America's Test Kitchen

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America's Test Kitchen
America's Test Kitchen logo.png
Genre Cooking
Presented by Julia Collin Davison and Bridget Lancaster [1]
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 16
Producer(s) WGBH, America's Test Kitchen Productions
Location(s) Brookline, Massachusetts
Running time 27 minutes
Distributor American Public Television
Original release January 4, 2001 (2001-01-04) – present
External links

America's Test Kitchen is a half-hour cooking show distributed to public television stations (reruns airing on Create) in the United States, which are also available in most Canadian markets. 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, while retaining its corporate name, has marketed its publishing and media activities under the America's Test Kitchen brand beginning in 2004.

Show format[edit]

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

During recording, 26 recipes are videotaped during a three-week period. Six recipes are recorded per day, and there are two recipes demonstrated per episode.[2]


America's Test Kitchen features several recurring cast members, although not every cast member appears in each episode.[3]

  • Christopher Kimball, the show's former host, introduced 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 conversed and worked on-screen with the other cast members during the show's various segments and is the primary presenter in the "Quick Tips" segment. On November 16, 2015, a news release from Boston Commons Press, parent company of America's Test Kitchen, announced the departure of Christopher Kimball over a contract dispute. The 2016 TV programs had already been filmed and Kimball will appear as host, but his direct participation in the company was ending immediately. He remains a minority stockholder in the closely held company.[4] There had been signs of a dispute between the corporate leadership and Kimball ever since September 2015 when David Nussbaum was appointed from outside the company as CEO, above Kimball.[5]
  • Julia Collin-Davison s host (identified on-screen before season 7 as "Julia Collin"),a Rochester native, is the executive food editor for the book division of America’s Test Kitchen and is an on-screen test cook for America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen. She began working as a test cook for Cook’s Illustrated in 1999 and is responsible for the food and recipe development for all America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks. She holds an A.O.S. degree from the Culinary Institute of America and a B.A. in psychology and philosophy from SUNY Albany. Before coming to America’s Test Kitchen, she worked in Albany, the Berkshires, San Francisco, and the Napa Valley at several restaurants, catering companies, schools, and wineries. Julia resides in Natick, Massachusetts, where she enjoys cooking with her husband, Ian, and her daughter, Marta.[6]
  • Bridget Lancaster Bridget Lancaster is a current host and executive food editor for TV and radio of Cook’s Country magazine, currently responsible for all recipe testing and development in Cook’s Country and an on-screen test cook for America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen.
  • Rebecca "Becky" Hays, Bryan Roof and Dan Souza are the chefs who explain and prepare the recipes in each episode as the host watches and comments. Usually only one or two of the chefs will appear in an episode. Collin-Davison, Lancaster and Rentschler appeared as regular cast members on season 1. Since, Rentschler moved to the positions of Culinary Producer and Executive Chef by season 2 and appeared in only one episode that season, before leaving the show by Season 3.[7] 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. Roof and Souza were added to the regular cast starting season 15.
  • 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.[8]
  • 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; for instance, 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. John "Doc" Willoughby returned to America's Test Kitchen in 2010.[9]
  • 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.[10]
  • 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.[10]

Video game[edit]

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.[11] It is also part of a series of guided-cooking software that started with Shaberu! DS Oryōri Navi and Personal Trainer: Cooking.

Other media productions[12][edit]

  • Cook's Illustrated Magazine
  • Cook's Country Magazine
  • The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
  • The New Best Recipe
  • Annual Editions of Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country Magazines
  • DVD sets for each season of television shows
  • More than 70 cookbooks and DVD sets from the editors of America's Test Kitchen.
  • America's Test Kitchen Radio

See also[edit]


External links[edit]