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In the age of culinary smackdowns, this one might not be quite up there with the drama of a Batali-Flay Iron Chef food fight, but in terms of Web chatter, it takes the cake. Or should we say the pork shoulder and sugar cookies.
Those are the two dishes on the hotplate as the venerable Cook's Illustrated magazine (a.k.a. America's Test Kitchen), the geeky arbiter of perfect kitchen technique, and the upstart Food52.com, the people-powered website started about a year ago by N.Y. Times food columnist Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs.
Last October, Cook's founder Christopher Kimball on his blog challenged Hesser (though the direct reference to her was later removed) to see which would produce the best recipes: Cook's with its strictly controlled testing and development procedures, or Food52's egalitarian method in which the public submits recipes to a weekly contest, Hesser and Stubbs cull the entries and the public determines the winner.
"We think ours produces a kind of richer recipe and it's more directly connected to people and our culture," Hesser said. "Ours is equal quality, just a different style."
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