NPR’s New Food Series Relies on Listeners’ Family Recipes

NPR’s New Food Series Relies on Listeners’ Family Recipes

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There’s a reason we spend hours elbow deep in pots and pans every holiday season. Yes, the food is delicious, but more enduring than any casserole are the memories of cooking with friends and family. It’s those moments, rather than the recipes themselves, that NPR is highlighting in new food series All Things We’re Cooking

In February, NPR managing editor Gerry Holmes was reminiscing over a cookbook his mother had created—a gift even more precious after she passed. The reflection prompted Holmes to speak with chief cultural editor Nicholas Charles, and the idea for All Things We’re Cooking was born. 

Over the past five months, the team has led an outreach strategy across NPR and its member stations, asking listeners and readers to send in their most meaningful family recipes—a collaboration between the audience and newsrooms. Charles says once they began asking for submissions, people were eager to share stories about the loved ones behind the dishes. 

While working on the series, editors aimed to capture the diversity of NPR’s audience. Charles hopes this project is something all readers and listeners can relate to, and an opportunity for them to “see themselves” and their cultures in NPR’s storytelling. 

“One of the first things you know about your family is the smell, odors, all the wonderful things that come out of the kitchen,” he says. “Especially immigrant families, it connects them back to their heritage…it connects you back to history, and heritage and memories.” 

Some episodes will feature the voices of people who shared their family recipes, telling stories in their own words. Desiree Hicks, senior supervising editor at NPR, says she is excited for NPR’s audience to have an opportunity to hear “directly from the folks [featured] in these stories,” and make their own personal connections. 

Segments will be uploaded online over the next six weeks, and aired on some stations. The first batch of stories launched November 20 and highlights six people. Articles first dive into the meaning and importance of the dishes, followed by the recipes themselves. By the end of December, nearly 30 stories and recipes will be published as a part of the series. 

Editorial Fellow

Keely recently graduated with her master’s in journalism from American University and has reported on local DC, national politics, and business. She has previously written for The Capitol Forum.