Bay Area Bites recently got a chance to sit down with Tanya Steel, Editor-in-Chief of one of our favorite food sites, Epicurious.com. In Interview with Tanya Steel Part One we learn all about Epicurious. Next week check back for Part Two to read about bringing attention to hunger in America and the Wine. Dine. Donate. program.
1. You’ve been the editor of Epicurious for a little over a year now. Is there much difference working online as opposed to at a magazine?
There’s a huge difference, I love the instant gratification. I see something, read something, experience something and blog about it. I love that we can turn on a dime–whatever the topic is, whether it’s news, celebrities, holidays. I love the immediacy of it. But technically it’s much more complicated than I imagined. But the biggest revelation has been the passion of the community and being able to communicate with them and have them respond instantly. I feel like my family has grown.
2. How have you put your mark on the site?
I recognized that we had tremendous depth but very little breadth. I expanded a number of things like entertaining for people who want to plan parties. We’ve increased wine coverage, cocktail coverage. I increased the “healthy” area of the site. People really do want to learn how to cook healthy. We have a couple thousand recipes that are tagged “healthy”– some are low-fat, high fiber, wheat and gluten free. We added a blog, Epi TO GO and the Daily Dish.
The Daily Dish allows us to cover everything from where to dine in Yugoslavia to the newest organic labeling standards.
Epi TO GO lets you download recipes on your cell phone and shopping lists. In a supermarket you can find recipes and then find what you need while standing in the middle of the store.
Next year I want to make it even more user-friendly and make it easier to find what’s there.
3. What are some of the secrets to attracting visitors to Epicurious?
If you know how to put a cover together for a print publication you can do it online. Certain iconic things always entice people. People like desserts and using numbers like 502 pie recipes. Using big beautiful photography. Certain images like desserts get more traffic. There’s no such thing as doing too many features on burgers, it’s like doing stories on Provence! You can’t do enough. We change images constantly whereas at a magazine the cover has to last all month.
4. How do you like blogging everyday?
I love it 90% of the time. I’m a writer and reporter so I love having the audience and the framework within which to expound. It’s another way to see what strikes a chord with people.
5. What are some of the more popular features on the site these days?
Healthy cooking, entertaining, all the news. Ethnic cuisine stories. We just did a story on Egyptian cuisine. We have novices but also a hard-core foodie audience that wants to read and learn. Some people come to entertain, some come to learn and some come to make soba noodles. We have to try to answer all of those needs.
Head over to Cooking with Amy to learn what Steel thinks is keeping people from cooking and her take on food trends on the East Coast.