how much they’re willing to help you in your time of need,” she said. “It’s very inspiring actually.”
“Community is meant to enrich your life—you have to be open to giving to it and taking from it. It’s this two-way street and you really have to make sure you’re encouraging both sides of that interaction. It should expose you to new ideas, new ways of doing things. So that you come away appreciating what you’ve gained.”
Nicole has lots of ideas for our community—and I’ll let her tell you about them in upcoming posts of her own. In the meantime, please reach out to her at [email protected]—say hello, and please share any ideas you’d like her to know about.
3 Food52 Tips from Nicole:
- I normally parboil potatoes and then stick them in the oven to get them crispy all around, but when I have the time to be more attentive, The Best Pan-Roasted Potatoes by Gretchen @ Backyardnotes is an even better path to soft-on-the-inside, crunchy-on-the-outside roasted potatoes.
- Also, I’m dying to try this Grilled Peanut Tofu recipe by Enbe. I am cutting down on red meat and going more plant-based, and I’m intrigued by the thought of a spicy peanut sauce versus a sweet one, which I’m not a big fan of.
- I am currently coveting the Costa Nova dinnerware: I love their jewel-toned colors and organic shapes, appreciate the sustainable use of recycled clay, and desperately want to show them off on my semi-new open shelving.
Another Community Update:
For more than a year, we’ve been working with the Food52 community to develop a set of Five Two Kitchen Utensils. You gave us loads of feedback along the way, and the result? A set that’s tailored to what all of you told us you wanted most: a steel spatula with some flex, a slender rubber spatula for getting into jars, and a short and long whisk, both with sturdy wires. I personally love the long whisk because the handle is three-sided, so it sits comfortably and securely in your grip as you whisk.
We also just released a new-and-improved set of our Five Two Wooden Spoons, with larger perforations on the slotted spoon and sturdier spoon bowls—all carved from rich, dark, snazzy walnut.
An Italian Feast for the New Jersey Bird Community:
ICYMI: Last week, about 500 pounds of discarded pasta were discovered in the woods near Old Bridge, New Jersey. While local authorities were investigating the incident, the internet lit up with pasta puns. One Reddit member commented, “We should send the perpetrators to the state penne tentiary.” My own two cents: The pasta appeared cooked, but it had been dumped raw, which may provide cause to further test theories from Harold McGee and J. Kenji López-Alt about how much heat and moisture are actually required to “cook” pasta.
Thank you all for being part of the Food52 community—have a great week!