One of the joys of her work week, maybe the main joy, is her column, “Big Little Recipes,” in which Emma Laperruque ’14 presents a recipe she’s created for its deliciousness and its relative few ingredients.
Laperruque is a writer and recipe developer for Food52, a popular food and recipe website built around a community of readers who engage with one another and with staff members, Laperruque included. She’s vigilant about answering reader questions and heeding their comments. Food52 turns to readers for ideas for recipes and the products it sells in its store.
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The column, which last year won an award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, gives Laperruque latitude to explore. Take her three-ingredient oatmeal cookies, made of oats, brown sugar, and tahini. Yes, tahini. “That was really fun. I tried a few different combinations of three ingredients. I know I wanted something fatty, something sweet, and then the oats, because three ingredient oatmeal cookies are a very popular search term. But I didn’t want to use the same three ingredients; we wanted to flip that on its head,” Laperruque says. Readers gave it four of five stars.
In high school Laperruque loved writing and cooking but figured she’d have to choose one or the other for a career. That meant either culinary school or college, the more expected path, and she took it. “Then, when I got into college, my first year I started reading a lot of food blogs as sort of a study break, and that’s when it clicked for me that I could write about food,” she recalls. From then on, that was her sole career goal.
At Hamilton she started a food blog, Dourmet, as in dorm gourmet, and received a coveted Senior Fellowship that allowed her to pursue a project for a full academic year instead of taking traditional courses. An interdisciplinary studies major, she produced a sort of cookbook novel; when read cover to cover, the recipe headnotes compose a novel.
For her culinary education, Laperruque had a student internship at an Italian restaurant and after graduation worked for several years in a kitchen and a bakery, all the while freelancing food articles. She landed the job at Food52 two years ago in January. To Laperruque, home cooking is the best cooking.
“Our site celebrates all home cooks, and that’s one of the reasons Food52 was my top pick,” she says. “Because a lot of food publications focus on chefs and the way they look at food, and that’s not me. Restaurant cooking is so different. I think cooking that people do every day is what’s exciting and achievable and often the most delicious.”