Welcome to the Test Kitchen
Drop by Food Network's test kitchen in New York City and you might think you've stepped onto the set of Chopped. While the chaos is more controlled — and the ingredients are way less bizarre — the hustle and bustle looks a lot like what you see on TV. Chefs dodge each other on their way to the pantry, blenders whir nonstop, and every so often, someone shouts, "Hot! Watch out!" The staffers here aren't cooking for a $10,000 prize, but the stakes are still pretty high: They have to come up with recipes that our readers are inspired to make at home — and that they'll love enough to make again.
Five full-time chefs and a handful of freelancers and interns, overseen by Food Network's culinary senior vice president, Katherine Alford, are the ones who make it happen. Most of the staff worked in restaurants before joining the test kitchen — experience that surprisingly doesn't always come in handy: "In a restaurant, you make everything in big batches, often using complicated techniques," says recipe developer Stephen Jackson (pictured above, far right). "Here, we try to keep things manageable because our focus is on dinner for four."
Each recipe in the magazine (more than 100 every month) goes through multiple rounds of testing. And the team will remake a dish 10 times if necessary. It's a lot of work, but this is the only way they can make sure that everyone — regardless of cooking skill — will be able to succeed with each recipe.
Photograph by Mark Peterson