Taste Testing 101

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By Julia Sayers

Here at Cooking with Paula Deen, taste testing is an important part of our job. We wouldn’t publish any recipe that didn’t taste delicious, so each one goes through a rigorous testing process. Every recipe you see in each issue has been tasted by myself and others from our editorial team.

Finding the Perfect Pizza
Our editorial line-ups and themes are established much earlier than the actual recipe development process in each story. We hand over the themes and topics of each column, and then the culinary staff in the test kitchens takes over. They focus on one column at a time and create the recipes based on our input. Let’s take the grilled pizza feature (Pizza Fresh From the Grill) from the May/June issue for example. We wanted them to create several recipes for pizzas using fresh ingredients that were both trend-forward and traditional flavor combinations. Once they do their research and start cooking, we receive a call and head down to the kitchens to see and taste. They have the dishes lined up, and on this day there were seven grilled pizzas. We take a couple bites (OK, maybe more depending on how hungry we are) of each type of pizza and then discuss the recipe with the test kitchen staff member who developed them.

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It’s All About You!
We talk about the ingredients used, the method, the overall taste (does it need more cheese, less sauce, more flavor, etc.), and if the recipe tastes the way you assume it would, meaning does Bacon-Cheeseburger Pizza actually taste like a bacon cheeseburger and does the Baked Potato Pizza have all of the elements of a baked potato? But most importantly, we think about you, our readers. Is this pizza something the readers would like? Would they actually make it, and is it simple enough for a home cook to make on any given night? We also want to make sure the recipe fits in with the other recipes in the issue and that it is consistent with the type of recipes Paula has shared in the past.

The Final Touches
If a dish passes all of these tests, it is good to go and will be moved along and marked as ready for photography. But if the recipe needs adjusting, it will be remade for a second tasting until it is up to par with the others in that story. Sometimes recipes just don’t work out at all, which is why we often test more than the number of recipes allocated per page in the issue. Sometimes the extra ideas end up tasting better than the ones we originally slated. You never know until you test them, which is why it’s so important. We want you to have only the best, and it’s not such a bad job—actually we are happy to chow down on all of Paula’s yummy recipes!

To do a taste testing of your own, check out a few of the grilled pizza recipes here, and pick up a copy of the May/June issue, on newsstands now, to get the rest.

Julia Sayers grew up with a love and appreciation for good food, instilled in her by her Italian family. She learned to cook from family recipes, passed down from her mother and grandmother. As she grew older, she decided to pursue a career in journalism to express her passion for food through writing. After working for newspapers, a travel magazine, a cookbook publisher, and even as a dolphin photographer in the Florida Keys, Julia came on board with Cooking with Paula Deen as the Associate Editor. She loves that she gets to work with food everyday, whether it be writing about it, tasting delicious goodies in the test kitchen, or overseeing photoshoots.
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Reader Comments:

54321

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?

By Melissa on August 13, 2014

54321

Food is all about taste smell and presentstion. Sometimes you do have to make the same dish twice or mabe three times to get the pefect dish just like a good book. I would love to win your cookware. I enjoy cooking and watching your shows. I grew up in the south where my mom and grandparents loved to cook. They taught me as a young girl how to cook with fresh ingredients and while on a budget. I have been cooking for awhile now and I'm using a lot of their ideas as well. I support you 100% Paula. I miss seeing your shows. I wish you the best.

By Amy Amos on July 01, 2014

54321

I love ALL fazes of your site. Congratulations to the Newly Weds!!!!! and the families as well. There is NOTHING about you Paula and your family, that I do not like. GENUINELY loving, caring, people, others ought to take y'all as examples, GOOD EXAMPLES!!!!! Take care and GOD bless each of you, and PAULA, GOD BLESS YOU IN ALL YOUR ENDEAVERS. Friends From Afar, Barbara and my Corgi (dog) MIATTA

By Barbara J. Beach on June 27, 2014

54321

Julia, as a food writer and recipe developer myself, I really enjoyed this blog. Thanks!

By Angela on June 23, 2014

54321

I love your Lady and Sons' Chicken in Wine Sauce recipe. Except I use olive oil in place of the butter and low sodium condensed cream of chicken soup.

By Pam Klingensmith on May 28, 2014

54321

Paula, when are you coming to Baltimore, MD?

By Cynthia Allen on May 27, 2014

54321

Hey Paula I need some recipes on chutneys. Any suggestions?

By donna on May 23, 2014

54321

How does one get to work in a test kitchen? I graduated from Culinary School last summer and I'm pretty much thinking that would be my dream job!

By Kim Betts on May 22, 2014

54321

Excited about your tour.....had heard you were coming to Pencacola, Fl....hoping it is true! Has a date been set? My seven year old granddaughter wants me to take her!!!!! Are children allowed to come? She is an avid watcher of cooking shows and loves you!!!!! Margaret Parker Thomaston, Al

By Margaret Parker on May 21, 2014

54321

Does the may/june issue of cooking with Paula Deen have a different cover ,mine has Paula and flowers in red white and blue.....I see one at the store with a grilled pizza on the front....confusing because I have duplicated these magazines before and the only difference is the covers.

By KAREN QUESENBERRY on May 21, 2014

54321

STILL WONDERING WHERE TO FIND THE RECIPE FOR THE CHICKEN SALAD SHOWN ON THE CROISSANT. ALOT OF PEOPLE HAVE ASKED FOR IT.

By KAREN QUESENBERRY on May 21, 2014

54321

Hope soon will be back on TV again .i miss Paula deem .havent watch food channel since removed her.miss Paula .no money travel see her also all I can do is wen site an Facebook .

By Wilma baker on May 21, 2014

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm