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Talking Turkey 1


Talking Turkey—Rochelle Remembers Going High-Tech For Thanksgiving

Talking Turkey — Rochelle Remembers Going High-Tech For Thanksgiving

I was an early user of AOL. I still use AOL. I could not withstand the inconvenience of letting all the people who have my AOL email address know that I was switching and joining my children or friends on another email service.

Thanksgiving 1993, I was having a large crowd over and needed to get two turkeys. Big problem — I couldn’t get two turkeys and all the sides in our oven. I’d learned from watching a distant uncle by marriage, Bob DuBeau, roast lots of turkeys on multiple grills for an outdoor family wedding one summer. So, if my oven was too small, I wondered, could I roast one of the turkeys on our backyard grill? I pulled out about 20 cookbooks, back issues of Gourmet and Bon Appetit, sat on the floor and started searching for recipes. No luck. Not a single How to Roast Your Turkey on the Grill” recipe.

Six-thirty a.m., Thanksgiving morning, I got on the AOL Talk Turkey hotline and posted: Can I cook my turkey on my barbecue?” I got twenty answers in two minutes and a lot of them read: Just make sure you don’t run out of gas.” I responded to everyone who answered me, asked for extra tips, said Thank You” and fired up the Weber.

I had two Thanksgiving celebrations that year: my family and guests sitting around our dining room table enjoying our oven-roasted and barbecue-roasted turkeys, and my AOL family emailing to ask how my meal had turned out. 

I learned three lessons that Thanksgiving. First, being uncertain about how to do something can lead to a new opportunity. Second, the Internet is a place where you can access information and advice from multiple places. Third, the Internet makes sorting through those multiple sources of information easy. I was so inspired and excited by my conversations with my AOL family and the three lessons I learned that I started talking with SI Newhouse about entering the world of new media. 

No one really knew the potential impact of the Internet in 1993. But Conde Nast had a point of entry — high-quality recipe and lifestyle content from Gourmet and Bon Appetit—and SI Newhouse. He was willing to step into the next open space. Conde Net and Epicurious, the food and gourmet resources site, which grew from my search through those twenty cookbooks for a turkey recipe, were born. And it wasn’t an easy delivery. In the early days of the Internet, we worked off a radio signal. One day, we panicked — editors, writers, publishers, art directors, in a tizzy because the network was down, the network was down; or so we thought. The cleaning lady had moved a plant in front of a window and blocked the radio signal. Plant moved and we were back in business.