America's Test Kitchen
|America's Test Kitchen|
|Presented by||Christopher Kimball|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||12|
|Running time||27 minutes|
|Original run||January 2001– present|
America's Test Kitchen is a half-hour cooking show distributed to public television stations (reruns airing on Create) in the United States, also airing in Canada. The show's host is Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Christopher Kimball; the show and the magazine are affiliated, and the magazine's test kitchen facility in Brookline, Massachusetts, is used as a set for the show.
Cook's Illustrated's parent company, Boston Common Press, renamed itself America's Test Kitchen in 2004.
A typical episode contains two or three recipes joined by a common theme (e.g., "Quick Tuesday Night Pasta Dinners", "Comfort Food Favorites", "Supermarket Steak Recipes", "Making Chinese Take-Out Dishes"). Each recipe segment opens with Kimball showing the problems inherent in cooking the recipe (e.g., waterlogged pasta dishes with jarred sauces; tough, leathery supermarket steaks that don't hold up well in skillet recipes) or in ordering out for the dish (e.g., overcooked meat in tasteless soy-laden brown sauce with a few vegetables thrown in for a so-called "steak and peppers" Chinese takeout meal), leading up to Kimball urging everyone to "join [featured chef] in the test kitchen as we make [bad recipe] the right way." During the cooking of the recipe, usually at a fairly mundane step of the recipe (e.g., browning onions; baking item for ___ minutes; letting finished dish cool), other segments are shown, usually consisting of two or more of the following:
- A Tasting Lab segment, where an ingredient or prepared food product is run through a tasting panel and then taste-tested by Kimball;
- An Equipment Corner segment, which gives reviews and rankings of kitchen gadgets;
- A periodic "Science Desk" segment, discussing the science behind a pertinent technique used in the recipe;
- A "Quick Tips" segment, inserted as a 15–30 second mock-bumper, to demonstrate tips and tricks from Cooks Illustrated magazine and viewers' mail.
Up through season 6, the show was taped in standard definition, 4:3 video; season 7 saw the show switch to widescreen 16:9 video. The high definition version of the show is shown as part of PBS HD's master digital schedule and, by some PBS affiliates, as part of their normal schedules. Eps: 163
America's Test Kitchen features several recurring cast members, although not every cast member appears in each episode.
- Christopher Kimball, the show's host, introduces the recipes presented in each episode, as well as the equipment tested in the Equipment Corner and foods tested in the Tasting Lab. He also converses and works on-screen with the other cast members during the show's various segments and is the primary presenter in the "Quick Tips" segment.
- Bridget Lancaster, Julia Collin-Davison (identified on-screen before season 7 as "Julia Collin"), Kay Rentschler (season 1 and one episode of season 2 only; by season 2 she had moved to the positions of Culinary Producer and Executive Chef, and then was gone by Season 3), Rebecca "Becky" Hays, Sandra Wu, Yvonne Ruperti, J. Kenji Alt (now J. Kenji Lopez-Alt), and Erika Bruce are the chefs who explain and prepare the recipes in each episode as Kimball watches and comments. Usually only one or two of the chefs will appear in an episode. Hays joined the permanent cast in season 5, Bruce, Wu, and Ruperti each appear for a single season (seasons 5, 6, and 8, respectively), and Alt appears in seasons 7 and 8. All are prominent recipe testers or editors in Cook's Illustrated. Beginning in season 5, Cook's Illustrated staff chefs Hays, Bruce, Jeremy Sauer, and Matthew Card appeared in segments answering common viewer mail questions. Hays, Bruce, and Sauer joined the on-camera cast for season 6; Hays moved into credited cast member status beginning in season 7.
- Jack Bishop appears in most episodes in the Tasting Lab segment. In the Tasting Lab, he describes a tasting panel's opinions on different brands of the food or ingredient in question, as Kimball tastes several of the items blind. After Kimball provides his thoughts on the different varieties, Bishop reveals the brands that Kimball tasted and compares his thoughts to those of the tasting panel. Bishop and Kimball frequently refer to a running joke that Kimball's tastes are often vastly different from the tasting panel's; as an example, in a segment tasting bottled waters, Kimball picked Boston tap water over all the brands of bottled water. Bishop also hosts the Cook's Illustrated podcast.
- Adam Ried appears in most episodes as the host of the Equipment Corner segment. In this segment, he shows several brands of a piece of kitchen equipment and often asks Kimball to use several of the items or eat food prepared with different brands. In the end, he identifies the test kitchen's preferred brand and demonstrates its key features. For particularly expensive items, he often identifies a best buy: an item that was ranked highly but is significantly less expensive than the top brand. Throughout the show's run, items previously tested in other seasons have been retested as technology changes warrant; in season 8, garlic presses were retested due to the failure of the non-stick coating on the previous winning brand after heavy usage, and a new favorite brand was chosen. Occasionally the Equipment Corner segment does not focus on a single piece of equipment; instead, a "buy it/don't buy it" format is used to pick the best items among newer, trendier kitchen gadgets. One of Ried's favorite "buy it" gadgets was a timer that came with its own lanyard so cooks could wear it around their necks and not have to be in visual range of the oven timer; Ried revealed, however, that the timer was normally used to stay one step ahead of local traffic law enforcers by signaling that it was time to feed the meter or move the car.
- John "Doc" Willoughby hosted the Science Desk segment in the show's first two seasons but was gradually phased out during season 3. After he became executive editor of Gourmet magazine, there was no Science Desk segment for two seasons.
- Jeremy Sauer appears periodically in the Science Desk segment, in which he explains the science behind a particular process key to an episode's featured recipe.
- Odd Todd (Todd Rosenberg) designs animations for the Science Desk segment, illustrating such concepts as flambé, brining, marinating vs. dry spice rubs, and whether plastic or wooden cutting boards are better for overall kitchen hygiene. His segments made their debut in season 5 but were replaced by non-animated segments with Jeremy Sauer in season 6. The animations returned for season 7, interspersed with non-animated science segments done by Kimball and Sauer.
- Guy Crosby is the science adviser for America’s Test Kitchen. He began working for Cook’s Illustrated as a consulting editor in early 2005.
- Lisa McManus is a senior editor in charge of equipment testing and ingredient tasting at Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazines. She researches and writes about kitchen gear and food, and she’s the on-screen gadget guru for America’s Test Kitchen. She joined America’s Test Kitchen in 2006, after working as a newspaper food editor and a magazine and newspaper journalist in Boston, New York, and Palo Alto, California.
America's Test Kitchen Video Game
On March 28, 2010, the show's first video game, America's Test Kitchen: Let's Get Cooking was released for the Nintendo DS, featuring 300 recipes. It is also part of a series of cooking games that started with Shaberu! DS Oryōri Navi and Cooking Guide: Can't Decide What to Eat? / Personal Trainer: Cooking.
Magazines, Cookbooks, DVDs, and Television Shows Produced by America's Test Kitchen
- Cook's Illustrated Magazine
- Cook's Country Magazine
- The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
- The New Best Recipe
- Annual Editions of our Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country Magazines
- DVD sets for each season of our television shows
- More than 70 cookbooks and DVD sets from the editors of America's Test Kitchen.
- Cook's Illustrated
- List of America's Test Kitchen episodes
- Cook's Country from America's Test Kitchen
- The Best Recipe
- "Meet the Cast". Boston Common Press. Archived from the original on December 24, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2007.
- America's Test Kitchen: The Full Season 1 (DVD). Boston, Massachusetts: Cook's Illustrated. 2006-10-10.
- "Cook's Illustrated podcast". Retrieved January 31, 2008.
- Friedland, Josh (March 2, 2010). "America's Test Kitchen: The Game". TheFoodSection.com.
- Official website
- America's Test Kitchen at the Internet Movie Database
- Cooks Illustrated
- Cooks Country