At any given moment at America’s Test Kitchen, recipes are being developed for our television shows, magazines, websites and cookbooks. But, with all of these repeated tests, where does all the leftover food go?
While it may sound surprising, most of that food gets eaten up. Unlike a restaurant kitchen, most of the recipes made at America’s Test Kitchen serve only 4 to 6 people. Test cooks and editors will sample a recipe to provide feedback, and eventually a recipe will reach testing stage where everyone who works at the Test Kitchen is invited to try a sample and fill out surveys. But when there are leftovers, they don’t stay uneaten for long. I chatted with Assistant Kitchen Director Gina Nistico to find out about the fate of leftover foods.
1. The Take-Home Fridge
Prepared and perishable foods get boxed up into individual portions and placed in the “Take-Home Fridge.” There, hungry staffers can often find the answer to the question “What’s for dinner?” Depending on what testings are being done, the contents of the fridge can range from lots and lots of chili during a slow cooker testing, to carrot cake. Perishable ingredients like extra produce or uncooked meat also go into the fridge. Test Kitchen staff also know the best time to check the fridge is around 4 p.m., and news of a good take-home fridge find – like beignets or dacquoise – will spread quickly through the office.
2. Our Lucky Neighbors
Working near the Test Kitchen has its benefits. While our neighbors may occasionally be tormented by smells of barbeque during the winter (because of our 6-month publishing schedule, that’s when we develop our summer recipes), they are also occasionally rewarded when Gina Nistico drops by with some leftover cookies. Gina even admits to having taken leftovers to her spin class, where baked goods are often received with mixed emotions.
3. Local Charities
Unopened non-perishable food may not have an impending expiration date, but even extra dry goods can’t stay around the Test Kitchen for long– there simply isn’t the storage space. So Gina has set up a system that donates dry goods and non-perishables to a variety of Boston-Area charities and soup kitchens. One partnership Gina is particularly proud of is with Haley House, a Boston-area nonprofit that runs a soup kitchen and provides comprehensive social services to people in need. Gina also oversees donations of kitchen equipment like grills and ovens to Haley House, as well as another local nonprofit, Future Chefs.
4. Hungry Hungry Camera Crew
For the collective six weeks of filming for Cook’s Country and America’s Test Kitchen TV each season, a season’s worth of meals are made in just a few weeks. However, the food doesn’t stay around long– the crew is waiting in the wings to make sure no one has to worry about leftovers. In this behind-the-scenes clip, audio engineer Gilles Morin explains his tactics for making sure he doesn’t miss out once a recipe is done being shot.
What are your tricks to using up leftovers? Let us know in the comments for a chance to win a copy of Light and Healthy 2012. The winner will be notified by email on Tuesday, Aug. 28.