When you follow a cookbook and the dish comes out perfectly, give yourself a pat on the back. But there's someone else you should thank as well: the recipe tester. A recipe tester works for a magazine, cookbook publisher or the like, and tests a chef's recipe to see if what's written works for home cooks in their own kitchens. The tester gets a recipe from a chef, then works through the chef's notes to translate them into a recipe format with which people are familiar. Then, the tester prepares the dish and irons out any wrinkles (oven temperature or measurement issues, for instance) until it's easy enough for the average reader to prepare.
Ian Knauer, a recipe tester, tells a story of receiving a recipe from a pastry chef for a tart. Knauer was concerned about the amount of butter in the crust, but followed the recipe anyway. As the tart baked, the excess butter in the crust ended up catching the oven on fire. After a call to the chef, Knauer found out she had accidentally specified an incorrect amount of butter for her recipe [source: Goode]. Recipe testers look for problems like that, and more.