Anchovies, chocolate, peanut butter, oh my!
Food52 has just launched a line of pantry items. Since it launched in 2009, the blog has built a cult following of home cooks, allowing it to spin off a marketplace where editors curate cooking tools, some of which are made in-house by Food52. The platform, which has a monthly reach of 30 million people, now has its own brand of ingredients designed to elevate everyday recipes.
Sebastian Sardo, the former head of grocery at Eataly, was tasked with helping to create this line of 50 products. Over the past 18 months, he’s identified key ingredients that Food52 fans frequently use, then sourced them directly from farms and suppliers around the world.
There are canned tomatoes sourced from a co-op based in Campania, Italy, that manages the production process from seed to jar, and doesn’t include salt or preservatives. There’s olive oil from a family-run mill that was founded in Sicily a hundred years ago. And there are seven shapes of slow-dried pasta made from a fifth-generation family-run pasta maker in Tuscany.
Sardo says that he tested many recipes and chose to add wheat germ to this recipe to give the pasta a nutty flavor profile and chewy texture. “It’s just one example, but we hope that each item in the line stands out like this and reflects our point of view on food,” he says.
The new food line is part of Food52’s broader expansion beyond media into retail. As I’ve reported, the website grew slowly in the first few years after it was founded by Amanda Hesser, who previously worked for the New York Times cooking section. Right before the pandemic, VC firm the Chernin Group (TCG) bought a majority stake in the company for $83 million, bringing Food52’s total funding to $96.6 million and valuing it at $100 million. Earlier this year, former West Elm president Alex Bellos became co-CEO along with Hesser.
While Food52’s pantry items are carefully sourced, they’re designed to be affordable luxuries. Six cans of tomatoes cost $19 and four packs of various flours cost $35. “We think these are simple ways to improve the flavors in your recipes, without a lot of work or cost,” says Hesser. The brand expects to launch dozens more products in the next few months.