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Behind the scenes at the L.A. Times' Test Kitchen

February 6, 2009 | 10:34 am


There's always something a-cooking or a-baking in the L.A. Times' Test Kitchen, which tests more than 600 recipes a year. And several recipes need to be tweaked, retested and so on until Times Test Kitchen Manager Noelle Carter gives them the stamp of approval. Only about 400 or so of these recipes are fit to print.

That means that the Test Kitchen is abuzz with activity all day long. And all day long, people from throughout the building just happen by. You know, just in case there's some food lying around that looks like it needs eating.

So in addition to creating, deconstructing and reconstructing countless recipes, Noelle has to keep people from eating goodies that need to be saved for photographs, videos or additional taste tests.

Here's how she does it:

The "No Touch No Eat" sign is a story in itself: Former L.A. Times Staff Writer Charles Perry, who still graces our pages, had it made about 10 years ago as an apology of sorts for tucking into a cake that had not yet been photographed. He made two others, too, that are still in use in the kitchen: "No Touch At All" and "Don't Even Think About it." (Perry was known for his signs. He had one -- "Vegetarians Will Be Shot" -- posted above his computer screen. If you asked him about it, he would hasten to add, "I won't shoot vegetarians for being vegetarians. What they eat is their business. I'll shoot them if they start talking about vegetarianism, because what I eat is my business.")

The cookies are the result of a Culinary S.O.S. request -- a reader asked Noelle to nab the recipe for the Tortona Chocolate cookies at Massimo’s Delectables in Marina del Rey. Luckily, Massimo's was happy to help. The recipe will be in next Wednesday's Food section, so check back for it.

Perfect for St. Valentine's Day, no?

--Rene Lynch

Want more recipes? Check out our ever-growing collection of Times Test Kitchen recipes at latimes.com/recipes.

Photo credit: Noelle Carter