Amanda Hesser is the author of The Essential New York Times Cookbook and the co-founder of Food52, a website about home cooking.
Hesser previously served as a columnist for The New York Times and as the food editor at The New York Times Magazine. She has written a number of books and memoirs, and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their twins.
We recently caught up with Hesser to hear the latest on her adventures and get her recommendations for the best places and things in the cooking world. Check out the interview below.
Among your other accolades, you’ve worked in bakeries and restaurants in Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France… Sounds like a fairy tale. How did that happen?
I networked and set up the jobs while I was in college and then got a scholarship from Les Dames d’Escoffier to go and work at these places around Europe. I learned a bunch about cooking and baking, obviously, but more importantly, I figured out how to be resourceful and make it on my own in countries where I didn’t speak the language.
When it comes to cooking tools, I hear you prefer bone-handled forks. Any particular model you’d recommend?
They aren’t really made anymore. The ones I have are from antiques shops and are generally 19th or 18th century, so the tines are made of carbon steel and the handles are bone. I like them because the tines are thin and sharp and the forks are small but sturdy. People always gravitate toward long handled and bulky utensils, but what you really want is something that you can move agilely with.
Is there one store you frequent for all your cooking needs?
Not just one. I like to shop at lots of places! Over the years I’ve bought many things at Dehillerin in Paris.
Dehillerin is an old cookware shop on the Right Bank that sells to both chefs and home cooks. There’s nothing nice about it — imagine a hardware store for cookware, but you are helped by men in lab coats, and you’re surrounded by stacks of copper pots, ladles in every size, and lots of beautiful and obscure tools. It’s a cook’s playground.
What’s your favorite restaurant? You know, the one you could live on forever.
Blue Hill is a restaurant I’ve gone to for many, many years, and it always makes me happy.
Dan Barber, the chef, is a friend of mine. I’ve known him since he was just starting out and it’s been a delight to watch his career evolve. Every visit to Blue Hill reminds me of his story. Also, Dan catered our wedding and my sister-in-law’s wedding and both were unforgettable meals.
When you need a break from all of the madness that is New York, where do you go?
I like the madness. That’s why I live here.
Do you think social media is changing the way people choose and review restaurants?
It simply amplifies the social aspect of making dining decisions. People have always relied on their friends’ recommendations when it comes to restaurants, but now you can much more quickly and fluidly gather up a bunch of friends’ opinions.
Lastly, what’s the latest food trend you’ve picked up on?
Other than gluten-free everything? Cold brew coffee — seems poised to go mainstream.