Way back in October, before the mad run-up to Thanksgiving began, we went to New York with Zach's parents and sister. It was a double birthday celebration of sorts, for Zach and his mom Brenda, who both have birthdays in October.
The rest was art, shopping, the High Line, and, well, more eating.
As the two of us were preparing for the trip, we thought it might be fun to do a test kitchen drop-in while we were in town. And since we had just been in touch with the staff at Bon Appétit because of the Cover to Cover Challenge, we asked them if we could come by. They said sure, so we did!
It was a Thursday afternoon at the end of October. Danielle, who works for BonAppetit.com, gave us the tour.
Our only point of reference for a test kitchen is when we visited the kitchens at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia a couple years ago. Martha HQ was like a little city-state, with each department of her company bordering another, in massive open-loft floors of housewares, pillows, outdoor furniture, and yes, magazines. It's like a warehouse. Or a temple.
Bon Appétit, on the other hand, feels much more like a traditional office. It's in the Condé Naste building in Midtown. All the magazines are there: Vogue (we saw Hamish Bowles in the lobby), GQ, Vanity Fair. Bon Appétit occupies one of the floors.
We got to see where the editorial team works (we saw editor Adam Rapoport meeting with some folks to talk about an upcoming layout). We hit the small photo studio, and we got to tour the actual test kitchens.
You'd get a kick out of seeing the test kitchens in person. The biggest surprise is how modest the facilities are. Rather than state-of-the-art appliances in gleaming, spacious rooms, the BA test kitchens look, well, a whole lot like our own small apartment kitchen. Granted, there are 6 identical kitchen bays, but each one is essentially a cramped little kitchen with fairly basic equipment. There isn't a lot of room to move -- everything is within arm's reach.
In fact, some of the kitchens are in slight disrepair. They happen to be the old Gourmet test kitchens (moment of silence, please). One oven door was hanging off its hinges. One of the employees there told us that since Condé Nast is relocating to the Freedom Tower, some things are just going to stay broken until the move.
No doubt the test kitchens in the new space will be a bit fancier. But our guide Danielle told us they actually made a point of keeping everything modest and on the same scale a home cook would have. We loved that!
We can't say what they were cooking that day (we weren't allowed to photograph food), but here are a few scenes from the test kitchen.
True, we did say that most of the equipment is stuff that most home cooks would have. But we bet most home cooks don't have dry ice sitting in their sink. We weren't sure what they were doing with this, but we loved watching it.
We even shot a little video of the dry ice:
So that's test kitchen visit No. 2. Now we've got to figure out who we're visiting next....