How Catherine Cassidy Shows Great Taste At Home And Always
They say that, “Home is where the heart is”. No doubt, this is true, but if you ask my kids - especially those away at college - what they miss most about 'home', they’d probably say “mom’s cooking”. No, I am not formally trained but I’ve spent twenty-three years perfecting a menu that my children associate with happy memories, tremendous comfort, and great taste. That counts for a lot in life. The ties that bind love, food, and family are boundless and timeless.
Taste of Home magazine understands and embraces this reality like no other. It respects and validates the experience of the 'home-grown' chef (like me) and then legitimizes it through their magazine and its various derivatives. Simple recipes - tried and true - that will bring smiling faces ‘back to the table’ time and time again is what Taste of Home (TOH) is all about.
This is a magazine that is fun to read while watching your kids at the beach or when planning a holiday celebration where family is abound and drop-ins, always welcome. So if you haven’t gotten your hands on a copy yet, do yourself a favor and read more about why you should from the head honcho of TOH, herself, Catherine Cassidy, in her interview below. She’ll “bring it on home” and make you wonder how Taste of Home ever escaped you.
Share your name and title.
Catherine Cassidy, SVP/Chief Content Officer for the 'food and country media brands' of Trusted Media Brands. Those brands are Taste of Home, Birds & Blooms, Country, Country Woman, Farm & Ranch Living and Reminisce. We are based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Share a quick peek into your life.
This is my 13th year at the company; before that, I was at Rodale in eastern Pennsylvania for a long stretch, which included starting the special interest publications division and several years as the editor-in-chief of Prevention magazine. I’m originally from California but have spent most of my life outside the state. And despite its protracted winters, I love Milwaukee and am happy to call it home. My husband, Steve, and I both have two kids from previous marriages, three daughters and a son who are all in their 20s and consider each other family. Rounding out our brood is Bobbaloo, a Bichon-Shih Tzu mix, who is spoiled utterly rotten.
Share your personal mantra and how that ties into ‘Taste of Home's’ mission, focus and goals.
"Ski the conditions". It’s my mantra, both personally and professionally. Assuming there will be twists and turns in the road ahead helps, not only to deal with change, but to anticipate and even instigate it. In the media business, where change has been relentless in the last 15-20 years, skiing the conditions is absolutely vital to success.
Share the size of your current audience and explain the various mediums in which ‘Taste of Home’ reaches this audience.
With 2.5 million subscribers and an audience of more than 13 million, Taste of Home is the largest food magazine in the world. In addition to Taste of Home magazine, we also publish another frequency magazine, Simple & Delicious, which is filled with quick and easy recipes for busy people and represents an additional 450,000 readers.
We produce hundreds of hard-cover and paperback cookbooks, which we sell through the mail, online and at grocery and other retail stores. We publish upwards of 60 books annually. Our flagship is The Taste of Home Cookbook, which features more than 1,500 recipes. It’s in its fourth edition; since its launch in 2006, more than 2 million copies have been sold.
Each month, an average 13 million home cooks visit our web site, tasteofhome.com, which features more than 50,000 recipes along with unique seasonal collections and tips and how-to’s from our test kitchen chefs. We have over 5 million email newsletter subscribers, more than 5.5 million people are fans of our Facebook page, and almost a million more follow us on Instagram and Pinterest.
Then there’s Taste of Home LIVE, an experience like no other. We bring a two-hour live cooking show by culinary experts to luxury venues in cities across the continental U.S., and it’s one heck of a fun time. This season launches April 18th at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Milwaukee.
Altogether, we estimate that over 50 million home cooks turn to Taste of Home every month.
How large are you in proportion to the other Trusted Media Brands?
Taste of Home is by far the largest of the TMBI brands. While Reader’s Digest is, undoubtedly, the flagship because of its heritage and incredible brand recognition, Taste of Home is much larger from both an audience and revenue standpoint.
Explain what defines Taste of Home away from competitors?
Taste of Home is real food from real home cooks, all of which is curated and tested by our food editors and test kitchen chefs to ensure success every time. That I know of, we are the only food media brand that provides user-generated recipes at scale and tests each one of those recipes before publishing. We test for flavor, appearance, time required, ease of use and appropriateness for our brand—no exotic or expensive ingredients or crazy-difficult cooking methods. This one-two punch makes us unique and has built incredible trust and loyalty among our customers.
Describe your core audience. Why do you believe they read Taste of Home and what do you believe those who don't fall into that core will gain most from Taste of Home?
Taste of Home readers engage with our brand because they themselves have been creating the content since the magazine's launch nearly 25 years ago. They are busy moms on-the-go, passionate cooks, and frequent entertainers; they juggle lots of responsibilities; and they view their own time as a valuable commodity. So they need realistic solutions that work. They count on Taste of Home to provide those solutions. But they also have a strong sense of community and take time to help those around them. They understand that cooking is as much about the feeling you bring to the table and the time you spend with others as it is about the food you serve. And they turn to Taste of Home, again, to support their passion with inspiring ideas that empower their lifestyle and help them to nurture and create joy for others.
How are you endeavoring to expand your readership past this core, editorially and business-wise?
We’ve been rapidly expanding in the digital space over the past few years, and we see our biggest growth opportunities, from both audience and revenue perspectives, online. We’re making sizable investments in digital content creation—both text and video—actively seeking out content partnerships and creating more meaningful ways for our faithful to connect with one another. That said, I don’t believe digital will ever completely replace print food magazines and cookbooks. People of all ages still enjoy the tactical experience of paging through the magazine or one of our books, and these businesses are still very profitable for us.
Share the title and crux of your television series. When and where can it be viewed?
We don’t currently have a TV series, although we have an executive production team currently shopping some ideas to cable networks. However, we do a weekly Facebook Live broadcast called Test Kitchen Live, where our chefs demonstrate recipes and cooking tips. We started this last May and the shows have been growing in popularity.
What do you love most about leading the Taste of Home team and brand?
The people, in both cases. I am lucky and very happy to create products for the good, lively people that make up our audience, to be the good news in their mailboxes and inboxes, to make them happy. And I am privileged to be the leader of a team that is passionate about their work and our audience. What could be better?
Share a social cause Taste of Home supports?
We celebrate cooks who care by sharing their stories about how they give back to their communities through cooking. More locally, here in Milwaukee, we have worked with The Hunger Task Force, the Sojourner Peace House, our local chapter of Feeding America and the Milwaukee Center for Independence, which finds job opportunities for mentally challenged adults. The two dishwashers in our test kitchens, Suzanne and Carlos, came to us through MCI, and we cherish them both.
When all is said and done, how do you want to be remembered in relationship to Taste of Home? as a person?
With Taste of Home and in this business in general, I would like to be thought of as a leader who respects the primary nature of our brand but is also willing to make changes and take risks to move it forward, that I am a successful manager of the delicate balance that makes Taste of Home as relevant today as it was 25 years ago. Personally? As genuine, thoughtful and someone you can believe in.
In every issue and every dish Taste of Home shares are heaping spoonfuls of love. Keeping the magazine so close to its roots guarantees this as does the leadership of Catherine Cassidy, who seems to be right at home ensuring that other hearths never go hungry, whether it be through nutritious and delicious food or bowlfuls of love.
Many thanks to Catherine Cassidy for making this interview possible