The first time I walked into the Gilt Taste office I was hit by a wave of happy energy. It was a tiny group then—just four people—but they were so excited by this new project that I was swept away by their passion. They wanted to do the wildest things—and they thought everything was possible. It reminded me of cooking in California in the early seventies, a time when young chefs were reinventing the very idea of American food, enlisting farmers and fishermen so that they could use local produce and cook with the seasons. I felt exactly the same way as I did back then: I want to be part of this.
Gilt Taste is a radical venture. On one hand it's a showcase for the artisanal products that talented bakers, butchers, candy and cheese-makers are now crafting all over the country. It's a place to meet a new generation of farmers, the men and women who are tilling the land in sustainable ways, saving seeds and raising happy animals. It is a celebration of food, mostly American.
But if this was just a catalogue of products—no matter how wonderful—I wouldn't want to be involved. What makes Gilt Taste unique is that it's a new kind of magazine, one that has no ads and is supported solely by sales. We don't just want to sell you great products—we want to tell you the stories of the people who create them and inspire you with delicious new ways to use them.
The hardest part of that is finding recipes that really work. That's why I'm so thrilled that Melissa Clark has joined us. She's my kind of cook—innovative, curious, and completely reliable. Melissa will be creating many of Gilt Taste's recipes, and if they're all like the ones she's come up with this week, it will be quite a ride. When I saw her fascinating new way to cook asparagus (curing it in salt and sugar), I couldn't help myself; I had to stop everything and run right into the kitchen.
A great epicurean magazine offers both food, and food for thought. We'll be trying to stimulate you with gorgeous photographs and keep you informed on everything that’s going on in the world of food. Features Editor Francis Lam has rounded up a wonderful roster of writers who will contribute everything from personal essays to environmental news. This week Hank Shaw, who knows better than anyone where the wild things are, takes us along on a foraging expedition. Lila Byock bemoans the hard life of a chocolate-hater (I dare you to read this without laughing out loud), and in the first of an ongoing series, Eat Shoots and Leaves, Amanda Cohen does creative, delicious things with what was once considered compost. Meanwhile, the always remarkable Barry Estabrook exposes a frightening new menace to our national food supply.
Food people are always hungry for new experiences, open to new tastes, and constantly looking for more seductive ways to feed their friends. That’s what I love about them. But here at Gilt I’ve met a whole new group of wonderful people, brilliant engineers who are pushing the technical envelope. They’re magicians who can make photographs move (check out those tomatoes), and recipes talk (coming soon). More importantly, they’re figuring out new ways to create a Gilt Taste community that we want you to be part of. Every great meal needs to be shared, so please let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I first began writing about food, I could never have imagined this. Back then we still thought you had to be European to make great cheese or chocolate or salami. Had you told me then that chefs were about to become celebrities, I would have called you crazy. In those days I would leaf through magazines, fantasizing about cooking all those fabulous feasts. Had you told me that one day I’d not only be watching those pictures dance across my desk, but that I’d be able to gather the ingredients with the click of a finger, I would have said it was an impossible dream. Now that dream has come true—and it’s only the beginning. Welcome to Gilt Taste.