Times Insider explains who we are, what we do, and offers behind-the-scenes insights into how we unite our journalism.
Since Emily Weinstein began her role as food and cooking editor at The Times in December 2021, she has overseen her share of ambitious projects and popular recipes. Whether investigating the cause of soaring food prices or a collection of Thanksgiving dinner favorites, the team strives to reach out to foodies or just the beginning of their journeys into the kitchen.
Even before taking up her current role, Ms. Weinstein was a contributor to The Times food and culinary staff. She started in 2007, as a freelance journalist working in the newspaper’s restaurant database.
In a recent conversation, I talked about staying focused on our readers’ interests and what’s next for food and cooking. This interview has been edited.
When did you first learn to think about food as a journalist?
I learned in the New York Times. It was an amazing education for me. I arrived years ago as a freelancer and worked on our restaurant database at the time. This was a fact-checking job. As much as I loved food—and I really do love food and reading about it—it never occurred to me that it might be what I wanted to do as an editor and reporter. Then I came to the Times and kept thinking about it.
I also love to cook, but I don’t consider myself a professionally trained cook. One of the great strengths of NYT Cooking is that it has culinary professionals, but we also have a lot of expert editors who are home cooks and really love food. It is the marriage of these two sets of skills and sensibilities that produces NYT Cooking.
What do you have in mind for your coverage now, other than Thanksgiving?
I want to write about restaurants the way people who love restaurants talk about them. We’re posting increasingly critiques of the restaurant, but I also want to make sure we tell you where to go on any given Tuesday night. We launched a restaurant newsletter this year, the Where to Eat Newsletter. This is a big part of this overall effort. And I want to continue to grow and think about that.
As for cooking, we’re excited to have our video team up and running in our Manhattan studio. In terms of recipes, we always think about our readers: what are their needs? How can we help you make your day easier? How can recipes help you do this?
You wrote that ice cream is your favorite food. Is there something about it that embodies a universal idea of good food?
There is an art and a science to exceptional ice cream. But basically, it’s just plain fun. Ice cream can appear in the most luxurious context imaginable; It could also be something you eat at a snack bar on the boardwalk. But it is only about grace. Nothing melts like ice cream. It’s very happy making.
The food is endlessly fun. But I feel our recipes should make you hungry. They should provide some kind of baseline level of satisfaction. And ice cream does that.
You are also writing a file Five dishes a night the news. Are the muscles you use when you put this together different than the ones you rely on while editing?
It’s really nice to have that moment every week when I’m on the treadmill writing. But I see it as a big part of my job as an editor. It keeps me close to my readers and what they need and want.
My newsletter is very specific. It’s nighttime cooking, relatively short ingredients list, not a lot of pots and pans, made for busy people who still want something good to eat at the end of the day.
Many people use cooking as a way to learn about the world. So the night recipes must be fun, or the readers must learn a new technique. But mostly it should be delicious and shouldn’t be too much work.
I think it helps me as a costing editor and helps me as the person ultimately responsible for setting the editorial vision for cooking.
After a year in this job, what have you learned, and what do you hope to do next with the office?
I’d like to cover restaurant and restaurant culture more voraciously; I want to make our restaurant reviews and coverage more helpful. We have our national restaurant list – Covid has shown how much people love restaurants and how important restaurants are to public life, especially in cities. I want to expand on that coverage.
We’ve greatly expanded our staff, and the biggest fun this past year has been seeing all of these staff settle in and do a great job. The dynamics of our Covid world have changed this year and our team is getting out more, something seems to have clicked. We did a great job in 2021, but this year I look at everything our team does, and I’m inspired.
The next step is to keep the overall mission focused on great food journalism, and on great recipes that help and bring people together.