Food52 was launched in 2009 by former New York Times Magazine food editor Amanda Hesser and food writer Merrill Stubbs, and has since taken off, spawning multiple cookbooks, garnering celebrity fans like Gwyneth Paltrow and Stanley Tucci, and winning the James Beard
With its cozy design and emphasis on user interactivity — site members can participate in recipe contests, ask food questions, and peruse various cooking columns — Food52 fosters a sense of community and feels intimate, like an online farmer’s market of sorts.
With Provisions, the company expands into e-commerce. Food52 users will be able to find kitchen goods and products that complement the recipes and tips on the site, from unusual fruits and spices to one-of-a-kind vintage cookware and exclusive offerings.
We spoke with Amanda Hesser about her vision for Provisions and how the marketplace will change how people think about food websites.
BUSINESS INSIDER: How will Provisions differentiate Food52 from competitor recipe sites?
AMANDA HESSER: Our goal is not to compete with other recipe sites, but to create an entirely new model: a comprehensive food site that gives you everything you need to become a better, smarter, happier cook.
BI: How do you see Provisions enhancing the user experience? Do you see it as a separate marketplace or as one that’s deeply integrated into existing website?
AH: Initially, Provisions product pages will feature several links to related recipes and other content on Food52, and we’ll use text links within articles on Food52 to link back to relevant Provisions products. The next step will be to have related products show up on recipe pages, which we will be working on this fall. Food52 and Provisions will be knitted together so that each complements the other — related content will contextualize products and make them more useful, and relevant products will enhance the experience of making and serving a dish, or of mastering a technique.
BI: Your Pinterest scouts have played an important role in finding unique products for Provisions to sell (they pin goods based on collection themes and create inspiration boards and a product pipeline). How else do you find those uncommon products, especially your exclusives and one-of-a-kinds?
AH: We get a fair number of inbound requests, and many of the vendors we’ve worked with in the past are eager to do exclusives or product launches with us. We try to make it a great experience for them, and they know that getting in front of our audience is excellent exposure.
BI: One of the best things about Provisions is that food lovers can get their recipes, goods, and products all on one site. Although that convenience is a great selling point, ultimately why do you feel people will want to get their goods and products from Provisions instead of somewhere like Amazon?
AH: The majority of the products we sell aren’t available on Amazon. With an ever-growing sea of choices, people are looking for guidance and inspiration, and that’s our strong suit. Rather than presenting an endless scroll of products with little to no filtering, Provisions offers a more limited range of only the best goods.
BI: What is your ultimate vision for the integration of Provisions? What would you like to see happen in these first few months?
AH: We want Provisions to be the kitchen and home shop that people turn to when they’re looking for the best tools for their own kitchen, for a great wedding gift, or that one-of-a-kind serving platter they can use for dinner parties for years to come.
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