‘Embracing the imperfections’: The test kitchen is now a WFH kitchen

Food publishing requires a very visual level of content,
including recipe videos and photography, but with production and
editorial staffers working remotely, publishers are trying to
figure out how to continue producing this content from their homes
or are adjusting their editorial schedules completely. 

Tastemade, which publishes a range of video content from
“hands in pans,” quick-form recipe videos to multiple season
series, started investing in external hard drives and sent its
employees home with camera equipment. Meredith’s food titles
turned its staff’s home kitchens into studios. And The New York
Times Cooking has put an emphasis on reporting on the impact of
coronavirus instead of recipes.

“We’re getting aggressive with testing for remote teams,”
said Amanda Dameron, head of content at Tastemade.

Five weeks ago, Dameron said Tastemade began preparing for the
shift to remote working, including sending some of its staff home
with cameras, tripod rigs and lighting equipment. The goal
initially was to continue creating hands-in-pans recipes videos,
which she said are the easiest to execute remotely. This week, she
said the focus is figuring out how to get its tiny kitchen cooking
sets in order to produce that series from home as well.

For post production, she said the company invested in more hard
drives and a courier service to share them among team
members. 

While the larger series and documentaries had to pause that
production temporarily, that programming tends to be produced one
to six months out from when it will be published, giving the brand
some lead time. 

One of its series, Struggle Meals, which has 22-minute long
episodes about cooking meals for less than $2 per plate, however,
is continuing production in a new format because of its recent
surge in popularity. On its Facebook page, Struggle Meals received
a 434% increase in total views from March 1 to March 23 compared to
the previous 23 day period. To not miss out on that audience, the
show’s host, chef Frankie Celenza, started live streaming daily
episodes on Instagram from his kitchen in Idaho. 

In the past two weeks, Dameron said that Tastemade’s
viewership on its social channels was up more than 25% and its
streaming network had a 40% increase in viewership on certain
platforms. Site referrals from search were up 30% month-to-date in
March versus the same period last year, and Pinterest was up 33%
during the same period, according to Google Analytics. In February,
Tastemade had over 300 million video views across Facebook,
Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, according to Tubular Labs and had
over 6 million unique visitors to its site, according to
ComScore.

Meredith has also seen an increase in its food site traffic. All
Recipes, in particular, which has 43 million unique visitors in
February, has experienced a 40% increase of sessions on
AllRecipes.com week over week. 

One of Allrecipes’ shows, “Food Wishes,” is hosted by chef
John Mitzewich and produced right in his kitchen where he cooks two
to three featured recipes from Allrecipes.com. Since his show was
well equipped for remote working already, Williams said he was able
to easily transition and continue producing that program. 

For many of the other shows that are produced in Meredith’s
studios, Williams said that those teams typically shoot videos
months ahead of when they will be published, so the bulk of the
focus right now is on editing. 

In the meantime, to make sure there isn’t a gap of content a
few months down the road, she said the team is currently figuring
out how to prioritize filming shows and recipes in their individual
home kitchens, which may include shipping the camera equipment to
staffers since most of the content can be created on DSLR
cameras. 

“We’re embracing the imperfections of home cooking,” said
Andrew Snyder, svp and head of video, and encouraging the editorial
staff to share their cooking process on social media if they are
already making meals for their families.

The New York Times Cooking’s production schedule has been
“completely upended” and new recipe creation has slowed due to
the remote working conditions, according to Sam Sifton, assistant
managing editor.

Previously, the site typically published between a dozen to 20
recipes per week. He said his team still has content that it will
be publishing over the next several weeks, but it likely won’t be
in the quantity it’s previously been published in. Additionally,
with slowed production, the publisher isn’t working with its
network of a couple dozen freelance photographers and recipe
developers at the moment.

Despite that, this past weekend, the site’s traffic was up 60%
over the previous weekend, which, itself, was the biggest weekend
for the site in terms of traffic so far this year, according to
Sifton. 

As for producing this content at home, Sifton said, “if they
can come up with a new recipe and we can figure out how to get it
tested and shot, great,” however much of the editorial
assignments have shifted towards reporting. The food critics and
recipe columnists have even begun contributing coverage of how the
coronavirus has impacted the restaurant industry.

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‘Embracing the imperfections’: The test kitchen is now a WFH
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Source: FS – _Marketing
‘Embracing the imperfections’: The test kitchen is now a WFH kitchen