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Saveur Test Kitchen

Test Kitchen Director Hunter Lewis

    Dining with Chefs: Test Kitchen Director Hunter Lewis
Saveur Test Kitchen

Because judgment is so valuable in the test kitchen, we asked Lewis if there's anything he can do to save a recipe when he thinks he won't be able to use it. "I think a lot of it is that sometimes you get very, very basic recipes in which someone thinks you have a level of cooking experience that frankly some of our readers might not have," he said. "That could be something like a Mexican recipe where they say to dump onions, garlic and tomatoes in water in a blender, and that's your sauce. We'll sweat the onions and the garlic down to draw some of the flavor and add the herbs that they are talking about. Little nuances like that we'll add from the get-go."

In a classroom, sometimes you pass a test and sometimes you fail it. We wondered if the same is true in a test kitchen and therefore asked Lewis if he'd ever had a recipe that he thought would work out perfectly but didn't -- or a recipe that he thought would fail that ended up knocking his socks off. "Sometimes the simplest recipes are the most surprising," he said. "One that really blew us away recently is a roasted chicken for the LA issue. It is chicken parts, chopped lemon -- with the peel off but the white pith still on -- rosemary, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. It's super simple. As you're roasting it, it draws out the juices of the chicken, which marry with the olive oil, lemon and rosemary, and it becomes this ultra savory delicious dish that screams for some focaccia or ciabatta -- something to dip. We definitely respond to that. It has only six ingredients, but you can create something delicious. That's something that a reader will respond to, too. I'm not saying there's any right recipe for our readers, but that's typically going to work better than a 20-ingredient cake recipe or something like that. It's got some character and soul to it."

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