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FOOD + DRINK

Provisions by Food52

Our beta-test of the recipe-sharing community's new store and a sneak peek at two unreleased items

by Nara Shin
on 06 August 2013
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Food52 began as a way to crowdsource recipes for a cookbook, but its success has made it the go-to online platform to share recipes and support people who are passionate about cooking (and eating). Today, their new e-commerce store Provisions opens, but it's always been part of the plan from the beginning, says former New York Times food editor and Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser. After four years of trial and research, Hesser and her partner Merrill Stubbs are diving into the future of e-commerce—the fusion of commerce and content.

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Compared with similar kitchenware sellers like Crate & Barrel or Sur La Table, Provisions reads less like an online store and more like a painstakingly groomed hybrid Pinterest-Etsy page. The most distinguishing aspect is the seamless transition between Provisions and Food52. For instance, browsing the Pillivuyt Cake Stand ($69) shows not only related items but a link to the Coconuttiest Shortbread Cookies recipe that uses the same cake stand as well as tips for mastering layered cakes. "These are products that we love and truly use, and we want people to see how they could try to fit it into their own lives, in a real way, instead of just a studio shot," describes Hesser. Part of this integration includes harnessing Food52's real-time Q&A board, Hotline, so that users can direct questions to people who have bought a specific product.

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Each item also has a good-sized description about where it's sourced, showing the staff's dedication to researching artisans and producers. Hesser continues, "We think of Food52 as a platform for people, talented cooks and bloggers, as a place where they can be celebrated and share ideas and expand their presence. We feel like Provisions is equally that for small producers. There's a ton of amazing small companies that make tableware, cookware and tools, and for them it's impossible to reach a larger audience online without spending a lot of marketing money that they often don't have."

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Some of the hidden gems that the staff discovered were peach-colored Himalayan salt plates ($45), wholegrain freekeh ($14) from Australia, and a limited number of British Preserve Pans from the 1880s, sourced from vintage cookware collector Coppermill Kitchen. One successful method for finding lesser-known products is through social media, such as their Provisions Scouts Pinterest board, where a handful of community members and contributors pin suggestions of products they like. One of these pins was the Burlap Textured Dessert plates ($50-98), which is now stocked at Provisions—and Hesser has already ordered a set for her own home.

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During the beta-testing, we ordered a few barware products from Provisions. Even the heavy mixing glass arrived perfectly intact and tucked inside the box was a pre-stamped recipe postcard (inscribed with a 20% discount code) to send to a friend. But what sealed our purchasing experience was returning to Provisions to try the suggested recipes using our new cocktail-making equipment.

Although there are only a small selection of goods to purchase on Provisions, the items will be gradually updated. Cool Hunting has an exclusive preview at the next items to be added in the following weeks, which include Núñez de Prado extra virgin olive oil from Spain, and wooden bowls hand-dipped in different colors from Wind and Willow Home.

Starting today, you can browse the selection of kitchenware and home goods at Provisions. To celebrate the store's launch, Food52 is offering $10 off every first purchase of $50 or more.

Images courtesy of James Ransom

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