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[Photograph: Matthew Benoit / Shutterstock]

Serious Eats turns five years old today. How cool is that? Who would have thunk it?

Five years ago, we launched Serious Eats hoping that serious eaters—people passionate about food—would gravitate to a site that made them feel welcome. A site where they could chew the fat with like-minded folks, about anything going on in the food culture. A place where you could find anything from the best sandwiches in the country to the science of no-knead dough to a beautiful video shot about a farmer in upstate New York who grows strawberries so sweet they make you weep.

We didn't start with much that fateful December day in 2006: Serious Eats, Ed Levine Eats, Slice, and A Hamburger Today—which, in total, garnered 15,000 pageviews on a good day. There was me, the crazy guy with lots of ideas, some good, some not so good; Adam Kuban, keeper of the burger and pizza flames; and Alaina Browne, our general manager, who miraculously keeps Serious Eats and our team running in the right direction. And Meg Hourihan, Blogger co-founder and food blogger who lent us some much-needed web 2.0 wisdom. There were a few more essential ingredients;namely the love, support, and counsel supplied by my brother Mike Levine, who believed in Serious Eats when few others did.

And there were our amazing investors—who believed in this crazy idea of an ad-supported community of serious eaters on the web. Though no one had ever done it before, I told them it was going to be great, and somehow they believed me. So thanks, Serious Eats investors, for believing in my dream.

All Grown Up

By the time we were two, in December of 2008, we were pretty precocious for two year-olds. Ed Levine Eats had morphed into Serious Eats New York, and we had added our food photo sharing site, Photograzing. Advertisers had started to believe in us, and our community was growing faster than we possibly could have hoped. Hundreds of thousands of people had made Serious Eats their home base for all things delicious on-line.

Now we're five. Our crew has grown so much, and it's the greatest food crew ever. Carey Jones, who started with us as an intern in the summer of 2006 and then took over Serious Eats New York in 2009; Robyn Lee, who started with us as an intern in 2007, and now runs AHT and takes photos that seem more and more beautiful every day; Erin Zimmer, former Washington D.C. bureau chief, who moved to New York in 2008 to take over editing the animal that is the Serious Eats homepage; managing editor and Food Lab mastermind J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, who has taken our recipe development to a deliciously scientific and rigorous level; drinks expert Maggie Hoffman with her broad knowledge of wine and other sippables; Ad Sales coordinator Leandra Palermo who has managed to find the time to be our very popular Cereal Bureau Chief; ; Christine Tsai, our web developer, making the site look and run better every day; Chicago editor Nick Kindelsperger brings his A-game and a bunch of talented local contributors every day to the amazing world of Windy City food; Meredith Smith works the Slice beat for every ounce of sauce and cheese and crust she can; Community Manager Carrie Vasios helps keep the many, many conversations on our site passionate, discerning, and inclusive as she adds immeasurably to our Sweets and Bay Area coverage; videographer Jessica Leibowitz for producing more of our fresh SE-original video content; Cook the Book editor Caroline Russock, who every day cooks something from a book to see if we all should follow. Of course, Alaina is still there helping us drive the Serious Eats bus. And our amazing contributors around the world, who give you the content you love, 365 days each year.

Oh, yeah, Serious Eaters, there's one more thing we've added: a burgeoning food community of serious eaters. You guys blow me away every day with your passion for food, your smarts, and your devotion. Well, now that I think about it we have also added two very important serious eaters to the HQ crew: Jamon, he of the pawtograph and cereal-loving nature, and Alaina's gorgeous ten month-old son Malcolm, who is most definitely a serious eater in training.

So though it's Serious Eats' birthday today, we wanted to share it first and foremost with you, our community. You're the reason we get to do what we love every day, and we really appreciate that. So, Happy Birthday to us—and Happy Birthday to all of you.

We've got a bunch of presents for all of you coming up in the new year: lots of new features; old features dramatically improved; more videos in series formats, and more sites dedicated to the foods you love and the cities you love to eat them in. So stay tuned: our fifth year is going to be our most exciting and seriously delicious yet.

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