Second Life Podcast: Why Amanda Hesser Left The New York Times for a Side Hustle

Welcome to MyDomaine's Second Life podcast, a series spotlighting successful women who've made major career changes—and fearlessly mastered the pivot. Hosted by Hillary Kerr, co-founder and chief innovation officer at MyDomaine's parent company, Clique Brands, each episode will give you a direct line to women who are game changers in their fields. Subscribe to Second Life on iTunes, and stay tuned—we'll be releasing new episodes on Mondays.



Second Life

Amanda Hesser is responsible for the chic e-commerce and community site Food52, which she launched with co-founder Merrill Stubbs in 2009. Before she struck out on her own, the foodie had a thriving career as an editor for The New York Times and as a cookbook author, both unexpected paths seeing as the entrepreneur studied economics and finance in college. "I had no idea really what I wanted to do, but I knew the sort of lifestyle I wanted," she tells Hillary Kerr on episode 31 of Second Life. Here's how she made the leap from cooking to writing to running her own company.

Food was always important to Hesser and her family, but she admits the idea of pursuing cooking as a career wasn't something that they initially understood. But as soon as she started exploring the idea, there was no turning back. "It felt interesting and right," she says. Her passion led her to Europe to train in an apprenticeship-like setting. While she was learning about baking and cooking, she also felt the itch to begin writing. Suddenly, she was writing a book about seasonal cooking inspired by a gardener she met abroad.

When she returned to America, Hesser started freelance writing, but it was a call from The New York Times that changed everything. With little experience, she packed her bags and moved from Los Angeles to New York before she was even offered the job. "I made a bet that I would get the job and I took all my stuff with me," she recalls. Eleven years and hundreds of stories later, Hesser was ready to pivot again, this time, with a partner.

Hesser and Stubb met while working on a large cookbook project for the Times and both felt there wasn't a space online for foodies interested in more than just recipes. "We decided to set out and create that place on our own," she says.

Though not without its ups and downs, the site launched in 2009 and is now a major destination for food lovers and home cooks everywhere with its own product line on the way. Hesser's advice for other people looking to make a career change? "I think of your career as a narrative and so you want it to be the best narrative it can possibly be," she explains. "The only thing you get by not [taking a risk] is regret."

Head to iTunes to subscribe to Second Life and hear the full episode.