Culture Kitchen Behind the scenes: How we develop and test recipes

Have you ever watched an incredible cook prepare a dish you’ve never seen made before?

A dash of this, a handful of that, and a sprinkle of this–the ingredients all magically come together into the best thing you have ever eaten.

Now, try to recreate that at home.

I have done it, and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. Tofu goes flying, something turned orange instead of green, and my poor refrigerator is left with the remnants of the meal for days. We have been there and felt your pain. We know we need to capture all of our master cooks’ recipes with precision and make their recipes approachable to any cook. Check out how we do it in our five-step process below!

Party in the kitchen!

To start, we all step into the kitchen together.  We believe that cooking with the expert is key, as that is when we first measure all the ingredients and learn more about the tools that were used to make the meal. We document all the steps and, more importantly, the stories of our cooks. This is what we translate into palatable recipes, cooking tips, and tricks with stories throughout the process.

First line of defense
A recipe can look great on paper, but step into the kitchen and things can go a little haywire. We believe in sending our team straight into the fire to get cooking. Before any recipe goes live on our site or in a Culture Kitchen Box, our core CK team cooks it, following the recipe to understand when things got confusing and what issues arise in a typical home kitchen with differing tools and different types of stoves. This is where the red pen comes out and the rewrite begins.

Test variations
We want to bring these amazing dishes to the plates of anyone anywhere. But that can be a little tricky knowing the challenges of ingredient accessibility and various dietary constraints. Unfortunately we can’t make every recipe vegetarian and give alternatives for every hard-to-find ingredient, but we do work hard to bring key substitutions to the table. Of course, we first consut with our Master Cooks about any known substitutions. Then we head back to the kitchen to perform trial after trial until we get it right. Check out one of our posts for alternative tools and methods for perfectly steamed sticky rice here.

Ambassadors across the US in full force
After our team has tested and approved a recipe or menu, we have a fleet of Culture Kitchen Ambassadors testing our recipes out in their homes and letting us know how it went, including which ingredients were hard to find, how a substitution worked, where things got confusing in the steps, and of course, how the heck it all tasted!  Anyone in the US can be an Ambassador, so keep an eye out for our ambassador recruitment posts on Facebook!

Final tweaks & revisions
After all this learning, we make additional revisions to the recipes to make sure they are clear and easily understood. We’ve been there in the kitchen when something goes askew and know what a disappointment it can be. This is why we make sure to put our recipes through the ringer to provide you with the confidence to make a successful recipe at home and have fun doing it!

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