When ICE President Rick Smilow and Anne E. McBride wrote Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food they discovered a plethora of food jobs they had never heard of before. Since the book’s release, they have been discovering even more interesting career paths in the food world. DICED shares some of them with you in a reoccurring feature, “Unique Culinary Careers.”
ICE alum Kristen Miglore is the Editor of food52, a unique food website dedicated to building a network and community of cooks. Users submit recipes to weekly contests, help each other solve food pickles and test each other’s recipes. In this spirit of support, the site has quickly become a hot spot for foodies to discuss and develop recipes and techniques. In fact, ICE Chef Instructor James Briscione’s recipe for Classic Southern Buttermilk Bathed Fried Chicken will be included in the first edition of the food52 cookbook, designed, edited and written by food52’s community. We talked to Kristen about how she transitioned from economic analysis to food, her externship experience and working in the new world of online media.
How would you describe your position?
I’m the Editor of food52.com, which really means I do anything that’s needed to help keep the site up and running — write, edit, test recipes, help organize the weekly photo and video shoots, maintain our social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and our weekly e-newsletter, and manage the community, which is so warm and well-mannered compared to other corners of the internet that it’s actually pretty good at managing itself.
What has your career path been like?
After graduating from college (with an economics major and professional writing/editing minor), I tried be prudent and found well-paying work in economic analysis. Not surprisingly, three years of data wrangling left me all the more certain that I had to find a way to work in food. I moved from California to New York and found myself at ICE. I did internships with a food writer launching a new business, at a trade magazine, at a flossy lifestyle TV show and in the test kitchen and editorial wings of a high-end food magazine. I wouldn’t be able to do my job well now without all of this humbling and eye-opening work behind me.
What is a typical day like?
One of the best things about working in a small, fast-paced company is that the typical day is always changing. We have photo and video shoots that break up the week, and all the while we’re posting new content on the site several times a day. I’ve hauled four pork shoulders in various states of doneness from my apartment in the East Village to Brooklyn Heights for a photo shoot, then later seen the same juicy pork all over the internet. I’ve seen my tweets re-tweeted by my culinary heroes. On the weekends, the pace shifts and I test a handful of recipes at home in my comically tiny kitchen. I get to eat a lot of high-quality leftovers, though sometimes it’s five different types of burgers or vats of minestrone soup and I have to find people to foist them on. It’s a ton of work, and well outside the hours of 9 to 5, but I’d say it’s unique in a very good way.
What is your favorite part of the job?
Getting to work with Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs Dorman and the other amazing people who fuel food52 (photographers, writers, recipe testers, tech developers, interns). Amanda and Merrill love food, with good humor and zero pretension, which comes through both in the tone of food52 and in our workplace. I’ve become so much more confident as a cook and writer and learned so much because of their refreshing attitude.
How did ICE help prepare you for your position?
In recipe testing, writing and editing, I constantly find myself reaching back to the technique and food vocabulary I learned at ICE. Without my pastry hours with Chef Michelle, I would have been lost during the macaron and pie weeks at food52. And all those potatoes we carted home and brought back in perfect medium dice for Chef Ted were totally worth it. My knife skills are still pretty camera-friendly.
Interested in starting your own unique culinary career? Pick up a copy of Culinary Careers and get started now.