Guest Post by Kristine Kidd
A 20-year veteran of the magazine, Kidd is now self-employed and the author of several cookbooks, most recently Weeknight Gluten Free. Here are 14 insider tips. — DJ
At Bon Appetit, we tested hundreds of recipes every month. The ones we published were the ones that worked best in the test kitchen.
We rarely gave a new writer another chance if the recipes did not test well or if we had too much trouble with them. Editorial schedules are jammed and there are many talented recipe developers who would love to be published in the magazine.
If you want your recipes published in a big magazine with a test kitchen, here are my tips for success:
1. Write the recipe immediately after testing so that you are certain to remember all the fine points. As you write the procedure there are bound to be nuances you want to include that you won’t recall after testing several other recipes.
2. Think about a specific friend who represents the people who will use your recipe, perhaps someone who enjoys cooking but isn’t a pro. Provide all the information that person will need to have success with the recipe.
3. Make it easy for the test kitchen and readers. Shop for the ingredients by using recognizable names and correct can or package sizes. For obscure ingredients, offer information about the ingredient, how to find it, and substitutes whenever possible. Online resources are fine. We frequently ordered ingredients from the Internet at Bon Appetit.
4. Use a scale and standard measuring tools when cooking, and list amounts accurately.
5. Describe exactly how you cut the ingredients, both size and shape.
6. List the ingredients in the order they are called for in the directions. This is true even if doing so puts the most important ingredient near the bottom. It is frustrating to have to search the ingredient list for each item.
7. Specify both time and visual clues for each step because equipment and ingredients are rarely consistent. Include the size and weight of pans and the temperature settings you used. Variation in equipment and ingredients will influence the time it takes to cook, so the visual clue gives a roadmap. Without it, some readers will take your directions literally, such as pulling raw eggs off the heat after 2 minutes if your recipe says they will be done after 2 minutes.
The word “about” is invaluable when giving times.Use a timer when testing, and record the times accurately.
8. Divide the recipe into components if that makes it easier to follow or understand. It can be daunting to see a long list of ingredients and a big block of text describing the steps. Smaller elements are friendlier and less intimidating.
10. Write close to the publication’s style to make it easier for the recipe testers and editors. But don’t worry about copying the style exactly. Most publications have editors who will refine the final wording.
11. Include notes to the test kitchen. Explain anything extra that will make it easier for them to test or present your recipe. Offer serving suggestions.
12. Make notes on your recipe as you cook, and save those notes. A publication might have questions months later.
13. Many publications will not show you the edited recipes before publication. This is another incentive to write your recipes accurately.
Above all, keep in mind that your goal is to make it easy for testers and readers to have a great experience, and offer everything they will need to know.
Got a question for Kristine Kidd? She will answer below. — DJ
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