"No matter how perfectly the recipes are written, no matter how accurate you are with all the measurements – it's a different person, in a different place, using different ingredients so that they end up with something slightly different. And I used to think that that was a problem, that that was something I was trying to account for and correct in the testing and in the recipe writing. But I actually now see it as a really beautiful thing ." Maria Zizka, recipe tester & developer
Today's episode is the first in our four-part series Behind the Spine where we're stepping away from a focus on authors to hear from some of the other talented folks who help create the cookbooks that we all love. Our series will start where most cookbooks begin with the recipes and the people who perfect them. Our guests today are two incredible recipe testers and developers: Maria Zizka, a Bay-Area local, and Lidey Heuck
Maria Ziska is the author of three solo cookbooks and the co-author of numerous award-winning cookbooks like Ottolenghi's Flavor and Tartine: A Classic Revisited. You'll hear from Maria and what it's like to adapt a restaurant's complex recipes to the home kitchen and where she got her start testing recipes –with a letter to chef Suzanne Goin.
Lidey Heuck also started working as a recipe tester by writing a letter. Just out of college she started as Ina Garten's assistant and confidant. At first, she just managed her social media, but the role quickly grew, and together with Ina Lidey tested and helped develop all of the Barefoot Contessa's recipes. Lidey talked to us about her work with Ina Garten, of course, but she also shares with us about her own process as a cook and a recipe writer for the New York Times and for her blog lideylikes.com. She's currently writing her debut cookbook. Lidey and Maria will get into the nitty-gritty details of recipe writing how to know when a recipe is finished and finally they'll give us some tips on finding the best recipes out there.