PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) -- It is a never ending cycle of tweak, test, taste and try it again. Everywhere you turn at the Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen you find culinary experts busy working on a creation. The place is in Des Moines, Iowa, inside the Meredith Corporation building. That is the same company that owns Arizona's Family.
The BHG Test Kitchen is legendary. The original Test Kitchen was revolutionary, built in 1928 and the first of its kind. The concept was to make and test every recipe, before went in the magazine. Over the past 90 years, American tastes have changed, and so have the kitchens in people's homes. The test kitchen has evolved as well.
The test kitchen is a big place and a beehive of activity, with amazing sounds and smells hitting you from all sides!
In addition to the cooking bays, the kitchen has full sized dining rooms and a library filled with cookbooks, including every edition of the iconic "Red Plaid" Cookbook.
But there are no high-end, top of the line appliances. They have a mix of different ovens, microwaves and mixers, all different sizes and price ranges.
The idea is to create the recipes that the average person would create using appliances at home. Culinary specialists are the experts with backgrounds in food science and culinary arts, many are registered dietitians. They test four to six recipes each day, often making the same recipes over and over, until they get everything just right. It is not just for Better Homes and Gardens, they are testing recipes for other Meredith magazines and digital platforms.
"We have lots of little fun facts that no would ever realize happen here," explained Lynn Blanchard, Director of the Test Kitchen. Last year, they tested over 2,500 recipes over the course of a year. Some fun facts: The test kitchen goes through 600 pounds of butter, 400 dozen eggs and 800 onions in a year. "We easily spend more than $100,000 on groceries in a year, quite a grocery bill," Blanchard said.
So where do all these recipes come from? The process begins when editors plan out the content for their magazines for the year. Then it is a matter of finding the perfect dish and desserts to compliment the articles and themes. After the recipes are written and prepared, it is ready for the taste panel.
Food editors and test kitchen culinary experts evaluate recipes to make sure they are ready for publication. During the process, the team discusses everything from how the recipe came together, can it be simplified? Is it right for the story, nutrition, serving size, doneness? And most importantly: does it taste good?
If the dish doesn’t pass, it is back to the kitchen for another test to make sure it is just right. Once approved, the recipe moves on to photography and final editing.
"I can’t believe i work here, everyday, it’s like pinch me! Am I in a dream?" said Lynn Blanchard. "And it’s been a dream for 30 years."