Serious Eats Through the Years: Our Early Days, in Photos

Serious Eats Through the Years: Our Early Days, in Photos


Ed Levine eating a hot dog

Ed in the very early Serious Eats days—2007. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

After doing many events across the country promoting my new book, Serious Eater: A Food Lover’s Perilous Quest for Pizza and Redemption, I couldn’t help but get nostalgic for what were—at least sometimes—the good old days at Serious Eats. I still find it hard to believe that the little food blog I started as “Ed Levine Eats” in 2005 has grown into Serious Eats, home base for millions of serious eaters on the web, and, incredibly, a self-sustaining creative endeavor and business besides.

With our 14-year anniversary coming up, I asked Robyn Lee, our former chief photographer and blogger extraordinaire, to send me some photos from the early years. “Roboppy,” as she was nicknamed, being Roboppy, sent me hundreds of photos from the many years she worked at Serious Eats, beginning in the winter of 2007. Back then, Robyn was an intern, completing her degree in food studies from NYU. After Robyn passed along her photos, her successor and our current visual director, Vicky Wasik, went through all of them, as well as plenty of her own, and sent me a list of selects.

Without further ado, here’s a photographic trip down Serious Eats memory lane.

Chef José Andrés, Katz's co-owner Alan Dell, chef Ferran Adrià, and Ed Levine posing at Katz's Deli

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

In 2008, I took the visionary molecular gastronomy chef Ferran Adrià (pictured right next to me) to Katz’s Deli, because, A, I wanted him to try NYC’s original version of foam (also known as the egg cream), and B, I thought he also needed to have a hand-cut-pastrami sandwich at Katz’s, to know what a quintessential New York bite tastes like.

Adrià, who came with his minder and translator José Andrés (he’s the first figure on the left, next to Katz’s co-owner Alan Dell), didn’t much care for the egg cream, but he loved the pastrami. The man has taste.

Ed Levine and his wife Vicky Bijur

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Robyn; my wife, Vicky; and I all took one car to upstate New York for then Serious Eats managing editor (and founder of Slice and A Hamburger Today) Adam Kuban’s wedding in 2010. So, of course, we went food-exploring and came across an old, funky roadside soft-serve joint. Why were Vicky and I so happy? Because soft-serve makes you smile, that’s why.

The Serious Eats team stands around a variety of mail-order pies for a taste test

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Whenever there was a pie tasting in the office, everyone (and I mean everyone) participated. In this 2011 photo, we’re tasting mail-order pies in the Grand Street office for an Every Day With Rachael Ray magazine story. All serious eaters love pie, and, thanks in large part to Stella Parks, one of the country’s finest pastry chefs, we have tons of terrific pie recipes on the site.

Ed Levine and Kenji López-Alt at Serious Eats All-Star Sandwich Festival in 2011.

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Kenji made his incomparable sliders for the first (and only, as it turned out) Serious Eats All-Star Sandwich Festival, held on Governors Island in NYC on July 23, 2011. I don’t know why we were smiling: It was 107 degrees that day. Amazingly, everyone really did have an awesome time. For more about that magical (and very hot) day, check out our slideshow of photos from the festival.

The early Serious Eats crew, including Ed Levine, Kenji Lopez-Alt, Max Falkowitz, Carey Jones, Erin Zimmer, Robyn Lee, Leandra Palermo, Maggie Hoffman, and Erin Zimmer

The 2012-era Serious Eats crew gathers for a rare food-free photo op. Clockwise from top left: myself, former culinary director Kenji López-Alt, New York editor Max Falkowitz, Sweets editor Carrie Vasios Mullins, Chicago editor Nick Kindelsperger, managing editors Carey Jones and Erin Zimmer Strenio, videographer Jessica Leibowitz, account manager/Cereal Eats columnist Leandra Palermo Levine, Drinks editor Maggie Hoffman, general manager Alaina Browne, A Hamburger Today editor/staff photographer Robyn Lee, and Slice editor Meredith Smith.

Mr. Bear, the oversized Serious Eats stuffed-bear mascot, laying in a shower with a bottle of booze.

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

When we partied on Grand Street (a fairly frequent occurrence), everyone drank a little too much, including our stuffed-bear mascot, who lived rent-free in the shower of the upstairs bathroom. I think he’d had one too many of Maggie’s magical potions on this particular day in 2013.

Kenji leaning over a waffle iron, waffling a slice of pizza

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

We went through a heavy waffling phase in the Grand Street office. Kenji appears to be waffling a slice of pizza in this photo from 2014, but I could be wrong. We waffled pie, macaroni and cheese, and omelettes—you name it, we waffled it.

Niki Achitoff-Gray sits in front of a spread of prosciutto and mozzarella from Di Palo Dairy in Little Italy

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Niki in her happy place, eating porchetta, prosciutto, and mozzarella from Di Palo (which was literally across the street from the Serious Eats office on Grand Street) and pizza bianca from Sullivan Street Bakery, in 2014. Many years later, Fexy cofounder Lisa Sharples often brings Niki and the rest of the staff a care package from Di Palo when she visits the new office, located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Di Palo Dairy’s mozzarella and prosciutto are enough to put any serious eater in their happy place.

Daniel Gritzer tastes a whiskful of cheese fondue

[Photograph: Niki Achitoff-Gray]

Daniel Gritzer in his element, cooking and tasting fondue in 2015. When Daniel applied to be Kenji’s chief lieutenant, he came to the office after a full day’s work at Food & Wine and cooked a chicken dish under the watchful eye of Kenji. I couldn’t see him from my desk, but I knew we had a keeper when Kenji texted me, “This dude can really cook.”

Kenji stands over a broken induction stovetop

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Though we made the most of the limited kitchen space we had on Grand Street, sometimes things did go awry. Here, in 2015, Kenji is examining our broken induction cooktop. I don’t even know how this happened, but I do remember there was no way to fix it. I think they sent us a replacement for free.

There have been so many memorable moments in Serious Eats’ history, I have to admit I teared up a couple of times putting this post together. But I’m not letting the tears get me down. In the end, there have been far more tears of joy than sadness.

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