Order by 2pm today, December 18th to guarantee shipment for the holidays! All orders received after 12/18 will ship the first week in January.
Back to Stories

Merrill Stubbs

By Samantha Hahn on 12/29/17

Merrill Stubbs
We are longtime fans of everything Food52 and so it is an absolute honor to chat with co-founder and president Merrill Stubbs on the QL Kids Magazine, happy reading! Photography by Nick Steever.
QL: Merrill where does your love of food and cooking stem from?
My mother loves to tell one particular story about my childhood: When I was six or seven, I said to her, out of the blue, "Can we roast some meats?" I had been devouring the Little House books and was entranced by all the descriptions of cooking and eating: butchering a pig, boiling maple syrup, making candy, churning butter and coloring it with carrot juice. My mom says that's when my love of cooking was born, and I'm inclined to agree. 

QL: When you were a child, were there a lot of cookbooks in your home? What were some you remember seeing around? Did your family enjoy cooking? 

My mother was an excellent cook. A lot of the cookbooks I still rely on are the same ones she used. She had all the great workhorses like The Joy of Cooking, Fannie Farmer and Craig Claiborne's version of the New York Times Cookbook. She was also a big Silver Palate fan, and she had this amazing spiral-bound community cookbook called Forum Feasts; her unbeatable banana bread and a few other sweets she made often came from that book.

QL: What was the process like launching Food52? What were your initial goals for it and did you achieve them? Were there any good business books you read along the way that guided you?

When we started Food52, my partner, Amanda, and I set out to create a brand rooted in community, that harnessed the knowledge and talents of people who care about how they eat and how they live, and also served and inspired them in a holistic way. We didn't do everything all at once, but gradually layered on the many components of our business and brand; we chose this path because we were focused on earning and keeping the trust of our community. We started with just recipes, and then we added articles and videos, followed by a Q&A platform called the Hotline, and finally our Shop. There was a lot to get done, with limited resources, and we've each experienced moments of burnout along the way. During one tough period, I read The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, which focuses on expending energy smartly, and taking time to recharge and disconnect in order to be happier and more productive. I can't say I've completely mastered all of their tactics, but reading that book was a turning point for me in terms of how I think about boundaries and self care. 

QL: Do you love cooking with your family? You are around food for work but can you still approach it at home with an air of play and enjoyment?

I don't actually get to do much cooking for work these days, so I relish my time in the kitchen at home. My 5-year-old daughter, Clara, and I have started cooking together more, which makes it even more fun. We've started weekend pancake and holiday cookie traditions, and both my kids get involved on pizza night. 

QL: What prompted you to become a food writer? Do you also love to read?

I've always enjoyed reading and writing. I studied English and Italian literature in college, and it was during a semester abroad in Italy that I took my first official cooking class. During my senior year, my favorite way to procrastinate while writing my thesis (about medieval literature) was cooking for my roommates. I worked my way through much of the Joy of Cooking that year. Later, after I'd gone through cooking school and spent a few years catering and teaching cooking classes, I realized I missed the creative exercise of writing and decided right then and there to become a food writer. 

QL: What are some children’s books you loved growing up?

The Little House books (see above), Milly Molly Mandy, Eloise, Pippi Longstocking, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, All-of-a-Kind Family, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Tuck Everlasting, and the list goes on... 

QL: What are some stories you love reading with your children? What are some of their personal favorite books?

My son, Henry, who's three, loves anything about trains, trucks and animals. His current favorites are Corduroy and My Truck is Stuck. My husband loved the Sweet Pickles books when he was a kid, so he hunted down a used version of the entire series (missing one book), and they are Clara's all-time favorite books.

QL: What are some picture books you love for the visuals?

Eric Carle's visuals are iconic, and I've always loved anything Hilary Knight illustrates (as evidenced by my list of favorites above!). My kids are captivated by Alison Oliver's illustrations in the BabyLit series.

QL: What are your family’s reading habits? Are there any particular spaces carved out for reading in your home or outside?

Bedtime reading happens every night with both my kids, and my husband and I trade off because we love this part of the day with each of them. I usually read to Henry sitting on the floor because he has trouble keeping still for more than a minute or two, and Clara likes to snuggle up on her bed to read. She's just starting to be able to read to us a little, which is exciting! Little does she know that her whole world is about to change.

QL: Thank you so much for chatting with us Merrill. 

By Samantha Hahn on 12/29/17

Share this Story

More Stories from QL Kids

Connect With Us

Sign up for exciting news and updates on all things
QL kids.