Nov 17, 2011 • By

The editor behind Big Red

Cooking has always been part of Grace Wells’ life. She grew up making recipes from her mom’s Betty Crocker Cookbook, the 1950 original.

For most of her life, the classic “Big Red” cookbook has been the one she has always turned to for delicious, reliable recipes.

It is fitting, then, that this self-described foodie is one of the editors of the new Betty Crocker Cookbook released last month.

“To me it was a gift to work on the Betty Crocker Cookbook,” says Grace. “It was a wonderful experience to be part of making this cookbook come alive.”

The 11th edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook is the most significant revision of the book in 60 years and really brings Betty into the 21st century.

The cookbook has 1,500 recipes, 1,100 all new photos and an online component that links readers to 85 videos and 400 bonus recipes.

It was Grace’s job to lead the huge team of talented General Mills colleagues that made it all happen. You can see many of those team members, and hear from Grace, in some behind-the-scenes videos posted here on

Grace chose recipes, coordinated food testing, supervised photo shoots, edited text and worked with the publisher to make sure everything was in the right place.

“We had a lot of scheduling challenges with deadlines, so trying to get those under control was memorable,” Grace recalls with a chuckle. “Still, coordinating all the efforts of the people on the team was gratifying when you get the end product and it looks as good as it does.”

It took about two years to plan and develop this edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook. Grace guesses a team will start on the next update in just a few years.

But instead of focusing on the future, she is appreciating the present.

“I think the Betty Crocker Cookbook is probably the most fulfilling book I’ve ever done,” Grace says. “I was able to totally take on the project, so that was really fun.”

Before joining General Mills six years ago, Grace worked for Pillsbury and a number of other companies. Her career has focused on developing cookbooks and the recipes inside them.

“I always like to take recipes and make them easier and quicker,” Grace explains. “I have a history of developing many, many recipes.”

Of all the recipes in the new Betty Crocker Cookbook, Grace says two brie recipes in the appetizer section are her favorite.

In addition to cooking, Grace enjoys watercolor painting, gardening and traveling. She loves the outdoors, especially the back country. At one time, she was an avid skier.

Just like these hobbies and interests are part of her, so is “Big Red.”

“Parts of me are in the book, also,” says Grace. “Parts of who I am and what I know – all of that is included within the book.”