Anyone who knows me from the kitchen can tell you that I am a true fan boy of everything from America’s Test Kitchen. Over the past several years, whether watching one of their shows on my local PBS station, WGBH, reading a true cooking page turner like The Science of Good Cooking, or finding the recipe to inspire the other night’s dinner (which by the way was an absolutely fantastic skillet shepherd’s pie) from my online subscription, they’ve never let me down.
That all changed earlier this year when I started to read the reports the of Christopher Kimball’s sudden departure from ATK. I know there are plenty of people out there who’ve found him to be somewhat superior, if not off-putting, perhaps even a little snide, snooty or downright aloof, but I always came back for the content and truly appreciated the institution that he built from the ground up.
Now here we are several months later, Kimball’s new venture, the Milk Street Kitchen is up and running. I signed up to receive the first issue of his new publication, and invitations to attend classes or special events right here in Boston. Meanwhile, I still tune in to the ATK productions which he is still hosting (through the end of the 2016 season).
I’m actually pretty upset about the whole thing! What am I supposed to do? Should I just turn my back on America’s Test Kitchen, skeptical now of their intentions with the property. Should I scorn Kimball’s new venture as though it’s nothing but a tantrum from a spoiled child trying to get out from under the thumb? This to me is the worst part of this whole story. It just causes me to question in a way that I feel like I shouldn’t. As a consumer is it right that such a publicly waged battle should be pulling at our loyalties and maybe even worse causing us to question everything we’ve learned?
It’s weird, but when I’m sitting there reading Kimball’s new magazine, I feel a little guilty as though I’m doing something against my “friends” at ATK, and every time I turn on the TV and there he is hosting the last season of Cooks Country it’s just feels wrong. Don’t get me wrong I love Julia and Bridget, and I’m confident they’ll do a pretty darn good job hosting the the shows, but they just won’t be the same. And though it certainly is too early to come to any real judgment about Milk Street kitchen, Kimball has a long way to go before we know if his new internationally inspired manifesto will provide the same sense of honesty and simplicity for me to continue to cook great meals that my family will enjoy.
So, What Now?
I’m not ready to give up on either of them, at least not just yet. However, if this public tête-à-tête keeps going the way that it has been playing out so far, then don’t be surprised if I, along with perhaps many people out there, just find that we’ve grown weary of it all and search out other places to go.
Surely, in the incredibly crowded food learning industry, there has to be room in the food world for both to continue to offer value and succeed. I realize it may be just one fan boy, and a judge will likely have the final say, but I hope that some equitable resolution can be found that allows both to continue and grow and at the end of the day provide me, and the millions of others out there like me easy to consume content and instruction that ensures I can continue to flourish in the kitchen.
- America’s Test Kitchen Sues Christopher Kimball Over His New Project – Eater
- Christopher Kimball responds to the America’s Test Kitchen lawsuit – The Washington Post