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Your favorite chef’s intimate take on cooking, straight in your mailbox. A brainchild of Bryce Longton, a travel journalist-turned entrepreneur and Food52 stylist, Kitchen Letters started with the simple idea of connecting foodies with chefs around the country. Through the service, every month home cooks can receive the tips and recipes of fascinating chefs from all across the US, straight at their doorstep. We caught up with Bryce to learn more about her endeavor and also to find out what’s the best thing about sharing (or receiving) recipes with strangers.
How did you come up with the idea for the Kitchen Letters?
I’m obsessed with food. I travel with extensive lists of where to eat and what to order [sometimes in spreadsheet form], and I used to interview chefs for a living [it was a great gig while it lasted]. But I always felt that great chefs needed a megaphone for their stories. I also felt that people like you and me could benefit from their kitchen stories, personal recipes, and secret cooking tips. So I created Kitchen Letters. It’s a personal way for people who love food to connect with the chefs they follow. Why a real letter? The kitchen is personal, warm, tactile place. I thought a letter from a chef should be too.
What is the best thing about sharing (or receiving) recipes?
Great question. Sharing a recipe is like sharing a part of your home with someone else. You get a peek inside someone else's kitchen and into what they'd serve on their table. It's a view of an important aspect of someone's day. By receiving a recipe, someone is inviting you to participate in something they love and think tastes great. All around, it's a cool thing!
What is the most common type of letters/parcels that end up in you own letterbox?
I receive a lot of letters from my friends -- we're a little old fashioned that way, as well as from my parents. I also get a lot of product samples in the mail, for use in photography or in the shop, as well as several magazines -- what can I say, I love mail.
What do you eat for dinner when you are in lack of inspiration?
My go-to "what do I eat?" meal is always tapas style. Some salami, some cheese (I love almost every single kind), some fruit (again, love fruit too) and perhaps some bread, olive oil + salt, and I'm a happy camper. Top it off with some bubbly and it is a great meal.
How would you like the Kitchen Letters (and Ktchn13 in general) to evolve?
The letters are growing -- both in numbers and in the number of chefs participating. I'd love to see some really great personal stories from chefs get shared, and I am also working on a KTCHN13 Kit for spring 2014, which will focus on tips, tricks and techniques on how to throw great dinner parties and create the meals you've always wanted to create. You'll be able to finally roll out pie dough, make poached eggs and bake some bread (as well as set a killer table).
What is the most inspiring recipe that you have posted/published so far?
I'd say I loved the story from Phoebe Lapine (http://feedmephoebe.com). Her story about stumbling across an amazing tapas place in Spain smacks of adventure and being a true foodie, both things I think are great.
What is the best comment that you've ever received from the readers/subscribers of your yummy endeavour?
Ah! Well, this is from one of our chefs writing a note for 2014: "I just went to a friend's house, and she had Merrill's letter (the letter from 11/15/13) on her counter top! She said her sister-in-law had gifted her the kitchen letters and that she adores them and has saved every single one."
And from the people who write the recipes?
"Thanks again for letting me do it. It was super fun!" Taylor Cocalis Suarez of Good Food Jobs (goodfoodjobs.com)
What was your favorite food as a child? Ramen. And cajeta (which is a caramel made out of goat's milk)
And as an adult?
Lobster rolls and champagne. Yum!