Julia Collin Davison
After college, I decided to enroll at the Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, New York, mostly because I really liked to eat. After the CIA, I moved out to San Francisco and Napa, where I held a variety of jobs including catering and working as a cellar rat in a few Napa wineries. Then in 1999, a CIA classmate who was working at Cook’s Illustrated called to say that she was leaving Boston—I jumped at the chance to fill her shoes.
I started off slowly here at Cook’s: I was responsible for grocery shopping, washing dishes, and helping other editors with their prep. Over time, I began to develop my own recipes and write stories for the magazine. And as Cook’s grew into America’s Test Kitchen, with its two magazines, two TV shows, and separate cookbook department, I pitched in and helped out where I could. Mostly, I helped establish the cookbook department. Today, more than 50 books later, our book team has upwards of 15 people and I’m the executive food editor. On an average day, I taste around 15 recipes—I rarely go home hungry for dinner. Twice a year, I take a break from all the eating to be an on-screen cook for both America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country TV on public television. I also appear on QVC every now and again to sell our cookbooks.
I met my husband, Ian, during the filming of the second season of America’s Test Kitchen. He was a chef at the time and was hired to help prep the food we used on the set. I became particularly smitten after watching him hack through a turkey that was frozen solid in order to retrieve the giblet packet. The giblets were needed for a gravy-making scene and somehow these were the only ones around. He broke two heavy steel knives getting through that turkey but freed the giblets in the end. We were engaged within a year. We have a young daughter, Marta, who also loves to eat and prefers to sit on the counter while we cook so she can see into the pot. When I’m not eating, you’ll either find me reading a cheap paperback mystery or in the garden, where I prefer to learn the hard way what does and doesn’t grow in my plant hardiness zone of 6A.