Tanya Steel: Epicurious' Chief Talks Farmers&...

Tanya Steel: Epicurious' Chief Talks Farmers' Markets

I talk about Epicurious here a lot. It is an incredible resource for home cooks.

So imagine how honored I was to meet Tanya Steel, Epicurious’ Editor-in-Chief, in person! As part of the Epicurious Farmers’ Market Tour, Tanya and several members of her staff join chefs from Michelle Obama’s “Chefs Move to Schools” program to tour farmers’ markets around the country.

Here’s what she had to say:

From your experience and observations, has the growing farmers’ market culture caused people to take more interest in cooking at home?
There has been a growing interest in cooking at home over the past three years because of the economy. And also, a rise of fascination with food, particularly cooking TV. People have traveled and realized there is amazing food out there, and they want to recreate it at home.

There is also a hip factor. Green is one of the great movements. Not only is it healthier to eat, it’s worth the money. People realize it’s their responsibility.

What are two tips to help home cooks get the most out of the farmers’ market?
Farmer’s markets create community. Talk to farmers and you can get tips on how best to prepare their foods. If you aren’t sure how to strike up a conversation, ask when they picked the produce or how they like to eat it. Farmers love interaction. It teaches them and helps them learn from their customers.

It’s also a great way to unplug, something to do with your family. You can make a day of it and focus on each other.

For a busy home cook, is a CSA a better option for farm fresh produce?
A CSA is fantastic if you’re time strapped or don’t like choice. You don’t have to figure out what to make. They are so decentralized though. On Epicurious we put together a seasonal map that shows everything fresh in each state every month. It would be great to have something along the same line with CSAs in every city.

I know that since you came on as chief at Epicurious, there has been more focus on entertaining content. What are some are your favorite easy appetizers with farm fresh produce?
Of course it depends on the season. In summer, I love the tomatoes. Panzanella with tomatoes. And fresh pesto. There are so many peaches . . . grilled peaches with creme fraiche.

An Homage

Tanya’s suggestions inspired me to revisit some of my favorite summer foods. And, of course, test them on my guinea pigs . . . I mean dinner guests.

Here are 20 ideas for farm fresh appetizers. Hopefully they will inspire you to get out to your local farmers’ market!

Have you been taking advantage of the farmers’ market this summer? What are you favorite market finds?