The behind the scenes work that makes cookbooks great

When you crack open a freshly purchased cookbook, it can be like opening a window into another world. Everything you need is laid out before you, and you can just follow along on a journey of discovery. If the book is well written, this journey will be pleasant and satisfying. Writing a book that achieves that goal is tricky, and it involves a lot of assistance in writing, editing, photography, and most importantly, recipe testing. Cookbook authors rely on recipe testers to make sure the recipes work in home kitchens. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to test recipes for a book, three well known authors – Anna Jones, Meera Sodha, and Yotam Ottolenghi – have shared the stories of how their recipe testers provide an invaluable service

recipe testing

It seems that authors like to find one tester and stick with her or him. All of the testers in this article have worked with the authors for years. It takes time to build the relationship between author and recipe tester, which needs to be strong to stand up to revision after revision of a dish. The cookbook authors need to be able to trust that the tester is providing accurate feedback, and the people who do the testing must be willing to tell the unvarnished truth about whether the recipe works or not. 

Although you might think that the pairs work side-by-side in developing new dishes, these testers work remotely. While not being face to face presents some challenges, it can also provide valuable information such as how widely available certain ingredients are. Technology helps with remote working, as real-time images can be shared to work through troublesome issues. 

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  • Rinshin  on  January 22, 2019

    I wish UK based writers and their testers would provide subs for their fresh chile peppers. I suppose this is true for US based writers and testers. I find chilies used very confusing.

  • Indio32  on  January 22, 2019

    Subs?….. Substitutions?

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