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Christopher Kimball in the NYT Magazine

Chocolatechipkt Oct 13, 2012 02:09 AM

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/mag...&

  1. s
    sandylc Nov 30, 2012 12:24 PM

    I have never noticed any comments or feedback opportunities on ATK or CC recipes/articles. Perhaps not interested in the thoughts/opinions of others? Hm-mm.

    10 Replies
    1. re: sandylc
      ttoommyy Nov 30, 2012 12:35 PM

      I watch both shows a lot and CK reads letters from viewers on the air some times; some positive and some critical.

      1. re: ttoommyy
        s
        sandylc Nov 30, 2012 12:47 PM

        Yeah, and he makes fun of the critical ones.

        1. re: sandylc
          l
          linus Nov 30, 2012 02:44 PM

          he makes more fun of himself than anybody else.

          1. re: linus
            ttoommyy Nov 30, 2012 04:41 PM

            He certainly does.

          2. re: sandylc
            John E. Nov 30, 2012 04:04 PM

            If you have not seen the feedback from viewers, how could you possibly make a statement such as this? (Unless of cpurse you simply do not care for Christopher Kimball).

            1. re: John E.
              s
              sandylc Nov 30, 2012 05:29 PM

              I was speaking of no opportunity to leave comments on their website recipes.

              The letters he occasionally reads on the show are a different topic.

              I can "possibly" make any statement that I wish to make.

              1. re: sandylc
                John E. Nov 30, 2012 05:34 PM

                I'm certain you can mail them any sort of feedback that you wish to. How could they possibly stop you?

                1. re: John E.
                  s
                  sandylc Nov 30, 2012 05:38 PM

                  Please pardon me for not being clear enough. Many or most food- and recipe-related websites offer a comments section beneath each recipe or column. I was simply observing that I have not seen this feature on ATK or CC, and was offering a mild-mannered speculation about the absence of this feature.

                  I have no beef with you, John....have a happy weekend!

                  1. re: sandylc
                    John E. Nov 30, 2012 05:48 PM

                    Why not send the ATK cooks an e-mail?

                    cooks@americastestkitchen.com

                    1. re: John E.
                      s
                      sandylc Nov 30, 2012 05:57 PM

                      John, I honestly don't care that much. It was just an observation and I am busy with family and holidays....maybe some other time!

      2. j
        John Francis Oct 21, 2012 11:14 PM

        Coming back to where this thread started. Kimball's magazines and TV programs are all about getting fool-proof results to the dining table. Many here have spoken about how they enjoy the process of cooking, and I do too. Kimball says process is not about having fun, it's about getting good and reliably predictable results, and that's the basis of just about everything he publishes. For example this ATK demo of how to cook bacon:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2guC4B...

        Nobody else advises boiling the bacon and cooking it at three different stovetop temperatures as the water boils off, and I'll bet very few people actually do it. It certainly doesn't look like fun! I suppose you might make yourself do it if you agree that the usual result, "dry and crumbly," is a problem you need to solve, and that the result of the ATK process is, in ATK's words, "the Most Perfect Bacon Ever.." Why else would you go through all that?

        Kimball's approach to cooking is unique to him, I believe; I've read or seen nothing like it in any other cookbook, magazine, or show. Though successful enough to sustain a rather impressive media empire, and though he's deliberately provocative in discussing other authors and cooks (which succeeds in getting him talked about - just look at this thread), his approach is really not a threat to any other author or cook. We're free to take what we can use and leave the rest.

        13 Replies
        1. re: John Francis
          roxlet Oct 22, 2012 04:15 AM

          I like the cut of your jib, John Francis. Very nice post.

          Recently, I watched an episode of Cook's Country, and became intrigued by the pulled chicken tacos recipe being made and which was touted as a great, quick, week night dinner. I'm always looking for those.. With the help of some folks on CH, I found the recipe. I followed it to a T, making it exactly the way the recipe said and as I had seen on the TV show. It indubitably was not the best recipe this time -- both my son and my husband feeling that the way I usually make chicken tacos was far better. Neither liked the taste of the chipotles in adobo in this dish. So there you go. The results were not fool-proof, and the dinner went largely uneaten. However, I will say that their recipe for crab cakes, for example, is the finest I have made. With the chicken tacos, I had fun making them because I was trying something I hadn't made before. The results were not good, though I assume that I could reliably get those results if I made that recipe again.

          1. re: John Francis
            l
            linus Oct 22, 2012 04:51 AM

            where does kimball say it's not about having fun? he says it's not glamorous and it's hard work. that is not the same as saying it's not fun.

            i do not find kimball's approach unique. i daresay most if not all recipe publishers/demonstraters test their recipes thoroughly before publishing or demonstrating them. posters earlier in this thread mention others who take a "food science"-type approach to cooking.

            using words like "though successful enough" and "deliberately provocative" are attempts to denigrate his approach and his achievements. maybe he is deliberately provocative, for example, but no one here, including myself, has anyway of knowing that. maybe he believes what he says and he likes to say it.
            why is he not entitled to the benefit of the doubt?

            as far as his approach to cooking being a threat, well, aside from the borgias and maybe sweeney todd, i'd be hard pressed to name how anyone's cooking is a threat to anyone.

            1. re: linus
              ttoommyy Oct 22, 2012 06:19 AM

              "as far as his approach to cooking being a threat, well, aside from the borgias and maybe sweeney todd, i'd be hard pressed to name how anyone's cooking is a threat to anyone."

              Did you ever read Ruth Reichl's "Tender at the Bone" and her accounting of her mother's cooking? :)

              1. re: ttoommyy
                l
                linus Oct 22, 2012 06:37 AM

                good point. i did, actually. ruth seems to have come out o.k.

              2. re: linus
                f
                FED Oct 22, 2012 11:32 AM

                i agree with you for the most part linus, in this and other comments in this wacky thread (it's absolutely amazing how so many people can have such strong, resolute opinions about someone they've never met based on their reading/misreading of a single article). my difference is that most recipe writers and most cookbook writers actually do not thoroughly test their recipes. i don't think you'll talk to any food pro who would disagree with that statement. what chris and the ci folks do is really food porn for the process-oriented ... we enjoy watching them jump through hoops to make these things work, even though we know we'll never do it ourselves (and even though we suspect that the results probably aren't as good as they claim them to be).

                1. re: FED
                  r
                  rasputina Oct 22, 2012 03:39 PM

                  it's absolutely amazing how so many people can have such strong, resolute opinions about someone they've never met based on their reading/misreading of a single article

                  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  I don't think there is one poster in this thread who's only knowledge of Kimball and his brand is the NYT article. Reading the thread it's pretty obvious that the posters here are well acquainted with him/it.

                  1. re: rasputina
                    l
                    linus Oct 22, 2012 04:48 PM

                    i dunno. i've read a lot of, "i don't subscribe to the magazines and don't watch the television shows, but..."

                    people comment on things, make assumptions, draw conclusions. it's human nature, i suppose.

                    1. re: linus
                      drongo Oct 22, 2012 04:59 PM

                      I think most people who have commented DO subscribe and DO watch. Myself included (subscriber in print and online).

                    2. re: rasputina
                      f
                      FED Oct 22, 2012 05:11 PM

                      i think if you read my comment closely, it was about the "person" not the "product". there's a difference, right?

                      1. re: rasputina
                        ttoommyy Oct 22, 2012 06:59 PM

                        Ok. The article and a half hour tv program. Yeah, that tells us a lot about him. Its like people commenting on movie stars: we draw our conclusions about them from the slanted press we read. Unless one of us on this board has actually met CK and spent some time with him, then most of this whole thread is really speculation.

                        1. re: ttoommyy
                          s
                          sandylc Oct 22, 2012 07:09 PM

                          You, know, you really are right here. Especially since the indication is that CK is actually playing a character, which is perfectly acceptable - after all, it's television.

                          However, humans are blessed with a thing called intuition. Not all of our decision-making, thank goodness, is reliant upon facts. There are numerous ways that we make decisions beyond cold facts, such as observance of facial expressions, tone of voice, clothing/car/etc. choices, and pure raw instinct. I think these things may be at play here.

                          1. re: sandylc
                            l
                            linus Oct 23, 2012 04:31 AM

                            "observance of facial expressions, tone of voice, clothing/car/etc. choices"

                            i think you're right about this. i also think many won't cop to it.

                      2. re: FED
                        The Dairy Queen Oct 23, 2012 06:40 AM

                        I agree that most recipes in cookbooks are not adequately tested. I don't think many cookbook reviewers test recipes, either. And, if they do, it's often the one recipe that the publisher releases to everyone "with permission" so that's going to be one that they know works.

                        ~TDQ

                  2. s
                    Snorkelvik Oct 19, 2012 09:53 AM

                    I didn't appreciate the dis to Ina Garten in the 2nd 'graph. Her recipes are simple, well--tested and flavorful. Why the hate? I'm not sure if the writer chose her to illustrate Kimball's point or if he's paraphrasing Kimball.

                    And nothing makes Kimball angrier than the aspirational pipe dreams marketed by the likes of Ina Garten and Bon Appétit. “I hate the idea that cooking should be a celebration or a party,” Kimball told me over a bowl of chicken-and-vegetable soup at his regular lunch haunt, a Brookline, Mass., pub called Matt Murphy’s. “Cooking is about putting food on the table night after night, and there isn’t anything glamorous about it.”

                    48 Replies
                    1. re: Snorkelvik
                      LindaWhit Oct 19, 2012 11:09 AM

                      “Cooking is about putting food on the table night after night, and there isn’t anything glamorous about it.”
                      ~~~~~~~~~

                      I read this as the antithesis of a Chowhound and the old CH motto: Live to Eat! He eats to live, in as structured a way as possible. He doesn't seem to find pleasure in the preparation of food, and the sometimes sensual nature that food can offer. Unless his pleasure is garnered in telling everyone the exact way something should be prepared.

                      1. re: LindaWhit
                        l
                        linus Oct 19, 2012 02:44 PM

                        it is baffling to me anyone could read the magazines or watch the television shows and think he doesn't find pleasure in cooking or eating.

                        the entire idea behind the shows and the magazines is to put better quality food on the table.

                        1. re: linus
                          roxlet Oct 19, 2012 03:52 PM

                          “I hate the idea that cooking should be a celebration or a party,” Kimball told me over a bowl of chicken-and-vegetable soup at his regular lunch haunt, a Brookline, Mass., pub called Matt Murphy’s. “Cooking is about putting food on the table night after night, and there isn’t anything glamorous about it.”

                          1. re: roxlet
                            l
                            linus Oct 19, 2012 04:03 PM

                            how is not thinking cooking is glamorous lead to thinking he doesn't like eating or preparing food?
                            i bet there are a lot of cooks, professional and non, who don't find cooking very glamorous, yet still enjoy it.
                            how is not thinking cooking is a celebration or party mean he doesn't enjoy it?
                            maybe he likes cooking on his own, in the quiet. i bet there are a lot of people who feel that way.

                            just because someone views the cooking of food differently than the heavily edited versions you normally see on t.v. and in magazines doesn't mean they don't enjoy it.

                            it's fine to have different opinions than those expressed by kimball in one article. but, the quotations cited don't match the conclusions drawn.

                            1. re: roxlet
                              Mr Taster Oct 19, 2012 04:26 PM

                              It sounds to me like what he finds disdainful is the recent sexy hipster trendiness surrounding chefs and food.

                              It's the scene which is responsible for egos and pretense and "glamor", which is what Kimball eschews. He's a proponent of simple food made well, without the fuss and the scene. Think more Julia Child, less Gordon Ramsay.

                              Mr Taster

                              1. re: Mr Taster
                                l
                                linus Oct 19, 2012 04:28 PM

                                i had been wondering if you put kimball's thoughts, words and actions in a man thirty years younger, gave him a long beard and some tattoos and based him and his business out of williamsburg (or portland, etc.) if people would perceive him and what he does differently.

                                1. re: linus
                                  LindaWhit Oct 19, 2012 04:33 PM

                                  No, I wouldn't. Hipster crap doesn't entice either. I don't like someone telling me that their way is the ONLY way to make a dish.

                                  1. re: LindaWhit
                                    l
                                    linus Oct 19, 2012 05:06 PM

                                    "we don't make the ultimate anything. were they the world's best burgers -- no, probably not. but if you get food on the table, and it works, we've done our jobs."

                                    -- christopher kimball.

                                  2. re: linus
                                    Mr Taster Oct 19, 2012 04:38 PM

                                    What a great point. You're probably right on the mark with that perception, linus.

                                    Mr Taster

                                    1. re: linus
                                      d
                                      debbiel Oct 21, 2012 06:29 AM

                                      The Hipster angle would increase the odds that I never even bother to read what he has to say.

                                  3. re: roxlet
                                    LindaWhit Oct 19, 2012 04:31 PM

                                    “I hate the idea that cooking should be a celebration or a party,” Kimball told me over a bowl of chicken-and-vegetable soup at his regular lunch haunt, a Brookline, Mass., pub called Matt Murphy’s. “Cooking is about putting food on the table night after night, and there isn’t anything glamorous about it.”
                                    ~~~~~~~~~~~

                                    Thank you, roxlet.

                                    1. re: LindaWhit
                                      roxlet Oct 19, 2012 05:06 PM

                                      And thank you, LindaWhit. Cooking, for me, is a joy and a pleasure.

                                      My interpretation of that remark is that he thinks cooking is drudgery. Some may have a different interpretation of that remark, which is fine. I won't convince you otherwise, and you won't convince me, so let's just leave it at that. As my 16 year-old says, oh, so eloquently, "Whatever."

                                      1. re: roxlet
                                        LindaWhit Oct 19, 2012 05:24 PM

                                        Exactly, roxlet. I go back to the Chowhound motto: Live to Eat. Whereas Mr. Kimball eats to live. That is *my* opinion of the situation.

                                        1. re: LindaWhit
                                          l
                                          linus Oct 19, 2012 05:34 PM

                                          i think mr. kimball enjoys eating. and i've got a bunch of magazines and many hours of television to back that up.

                                        2. re: roxlet
                                          c
                                          carbonaraboy Oct 21, 2012 02:43 AM

                                          Have you ever stopped to think that the simple act of putting nicely prepared food on the table night after night can be joyful? It is the joy of the craftsperson, not the artist.

                                          I do think cooking is a creative process, some days more than others, but I'm glad Kimball said what he did. I find it refreshing.

                                          1. re: carbonaraboy
                                            f
                                            FED Oct 22, 2012 11:25 AM

                                            amen to that. thank you for putting it so well.

                                          2. re: roxlet
                                            d
                                            debbiel Oct 21, 2012 06:35 AM

                                            I read it the same way roxlet: cooking as drudgery. There are two tried and true strategies for me to lift my mood: take a walk in a park or woods or go into the kitchen and cook. And simple cooking works.

                                          3. re: LindaWhit
                                            d
                                            debbiel Oct 21, 2012 06:30 AM

                                            SHOULD be a celebration, perhaps not. But can be. And that doesn't mean tablescapes or hard to source ingredients or a menu in the form of a thesis on the lives of the animals or a hipster guest list. It can simply mean taking joy in preparing sustenance for self and others.

                                            Glamorous? Nope, not for me. Enjoyable and positive, for me, yes.

                                      2. re: LindaWhit
                                        John E. Oct 19, 2012 05:37 PM

                                        I think Kimball is referring to the daily grind of putting meals on the table during the week after working a long day. We don't often have glamorous food during the week. I understand what Kimball was attempting to say. I think some here, maybe or maybe not you Linda, are letting their dislike for CK to get in the way of things. (I still don't understand how this guy can get people so stirred up. If someone doe not like him, his recipes, his TV shows or magazines, then don't subscride, watch, or cook his food).

                                        1. re: John E.
                                          l
                                          linus Oct 19, 2012 05:44 PM

                                          what i don't understand is the assertion you can't enjoy something with no glamour or celebration attached.
                                          it's like saying you can't enjoy playing the saxophone unless you're doing it standing next to bruce springsteen.

                                          1. re: John E.
                                            LindaWhit Oct 19, 2012 07:40 PM

                                            John, I don't choose to subscribe to his magazines, watch his shows, or cook his food. And so many others throughout this thread have given other reasons as to why they don't agree with Kimball's premises or methods, and I happen agree with them.

                                            I'm probably one of the last people to go "glamorous" with food that I cook, regardless if it's weeknight or on weekends. But many of Kimball's and CI's methods for preparations of dishes are *way* more time consuming than anyone would wish to do on any night. It's the "my way and no way else" that CI and Kimball put out there that grates on me and many others.

                                            My perception of him and what he writes/wrote is different than how some others view him. That is pretty much it. ::::Shrug:::

                                            1. re: LindaWhit
                                              SWISSAIRE Oct 20, 2012 10:18 PM

                                              A comment from Europe.

                                              My wife and I lived in California for a number of years. We did not know much about American food, and saw and subscribed to CI.

                                              The magazine was infomative to new foods we hadn't experienced before, and a few we wanted to learn to make. More importantly was the exposure to new American cooking equipment, the good, and the bad. American advertising is second to none, and the CI gave us a good, honest test of this equipment, distingushing cooking fact from fiction.

                                              In fact we could visualize the people demonstrating celebrity cookware in North America crossing themselves, and then groaning when the lastest CI magazine tore into the advertized virtues of the cookware item with an absolute zero score. It must be fun to do that.

                                              Both of those attributes we enjoyed and appreciated. But some menus and cooking items we would never be using. My wife and I have never made brownies for example, and some cooking items suggested we felt would be better purchased in Europe, given warranties and possible repair.

                                              Mr. Kimball to me is a fine example of a Yankee, meant in a nice, friendly, East Coast Old American way. In fact, that was another magazine we liked and subscribed to missing our Fall and Winters back home. Mr. Kimball looks and plays the part with the bow tie. Unlike some of the other celebrity chefs in North America, I think he is 100% real, and his critical and brutally honest views of recipes and cookware would be appreciated in Switzerland, Austria, the South Tirol, and Germany. He obviously suffers no fools, as the NYT article illustrates..

                                              If you did not have CI, nor Mr. Kimball's drive and stern dedication, you might only have Consumer Reports, which we felt stressed that fact that the reader HAD to at least buy something. CI under Mr.Kimball, is infomative as his television shows and online videos are.

                                              He will probably never review the products we use here being too expensive, nor perhaps enjoy a 3 star restaurant course in France, but for American recipes and techniques he remains a classic.

                                              1. re: SWISSAIRE
                                                ttoommyy Oct 21, 2012 05:41 AM

                                                Well stated SWISSAIRE.

                                                1. re: SWISSAIRE
                                                  s
                                                  sandylc Oct 21, 2012 09:26 AM

                                                  SWISSAIRE, you make a number of excellent points, but you did lose me when you said that he is 100% real. One of the consistent threads I see in the article is that his on-air persona is a character, not his real personality.

                                                2. re: LindaWhit
                                                  John E. Oct 21, 2012 08:31 AM

                                                  Ok, I get that you don't like him, his shows, his magazines, or anything else about him. I just don't understand so many people seem to care so much about him. I just don't understand how he can generate so much angst in people. He seems pretty benign to me. I was not aware that he could force anyone to follow his recipes.

                                                  1. re: John E.
                                                    d
                                                    debbiel Oct 21, 2012 08:47 AM

                                                    Where is the angst? Voicing opinions about his work or quotes is demonstrating angst? I don't think so. I think it's discussion about differing interpretations of his work, differing opinions of his message.

                                                    1. re: debbiel
                                                      LindaWhit Oct 21, 2012 09:14 AM

                                                      Exactly. Some people don't like him or the "this is the best way to make this recipe" premise. And some do. We're all viewing this differently, and voicing our opinions and our own views.

                                                      1. re: LindaWhit
                                                        s
                                                        sandylc Oct 21, 2012 11:08 AM

                                                        People around here will likely tell you that I seriously resent his assumptive statements that all cookies should be soft and chewy.

                                                        1. re: sandylc
                                                          r
                                                          rasputina Oct 21, 2012 09:23 PM

                                                          LOL I felt the same way when I watched an episode where they did a Thanksgiving turkey and proclaimed that of course you didn't want any smoke flavor with it. I rolled my eyes. We smoke our turkeys every year.

                                                        2. re: LindaWhit
                                                          Mr Taster Oct 21, 2012 11:22 AM

                                                          LindaWhit, not accurate.

                                                          "This is the best way we've found to make this recipe based on Internet recipes and our own past efforts" is accurate.

                                                          Huge difference.

                                                          Mr Taster

                                                          1. re: Mr Taster
                                                            LindaWhit Oct 21, 2012 11:59 AM

                                                            We'll have to agree to disagree, Mr. Taster.

                                                            1. re: LindaWhit
                                                              Mr Taster Oct 21, 2012 12:06 PM

                                                              If you read the lengthy articles dissecting the process they went through to develop their recipes, you'll see what I describe is not arbitrary or one off occurrence. It's how they operate. As a casual observer or reader I can see how one might reach your conclusion, but it is not factually accurate.

                                                              Mr Taster

                                                              1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                d
                                                                debbiel Oct 21, 2012 12:07 PM

                                                                I subscribed to (and read cover to cover) Cooks Illustrated for about 7 years. And I agree with Linda on this one.

                                                                1. re: debbiel
                                                                  Mr Taster Oct 21, 2012 12:24 PM

                                                                  If someone says "I make the best deviled eggs", you can either interpret it as joyful exuberance or enthusiasm. You can also interpret it as "what an arrogant prick. Who is he to say his deviled eggs are better than mine?" Well, he never said anything about your eggs sucking. You've implied that. And even if he said, "I've tasted lots of terrible deviled eggs and these are the best" it would be a mistake to read this personally. Generally people talk about themselves. This is likely more about the chefs enthusiasm for his craft, not about how much you suck.

                                                                  I suppose this could come down to a matter of what one brings to the discussion. You are reading the non verbal cues differently than me. They do criticize bad recipes, but that doesn't mean they're criticizing all recipes except theirs. You bring that to the party.

                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                    s
                                                                    sandylc Oct 21, 2012 12:36 PM

                                                                    The problem with your logic here is that one of the main points of the article is that Mr. Kimball finds no joy or enthusiasm in food or cooking.

                                                                    1. re: sandylc
                                                                      l
                                                                      linus Oct 21, 2012 05:06 PM

                                                                      having read the article, and the magazines, and watched the t.v. show, i think the opposite is true.
                                                                      the author of the article certainly stated no such thing.

                                                                      1. re: sandylc
                                                                        Mr Taster Oct 21, 2012 08:46 PM

                                                                        The problem with your logic is that you're assuming Chris Kimball is the one developing the recipes and doing the cooking!

                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                      2. re: Mr Taster
                                                                        d
                                                                        debbiel Oct 21, 2012 12:42 PM

                                                                        From Cook's Illustrated Facebook page:
                                                                        Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most-foolproof recipe.

                                                                        I think interpreting this to mean that they believe they are posting the best recipes is fairly reasonable.

                                                                        1. re: debbiel
                                                                          l
                                                                          linus Oct 21, 2012 05:11 PM

                                                                          again, from the article, which now seems to carry the import of the torah, the koran, the magna carta and the u.s. constitution rolled into one:

                                                                          "we don't make the ultimate anything." -- christopher kimball.

                                                                          1. re: debbiel
                                                                            John E. Oct 21, 2012 06:12 PM

                                                                            I wonder what is so wrong with Kimball believing he has the best recipe(s)?

                                                                            1. re: John E.
                                                                              d
                                                                              debbiel Oct 21, 2012 07:01 PM

                                                                              I was simply countering Mr. Taster's apparent insistence that Kimball does not purport to be making the best. That is the reason I posted the language from CI's facebook page.

                                                                              Some of us don't care for him, CI, the general attitude/approach that WE READ into it all. Some of you seem to like him, CI, and the general attitude/approach that YOU READ into it all. We are, of course, talking opinions. I didn't really get annoyed on this thread until what I interpreted as insistence that some opinions were somehow factually inaccurate.

                                                                              Part of why I don't care for the test/retest/"perfect" approach in the magazine (as much as I enjoyed reading through the process at times): I think it sends the message that putting food on the table night after night has to be a pain in the ass. That little details make all the difference in the world. I think it can intimidate people. I'd like to see folks less afraid of their kitchens. In my opinion, CI works against that.

                                                                              1. re: debbiel
                                                                                John E. Oct 21, 2012 08:46 PM

                                                                                I don't subscribe to CK's magazines or websites. I subscribed to Cook's Illustrated once for a year at a deep discount. A couple other times I got a free issue and had no trouble cancelling the subscription. I have watched most of the ATK and CC television programs. I learmed a lot of cooking techniques from watching the TV programs. I have also seen a lot of techniques that I don't use, and tastings and equipment testings at which I have scoffed.  (“Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.”) 

                                                                                I suppose there are maybe a half dozen of CK's recipes that have made it into our rotation of meals. (Chicken enchiladas, stove-top roasted chicken, raspberry chiffon pie, Tennessee Whiskey Pork Chops, and maybe a cookie recipe or two, but we have not made cookies in a long time).

                                                                                My only point on this thread is, why does it seem that so many people CARE what Chris Kimball says or does? I understand that people have a right to their opinions, but I just do not understand why Christopher Kimball generates so much animosity. He seems quite benign to me. After reading the NYT story my reaction is more like "wow, he created a company with annual revenues in excess of $50 million"?

                                                                          2. re: Mr Taster
                                                                            d
                                                                            debbiel Oct 21, 2012 07:02 PM

                                                                            Somehow I just noticed that you seem to think that I think that Kimball is telling me that my dishes suck. Or that someone else's dishes suck. But I never said anything of the sort. So no, I didn't "bring that to the party."

                                                                      3. re: LindaWhit
                                                                        roxlet Oct 21, 2012 12:24 PM

                                                                        It's the best way THEY'VE found, but not necessarily the best way for everyone, hence the difference of opinion, which is a difference of semantics at this point. I find some of their recipes are reliable and very good, and even though it's the best recipe THEY'VE found, I like my meatballs better, for example, so it is not the best recipe for me.

                                                                        1. re: roxlet
                                                                          Mr Taster Oct 21, 2012 12:36 PM

                                                                          It's not semantics... It's a critical distinction. But I agree with everything else you've just said.

                                                                          Mr Taster

                                                                          1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                            l
                                                                            linus Oct 21, 2012 05:07 PM

                                                                            does not everyone who publishes a recipe or demonstrates one on the t.v. believe this is the best recipe they've found for _____?
                                                                            do people really think when jacques pepin demonstrates a recipe for ____, he's really saying, "well, here's a recipe, there are a lot better ones out there, but i couldn't be bothered to show them to you."?
                                                                            aren't kimball and his crew saying,, "here's our best effort at _____. if you follow the recipe, you should get the same results we did."?

                                                                            again, if kimball and co. have a recipe for sauteed scallops, do people really think kimball thinks his are better than, say, eric ripert's?

                                                                            1. re: linus
                                                                              s
                                                                              sandylc Oct 21, 2012 05:24 PM

                                                                              linus, fess up.... you ARE Christopher Kimball, aren't you?

                                                                              1. re: sandylc
                                                                                l
                                                                                linus Oct 21, 2012 06:05 PM

                                                                                nope, i'm way too sensitive. kimball is smart enough not to give a hoot what the keyboard warriors say about him.

                                                      2. j
                                                        jarona Oct 17, 2012 06:08 PM

                                                        Thank you for the link. I printed out the article and read it last night. Kimball is an extremely sharp business man. He also grew up very privileged--it doesn't surprise me he has that smug prep schooled air about him--lol! That being said, he just doesn't come across as sincere about what he does--on the surface, perhaps, but he is all about the greenbacks.
                                                        The amazing is the "Cooks" cookbooks offer some really good recipes and techniques. I absolutely despise all the marketing gimmicks and nickel and diming. I stopped subscribing to Cooks Illustrated because I was sick of the constant emails and the fact you cannot go online and get a recipe without having to subscribe to something. Ugh.
                                                        In addition, I DO think that cooking and food should be a celebration. It isn't a chore. To me, it is always a pleasure to celebrate anything--even just a great day at work, with a great meal.
                                                        He really is so smug and arrogant. The article was a great read, though.

                                                        1. j
                                                          j8715 Oct 17, 2012 08:12 AM

                                                          the NYT mag writer makes working for Kimball sound like "The Devil Wears Prada".

                                                          1. al b. darned Oct 16, 2012 12:41 PM

                                                            That was a very interesting article. Thanks for the link Chocolatechipkt. It had some interesting insights on the behind the scenes activities of Kimball's empire. And also served to reinforce what I like and dislike about it.

                                                            In my opinion, there's a lot to like about Cook's Illustrated and ATK. But there is also a lot that I don't care for. I not only value the amount of research that goes into the recipes and their equipment tests, but the fact they explain it to us mere mortals in terms we understand. The amount of work that went into trying to discover how to make the perfect soft-boiled egg was staggering… especially if they eventually fail (which is sound like they might).

                                                            However…
                                                            >>>
                                                            Namely that they 1) are haunted by a fear of humiliation, and 2) will not follow a recipe to the letter, believing that slavishly following directions is an implicit admission that you cannot cook."
                                                            <<<

                                                            I must hang around with the wrong home cooks, because I have never met anyone with those two innermost psychologies. In my own case, I like what I cook and if you don't like it, that just means that more for me. Maybe I just surround myself with better friends (or better home cooks) but none of them have ever shown any fear of humiliation. If someone takes themselvesI so seriously that a failed dish makes them to feel humiliated, maybe they need to switch to decaf.

                                                            As for the second one, I only slavishly follow directions if I like what that be what they are. For example, if a recipe calls for chili flakes, I will leave them out because DW doesn't care for them. Besides, a friend of mine, who was a CEC, once told me, "Cook by ear and bake by the book." That advice has served me well for the better part of 30 years.

                                                            There is somewhat of an arrogant assumption that they're going to save us from ourselves. There also a bit of a contradiction. Why do they need, for example, eight iterations of meatloaf if the first one was already the best recipe?

                                                            I, too, have issues with CK. While I've never watched the show or seen his "act," I am put off by his portrayal of himself and the down-home country boy, when in fact he had a very privileged suburban upbringing and lives a pretty upscale life. Don't get me wrong. I don't begrudge him any of that. I respect the fact that he's a hard-working perfectionist who knows what he wants, and expects the same from his staff/employees. No, I don't think he should flaunt his success (which he does not do), but, IMO, he should just leave the, "I'm just a country boy" part out.

                                                            Full disclosure: though I no longer subscribe to the dead tree editions of Cook's Illustrated or Cook's Country, I maintain an annual subscription to CI dot com.

                                                            Having said all that… it seems that those of us commenting here in the minority. Lots and lots of people *have* bought into CK's act, and even more have (literally) bought into his publishing empire. And that "premium content" option on the website we all whined about here a couple of years ago… well, it's still an option so somebody must be paying for it. I guess that's why he drives Maserati and most of us here, I would venture to guess, don't.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: al b. darned
                                                              d
                                                              Dcfoodblog Oct 16, 2012 01:05 PM

                                                              Interesting about people's perception of Kimball's persona. I've always thought of him as some persnickety, patrician, professor. He's constantly talking about some exotic vacation he's taken and what i see is a Martha Stewart/Ina Garten Lifestyle. I would have never labeled him as down home in any sense. .

                                                              1. re: Dcfoodblog
                                                                Mr Taster Oct 16, 2012 01:34 PM

                                                                What's funny is how his on-camera chefs tease him for not taking them along on his food research vacations. I've long suspected there's more to this interchange than just good-natured ribbing.

                                                                Mr Taster

                                                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                  f
                                                                  FED Oct 16, 2012 02:14 PM

                                                                  undoubtedly. my guess is that very few of them are multimillionaires.

                                                                2. re: Dcfoodblog
                                                                  al b. darned Oct 16, 2012 09:58 PM

                                                                  >>>
                                                                  I would have never labeled him as down home in any sense. .
                                                                  <<<
                                                                  You may not, but but he does. Read his columns in CI and you'd think he was just small time Vermont farmer. Again, part of the act. "Many readers assume that Kimball is from Vermont — he writes often that he grew up there —..." Nothing could be farther from the truth.

                                                              2. h
                                                                henmonster Oct 16, 2012 12:21 PM

                                                                Hmmm... no doubt, cooking is hard work. And definitely hard work if that IS your work/profession - where consistency and customer approval make or break your way of life. But to say there's no creativity or artistry in it ignores the notion that there is a myriad of reasons why folks start cooking in the first place. Not all of us do it for sustenance or to perfect a burger. Some do it because it's the only place they can control an entire process and enjoy the product -- where they can implement all of their skills and ideas - for better or for worse. AND -- if it is hard work as he asserts, one should celebrate the fruits of his/her labor - especially if it's successful. And if he scoffs at joie de vivre behavior such as flowers, crowded tables and clinking glasses -- TERRIFIC. I'd hate to waste a glass of St. Emillion on such a bore.

                                                                1. John E. Oct 16, 2012 11:54 AM

                                                                  I think we subscribed to Cook's Illustrated for a single year about ten years ago and have bought them off the rack a few times since. I enjoy watching both television shows and a few of the recipes have made it into the rotation. As I mentioned on another thread, Bridget's 'uptalking' on the show is annoying but most of the stuff mentioned on this thread doesn't bother me. What I don't get is how Christopher Kimball can generate so much animosity from people? I just don't understand why something as benign as a couple of magazines and TV shows can raise so much emotion.

                                                                  1. Mr Taster Oct 15, 2012 03:41 PM

                                                                    I'd like to add one additional thing.

                                                                    A lot of home cooks seem to have a problem with the authoritarian element to CI.

                                                                    Joe the Home Cook says, "Who are these fools to tell me that their pumpkin bread is better than mine?"

                                                                    Well, I'll tell you, Joe.

                                                                    I know you love to cook. That's indisputable. The difference is, they're professionally trained chefs, not enthusiastic home cooks. They have had a different level of exposure to food and technique, a different breadth of experience, than the typical home enthusiast has had.

                                                                    Bear in mind, Joe, this is in no way meant to disavow your considerable cooking acumen. I'm sure your chicken fricasee is spectacular. But in this world of ignorant but enthusiastic self-styled "experts"-- there is value in knowing that the CI staff actually *are* experts.

                                                                    I'm there to learn from them-- not to be their friend or peer. I don't have a problem with a teacher being authoritarian, as long as they actually know what they're talking about, and the CI team most definitely does.

                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                      s
                                                                      saticoy Oct 15, 2012 05:44 PM

                                                                      Mr. Taster, I totally get your point, and I don't mean to be contentious, but I just have to disagree. They are trying to perfect home cooking - which has arguably been perfected, to a diverse standard of perfection, many times before. It is the authoritative statement that these professionally trained chefs can perfect a recipe invented and perpetuated by home cooks, that I find ridiculous.

                                                                      1. re: saticoy
                                                                        ritabwh Oct 15, 2012 08:22 PM

                                                                        i sense alot of authority "issues" here!
                                                                        :-))

                                                                        1. re: saticoy
                                                                          Mr Taster Oct 15, 2012 08:47 PM

                                                                          Actually I think what is brilliant about CI is the very fact that humble comfort food like bread pudding can be elevated to a level beyond the scope of most cooks. (seriously, if you have any interest at all in bread pudding, you have to make their recipe with the bourbon sauce)

                                                                          It is like having a professional chef tweak your home recipes. Who else does that? None that I know of.

                                                                          Mr Taster

                                                                          1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                            f
                                                                            FED Oct 16, 2012 11:50 AM

                                                                            the thing that's brilliant about CI is that they've written essentially the same 4 articles for more than 20 years, featuring recipes that are haute presbyterian and still have 1 million subscribers paying full rate for them. i read it every month, too. half of the time I find myself arguing with it, 25% of the time it confirms what I already believed and maybe 25% of the time I actually find something i want to try for myself. but i'm always engaged by it. and that's the mark of a great magazine.

                                                                            1. re: FED
                                                                              cowboyardee Oct 16, 2012 12:43 PM

                                                                              You've summed up CI's appeal fairly well. There are a lot of things you can (and I do) hold against CI. But lack of a distinct point of view certainly isn't one of them.

                                                                            2. re: Mr Taster
                                                                              ipsedixit Oct 16, 2012 02:12 PM

                                                                              Actually I think what is brilliant about CI is the very fact that humble comfort food like bread pudding can be elevated to a level beyond the scope of most cooks.
                                                                              _______________________

                                                                              This pretty much sums up CI.

                                                                              It is nothing more; nothing less.

                                                                          2. re: Mr Taster
                                                                            s
                                                                            sandylc Oct 19, 2012 09:22 PM

                                                                            I think that there is a wide range of talent and experience in both the professional chef field and also in the home cook arena; I also think that there is more overlap between the two than most would realize.

                                                                          3. Mr Taster Oct 15, 2012 02:06 PM

                                                                            Great article. It syncs up with virtually everything I ever suspected about the guy. Arrogant? Check. Fussy? Triple check. But it takes someone with those personal characteristics to churn out the kind of meticulous recipes that he does.

                                                                            Here's the thing. It's not just that CI's recipes are clever or ingenious (though the techniques they develop many times are-- vodka pie crust, I'm looking at you).

                                                                            It's that when you sit down to read a CI recipe, all the ambiguity in the language has been vetted. How many times has an amateur internet recipe, for example, mentioned taking the lid off the pot when they never told you when to put it on in the first place? Or whether you're supposed to use a 1/4 cup of minced herbs, or a 1/4 cup of herbs which you then mince? There is a precision to the language that never leaves the reader wondering, "is it this way or that way?" When you're learning to cook, as I was when I first subscribed in 2006, you need to know these answers.

                                                                            I loved knowing not just that something worked-- that the oven roasted broccoli browned with a sprinkling of sugar, that the 93% lean ground beef didn't toughen up when treated with baking soda, or that the pie dough didn't get tough because of the vodka-- but I learned that the Maillard reaction boosted the flavor of my broccoli, that the base treatment of baking soda with the amino acids in protein combine to dissolve the bonds holding proteins together (thus tenderizing the meat), and that the vodka inhibited gluten development. For a scientifically minded, curious cook, that information is outrageously valuable, endlessly interesting, and know of no other periodical that offers this kind of consistently innovative culinary thinking.

                                                                            So, Chris, keep writing those horrible editorials. Stay pompous, fussy and insecure. You're not my friend, and I probably wouldn't like you personally. But you publish one hell of a cooking magazine, and my life would be worse without your influence.

                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                              drongo Oct 15, 2012 04:09 PM

                                                                              The writing is not ambiguous. But I find it excessively verbose.

                                                                              1. re: drongo
                                                                                Mr Taster Oct 15, 2012 08:39 PM

                                                                                Are you talking about my writing or Chris Kimball's? :-)

                                                                                Mr Taster

                                                                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                  drongo Oct 16, 2012 06:05 PM

                                                                                  I thought that would be my personal private joke........ very perceptive, Mr Taster.

                                                                              2. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                ritabwh Oct 15, 2012 08:20 PM

                                                                                i am a charter subsriber to the resurrected CI way back when. i liked the crisp no nonsense approach. i appreciated the assumption that the readers knew how to cook, and understood the various failures mentioned in the recipe. i would tell friends CI was about technique. i agree that lately CI has become incredibly fussy, as i noticed in the few asian recipes. but i still manage to pick up a few tips and tricks.

                                                                                btw, i give a gift of cook's country subscription to young newlyweds.

                                                                              3. j
                                                                                judybird Oct 15, 2012 02:02 PM

                                                                                We subscribed to the magazine for a couple of years, seduced by the look and the gorgeous covers. What finally turned me off completely was the thesis behind every article - "Nobody has ever made a perfect (....) before. We'll show you how."

                                                                                Although some of their recipes were pretty good, and I did like their reviews of cookware, I just couldn't abide that incredibly superior tone any longer.

                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                1. re: judybird
                                                                                  Mr Taster Oct 15, 2012 02:48 PM

                                                                                  >> What finally turned me off completely was the thesis behind every article - "Nobody has ever made a perfect (....) before. We'll show you how.

                                                                                  But to be fair, they have baked that (....) in literally 100 different ways, changing variables (ingredients/cooking times/etc) in a measured, methodical manner, before reaching that conclusion. After doing that kind of labor intensive work, I think they're entitled to tout their findings.

                                                                                  Not many of us can claim to be that dedicated to researching a recipe.

                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                    s
                                                                                    saticoy Oct 15, 2012 05:40 PM

                                                                                    Yes, but "perfect" is subjective, and the premise that their method/technique/recipe is absolutely perfect, for all iterations of perfection, is ridiculous. Plus, in this article, didn't they seem to be searching for a recipe that requires a substantial change? It isn't worth doing the recipe unless they can put an ATK imprint on it. That seems to subvert their "mission" to "perfect" food.

                                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                      d
                                                                                      Dcfoodblog Oct 16, 2012 01:00 PM

                                                                                      I agree that their process for recipe design is the most thorough and extensive I've ever seen. My challenge with them is that they really don't think about things like clean up and prep. Their pumpkin pie recipe requires you whisk the diary in on bowl, heat the pumpkin and spices in another and then strain the whole pumpkin mixture in a sieve before combining with the dairy mixture. On top of cleaning a food processor and the board and measuring cups for the crust, you will need to clean the sauce pan, bowl, whisk, a sieve. That's a whole lot of clean up for one pie.

                                                                                      1. re: Dcfoodblog
                                                                                        cowboyardee Oct 16, 2012 01:26 PM

                                                                                        "I agree that their process for recipe design is the most thorough and extensive I've ever seen."
                                                                                        _________
                                                                                        Read Kenji Lopez-Alt's contributions over at seriouseats.com, or leaf through Modernist Cuisine, or catch up on some of the stuff that Heston Blumenthal has put out (especially the Fat Duck Cookbook and "In Search of Perfection"). And though he doesn't develop recipes as much, Harold McGee's writings are often in the same vein, and more detailed.

                                                                                        There are others beside CI out there with a very analytical take on cooking, and frankly I think those I mentioned above do a better and more thorough job of it. CI's mission statement is more narrow - to take foods that American home cooks are already well familiar with and apply testing and analysis to improve recipes in such a way that does not require any equipment, techniques, stipulations, or (generally) ingredients that Kimball deems unusual or excessive. In other words, to help home cooks improve what they already make without buying unfamiliar equipment or inconveniencing themselves in any major way (besides a little extra prep or clean up).

                                                                                        There's value in that. I'm not arguing otherwise. But CI is by no means the only voice in detailed, analytical recipe development.

                                                                                        BTW, I understand that most of your post was about CI ignoring the convenience factor - in that case you might not want to look into Blumenthal and the others I mentioned above. IMO, CI actually makes a lot of concessions to convenience compared to other recipe developers who are focused on improving ones results. There are few perfect recipes where what produces the best flavor and texture also are the easiest to do, use the least equipment, and use the least expensive ingredients. A few, yes, but more often than not, something's gotta give.

                                                                                        1. re: Dcfoodblog
                                                                                          Mr Taster Oct 16, 2012 01:30 PM

                                                                                          CI is not out to make extra work (like dishwishing) for the home cook, just for the sake of it. I've cooked plenty of their recipes that intentionally seek to consolidate steps into one or two pans. The authors of these recipes seem to be mindful of this.

                                                                                          But they certainly are not afraid to dirty an extra pan if it contributes significantly to the quality of the dish. The food is, after all, what is most important.

                                                                                          Mr Taster

                                                                                          NB I see now that coyboyardee has acknowledged this as well:
                                                                                          >> CI actually makes a lot of concessions to convenience compared to other recipe developers who are focused on improving ones results.

                                                                                          1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                            f
                                                                                            FED Oct 16, 2012 02:12 PM

                                                                                            i'd have to disagree with this mr. taster. quite often they'll complicate a recipe just for the sake of having a twist. they're funny that way.

                                                                                      2. re: judybird
                                                                                        j
                                                                                        JudiAU Oct 16, 2012 08:28 PM

                                                                                        Yeah, I've always been annoyed by the "no one has made a good version of this before us" which is just, actually offensive. Especially when their final recipe is often really close to another classic of some sort recipe.

                                                                                        1. re: JudiAU
                                                                                          l
                                                                                          linus Oct 17, 2012 11:06 AM

                                                                                          i have read the magazines and watched the television shows and would be hard pressed to come up with any evidence the view is, "no one has made a good version of this before us."

                                                                                          there is a vast difference between that statement and, "many recipes of _____ turn out poorly. here's one that won't," which is pretty much the view portrayed in print and on t.v.

                                                                                          1. re: linus
                                                                                            Mr Taster Oct 17, 2012 11:15 AM

                                                                                            That's exactly right, linus, although they do set a target on their backs when they declare a recipe as "The Ultimate...", "The Best....", or "Perfect....".

                                                                                            I've noticed, however, that they tend to use these superlatives only after they've got several "inferior" versions of the recipe in their archives. And even among superlatives, there seems to be a hierarchy.

                                                                                            For example, "The Best Banana Bread" is a somewhat standard recipe from 1998 (mix ingredients together, pour and bake) whereas "Ultimate Banana Bread" was published in 2010, and contains some ingenious CI style enhancements, such as "juicing" bananas in the microwave, and cooking down the juice down into a concentrated syrup, making an intense banana liquor which becomes the flavor base for the bread. Brilliant, and delicious.

                                                                                            So it seems, at least in this example, that CI has created their own proprietary hierarchy, where "ultimate" ranks higher than "best".

                                                                                            The bottom line is that Joe the Baker shouldn't think that the "ultimate banana bread" is an automatic implication that his sucks. It just means that it's better than the last one they published, and better than the specific recipes they culled in order to develop their tweaks. To extrapolate this out to "no one has made a good version of this before us" is a total misrepresentation.

                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                              l
                                                                                              linus Oct 17, 2012 11:22 AM

                                                                                              however they label their recipes or whatever language they use, i don't for one minute think kimball or his people think their sauteed scallops are better than eric ripert's. i find it baffling anyone thinks this is the case.

                                                                                              1. re: linus
                                                                                                l
                                                                                                lcool Oct 17, 2012 11:35 AM

                                                                                                No,but ATK did address the fact almost no one outside the restaurant trade has access to U-8 or U-10 DRY scallops.
                                                                                                Are they different?What is the difference?
                                                                                                How can I tell?
                                                                                                Does it matter?What does it mean?
                                                                                                answering all of the above with a good balance of information and technique to make the best of an altered,processed scallop

                                                                                              2. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                The Dairy Queen Oct 17, 2012 11:49 AM

                                                                                                I think we need a diagram.

                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                  Snorkelvik Oct 19, 2012 09:46 AM

                                                                                                  lol, that recipe plus the chicken kabob one is what turned me off to CI. Who wants to pulse chicken meat and use it to keep chicken on a kabob or whatever they did?

                                                                                                  who wants to prep 6 bananas in this lengthy process to make a banana bread?

                                                                                                  To be fair, creamless creamy tomato soup was a revelation (hint: use bread)

                                                                                                  Now I just read food blogs and the more interesting recipes or techniques are likely to be touted there & someone always posts a recipe quicker than CI can chase after it. : ) Problem solved! The perfect way to digest CI.

                                                                                          2. njmarshall55 Oct 15, 2012 01:12 PM

                                                                                            After reading all the posts to date (something I rarely do for a thread), I'm struck by the lack of middle ground of liking Chris. Sort of like cigars...either you love them or hate them. Although he is the captain of the CI/ATK ship, his fellow sailors on the culinary seas are actually doing most of the work. I'd be interested in seeing how my fellow CH'ers feel about his team-mates..Adam, Jack, Julia, and Bridgett. Personally, I prefer the scientific approach to their recipes, taste testing, and equipment evaluations. Haven't been steered wrong yet. Chris can come across as a bit preachy, but I like that he gives credit where credit is due...to his team.

                                                                                            24 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: njmarshall55
                                                                                              r
                                                                                              rasputina Oct 15, 2012 01:17 PM

                                                                                              I like Julia the best. I used to like Adam, but like Chris Kimball he tends to make assumptions about the desires of cooks that don't apply to me and there have been too many times where his recommendations left me scratching my head in wonder. Jack seems nice enough, but the brands used and the preferences chosen by his tasters don't reflect mine. Bridgett drives me insane. She annoys me as much if not more than Chris Kimball. I finally quit watching their show when I started counting how many times she says "that's right" in an episode.

                                                                                              1. re: njmarshall55
                                                                                                drongo Oct 15, 2012 01:30 PM

                                                                                                Of the chefs, I like Bridget and Becky. For the most part, I also like Julia, but I hate the creepy orgasmic noises she makes when tasting the dish with Chris. Of those who don't cook on the show, I like Adam Jack and Guy (science nerd).

                                                                                                1. re: njmarshall55
                                                                                                  jgg13 Oct 15, 2012 03:51 PM

                                                                                                  In fact, Kenji posted a tweet citing this article that was a bit snippy about Chris taking credit for the vodka pie crust recipe.

                                                                                                  1. re: jgg13
                                                                                                    Mr Taster Oct 15, 2012 05:10 PM

                                                                                                    Where in the quoted NY Times article does Kimball take credit (or even talk about) the vodka pie crust?

                                                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                      jgg13 Oct 16, 2012 06:18 AM

                                                                                                      On the sidebar, labeled: "Christopher Kimball's Finest Test-Kitchen Discovery"

                                                                                                      1. re: jgg13
                                                                                                        Mr Taster Oct 16, 2012 10:20 AM

                                                                                                        Well, to be fair, it looks like that could be an editorial error. It's not a quote from Chris Kimball. But I can see how it would ruffle Kenji's feathers.

                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                          f
                                                                                                          FED Oct 16, 2012 11:43 AM

                                                                                                          in fairness, kenji almost certainly learned that from someone else as well. i seem to recall a popular pie crust using vodka to weaken gluten back in teh 80s. there are few truly original discoveries in cooking.

                                                                                                          1. re: FED
                                                                                                            cowboyardee Oct 16, 2012 12:55 PM

                                                                                                            That's possibly true, but the use of vodka was only half of what was innovative about that recipe. I hadn't seen the food processor trick used as Kenji did before that recipe, and it's the most foolproof way I've seen yet to develop the desired flakiness.

                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                              f
                                                                                                              FED Oct 16, 2012 01:11 PM

                                                                                                              haven't seen isn't the same thing as didn't exist. that's the way thomas keller makes pastry dough in "bouchon" and i know i'd seen it before that. it's a seriously terrific technique, not to take anything away from it, but any recipe writer who gets snippy about having "invented" something is asking for embarrassment.

                                                                                                              1. re: FED
                                                                                                                cowboyardee Oct 16, 2012 01:35 PM

                                                                                                                "haven't seen isn't the same thing as didn't exist."
                                                                                                                ______
                                                                                                                Indeed, though I'm not sure that Keller didn't get that idea from CI. The recipes I can quickly google from Keller using the trick were all printed after the CI issue in question came out.

                                                                                                                That said, I agree that truly new discoveries in cooking are rare, and that it's likely enough Kenji was at least influenced by other recipes. Still, did he object to not being given credit for the sole invention of the technique? Or did he object to Kimball being given the credit for his technique (which is of slightly dubious originality, though Kimball probably had little or nothing to do with it) and his article (which is surely his own)?

                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                  f
                                                                                                                  FED Oct 16, 2012 02:15 PM

                                                                                                                  i don't want to get in any silly internet quarrel, but bouchon was published in 2004. the cooks illustrated story in 2007, as near as i can figure out.

                                                                                                                  1. re: FED
                                                                                                                    cowboyardee Oct 16, 2012 03:32 PM

                                                                                                                    The CI issue was indeed 2007. I'll take your word for it that Bouchon published the technique in 2004 - I don't have the Bouchon cookbook. Cool technique regardless of who pioneered it.

                                                                                                                2. re: FED
                                                                                                                  MplsM ary Oct 19, 2012 11:12 PM

                                                                                                                  Well, Kenji responds to a comment here:
                                                                                                                  http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2007/11/cooks-illustrated-foolproof-pie-dough-recipe.html
                                                                                                                  "That was actually a recipe that I developed here at Cook's. Completely our idea, arrived at through rigorous testing and thinking about the science of pie crusts! It took over a hundred individual tests before arriving at a solution that worked."

                                                                                                                  No dog in this fight, I just looked up the recipe and reading the comments.

                                                                                                                  And, here: http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2011/07...

                                                                                                                  "Unfortunately, due to some legally binding document I signed, ironically, as the creator of the recipe but not the owner, I am now the only person in the universe who is not allowed to write about it. Never mind that. You can read about the science of it over at The Kitchn. Gotta love lawyers."

                                                                                                              2. re: FED
                                                                                                                jgg13 Oct 16, 2012 04:26 PM

                                                                                                                Perhaps, I honestly have no idea, just passing along info. Kenji definitely has had a bee in his bonnet for a bit now regarding Kimball (he had a mysterious tweet a few weeks ago along the lines of losing all remaining respect for CK), not sure if this is why or if it is just something that caught his attention now that he's angry.

                                                                                                                1. re: jgg13
                                                                                                                  f
                                                                                                                  FED Oct 16, 2012 06:00 PM

                                                                                                                  it does seem like people either work for cooks for life, or they go away mad. not much in between.

                                                                                                                  1. re: FED
                                                                                                                    LindaWhit Oct 19, 2012 10:54 AM

                                                                                                                    Similar to how people feel about Christopher Kimball.

                                                                                                      2. re: njmarshall55
                                                                                                        cowboyardee Oct 17, 2012 10:11 AM

                                                                                                        "Personally, I prefer the... equipment evaluations."
                                                                                                        ________
                                                                                                        I find the equipment reviews to be one of the most problematic aspects of CI's content. It's one of the places where their desire to be authoritative conflicts with their desire to stay within the scope of what they feel their audience is willing to do. As such, there tends to be a lot of misinformation in their product reviews, and a lot of factors left out of their reviews. Products are claimed to be faulty in design without acknowledging their primary intended uses or why they might be designed that way.

                                                                                                        In the end, the cookware they recommend tends to be basically useful - they seldom recommend a bad product. But they pan good products all the time, and fail to provide real insight into how the design of different cookware translates to different strengths and weaknesses. What you should use depends on how you cook, and CI refuses to acknowledge that even some of their readership might be interested in cooking beyond the scope of CI.

                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                          Mr Taster Oct 17, 2012 10:57 AM

                                                                                                          >> CI refuses to acknowledge that even some of their readership might be interested in cooking beyond the scope of CI.

                                                                                                          The way you've constructed this argument, CI is doomed to fail.

                                                                                                          Why should CI, as an entity which has carved out a very specific voice and niche for itself and its customers, be held responsible to uphold a standard outside that niche?

                                                                                                          In other words, you're damning CI for not being "Gourmet" (or whatever other media entity that it is not). It's not a fair or logically valid argument.

                                                                                                          Mr Taster

                                                                                                          1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                            cowboyardee Oct 17, 2012 11:48 AM

                                                                                                            You make an interesting argument, but not one that makes me think any more highly of CI's equipment reviews. I'm not sure whether the problem was just that I worded my above post awkwardly or if you're just over-extrapolating from my post.

                                                                                                            I'm not damning CI for not being 'Gourmet,' at least in part because I don't think especially highly of Gourmet's cookware reviews either. It's not even about gourmet cooking - it's about CI's insistence on reviewing knives using only the factory edge with no mention of edge retention or sharpenability; it's about reviewing offset serrated blades as though they were made only to cut bread, rather than acknowledging that the offset is designed to make cutting other foods easier with the knife; it's about recommending the Accusharp knife sharpener without mention that it doesn't work at all for some of the knives they have reviewed in their own magazine; it's about dismissing traditional woks without bothering to mention that using a heat source that's actually well designed for a wok makes the traditional rounded bottom pans the best option.

                                                                                                            My point was that their reviews are compromised because they leave out too many of the messy details of how cookware is actually used. In some cases, that's because it's beyond the scope of their magazine, but in other cases it seems that's just because they didn't feel like getting into said messy details. Am I supposed to believe that no one at CI sharpens their knives? If not, then why leave that out of the review process, when it's the most important factor in how a knife will perform for 99% of its useful lifespan?

                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                              Mr Taster Oct 17, 2012 12:21 PM

                                                                                                              I only used "Gourmet" as a general example because it's the first food publication that jumped into my mind, not a specific example (which is why I added parenthetically "or whatever other media entity that it is not.")

                                                                                                              Cooks Illustrated caters very specifically to the ambitious home cook, not the obsessive "prosumer" or the professional. With this in mind, I understand that the ambitious home cook (of which I am one) is not going to have a high powered pit style stove like a restaurant or a typical family in Taiwan would have. My in laws live in Taiwan, so I've seen these first hand-- they use tanks, not a public gas utility, and there are no flame regulators on the valve so you can get massive BTUs with flames coming up the sides of the wok, not just contained at the bottom. There's no way to get that cooking environment in a standard American home kitchen. (When my mother in law visited us in the USA for the first time, we cooked a meal together. I turned the flame on high and she said to me, "No, you need to turn it on HIGH.")

                                                                                                              As for knives, professional chefs have to obsess over their edges. An ambitious home cook is not (necessarily) going to be a knife enthusiast. I definitely am not. All I know is that when my $25 Victorinox 8" chef's knife squashes tomatoes, I run my AccuSharp over it and hone it about 10 times, and it's back to a razor-like edge and paper thin slices. That's good enough for me. Once a year I get a professional whetstone sharpening.

                                                                                                              And by the way, I'm not blindly defending their equipment reviews. They regularly review things that are difficult if not impossible to find. They review things (like the KitchenAid blender) and then retract the recommendation because they realize too many of them broke after a year. And other recommendation of the "Progressive Easy Reach Steamer Basket" (whose legs wobbled after days of use and fell off after a month) baffle me. But for the core kitchen components (which I outfitted my kitchen with gradually over 2 years)--4qt large and 2 qt small All Clad saucepans w/ lids, 12" All Clad skillet, 7.25qt Le Creuset dutch oven, Kitchenaid professional spatula, OXO steel and plastic tipped tongs, inexpensive 12" T-Fal 12.5" nonstick skillet. All are spectacular, and have seriously upped my cooking ante. I've had way more successes than failures.

                                                                                                              Mr Taster

                                                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                                cowboyardee Oct 17, 2012 12:46 PM

                                                                                                                "As for knives, professional chefs have to obsess over their edges. An ambitious home cook is not (necessarily) going to be a knife enthusiast. I definitely am not. All I know is that when my $25 Victorinox 8" chef's knife squashes tomatoes, I run my AccuSharp over it and hone it about 10 times, and it's back to a razor-like edge and paper thin slices. That's good enough for me."
                                                                                                                _________
                                                                                                                You've kinda missed the point. Neither victorinox's knives nor the Accusharp are bad products. They're good products. My issue isn't really with their recommendations. It's with what they pan. Why bother reviewing gyutos (as they have) if they're not going to account for edge retention or the differences in sharpening? Whether you're obsessive about your knives' edges or not, these are factors that MUST be accounted for to write a decent review of the equipment, because they affect everybody who would use said equipment. If CI likes the synergy between a victorinox knife and an accusharp sharpener (and there's nothing wrong with that), then they might simply say so rather than framing their choice as a pair of thorough and encompassing equipment reviews, which they're not.

                                                                                                                Why bother reviewing equipment that they're not going to use correctly? And seeing as they regularly do this, I'd suggest they should be clearer in mentioning that the equipment offers real benefits, but those benefits are just beyond their scope, rather than leaving you and me to sort that out for ourselves.

                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                  cowboyardee Oct 17, 2012 01:05 PM

                                                                                                                  Because of this exchange, I did a bit of quick googling.

                                                                                                                  My experience with CI is limited to some of their earlier offerings, and I am not a current subscriber. Google, excelling at its primary function of making fools out of people who make any strong declarative statements, yielded the following page from 2009, wherein CI looks more deeply into Eastern-made knives.
                                                                                                                  http://www.cooksillustrated.com/equip...

                                                                                                                  While not a perfect review by any means, CI did indeed account for edge retention - a marked improvement over some of their older reviews. I am unable to see their final picks. Though I still think many of their older reviews are chock-full of misinformation, I do applaud CI for revisiting their conclusions and trying to get it right.

                                                                                                                  I'll go be grumpy someplace else.

                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                    l
                                                                                                                    linus Oct 17, 2012 02:01 PM

                                                                                                                    i wish more people would take your approach and do some research. kudos.

                                                                                                          2. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                            r
                                                                                                            rasputina Oct 17, 2012 06:20 PM

                                                                                                            In the end, the cookware they recommend tends to be basically useful - they seldom recommend a bad product. But they pan good products all the time

                                                                                                            I completely agree

                                                                                                        2. m
                                                                                                          mpjmph Oct 15, 2012 07:10 AM

                                                                                                          The "cooking isn't creative" part really gets me. I'm a recipe follower. I'm also a recipe tweaker. I tend to follow a very scientific approach when I'm working out a new recipe, something pretty similar to the ATK method. Even with the rigid method, it's still a creative process. You can be creative without being flamboyant.

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: mpjmph
                                                                                                            j
                                                                                                            John Francis Oct 15, 2012 11:18 AM

                                                                                                            The ATK recipes belie that. Their dishes generally aren't creative, they're modifications of existing recipes, but the methods of preparation sometimes are. The saga of the soft-boiled egg is a case in point.

                                                                                                            1. re: John Francis
                                                                                                              s
                                                                                                              sydthekyd Oct 15, 2012 05:50 PM

                                                                                                              Link to "saga of the soft-boiled egg," please?

                                                                                                              1. re: sydthekyd
                                                                                                                n
                                                                                                                nikkihwood Oct 15, 2012 09:14 PM

                                                                                                                It's in the referenced NYT Magazine article.

                                                                                                            2. re: mpjmph
                                                                                                              EWSflash Oct 23, 2012 08:01 PM

                                                                                                              I admit I had to wonder about what he said, it sounds like he's leading the charge against some damn thing I can't figure out what. I wouldn't bother if I felt the way he says he does about food.

                                                                                                            3. ipsedixit Oct 14, 2012 10:17 PM

                                                                                                              Recipes are dumb.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                b
                                                                                                                Bethcooks Oct 17, 2012 06:27 PM

                                                                                                                You are too funny - I laughed so hard my husband asked me what I was reading.

                                                                                                              2. n
                                                                                                                nikkib99 Oct 14, 2012 05:55 PM

                                                                                                                I'm not sure why people have such disdain for Kimball. Some people seem to have more issue with him because he's really a city boy dressed like Opie the country bumpkin. Whatever the case may be, I've found many useful tips on his shows.

                                                                                                                I don't use many recipes for everyday cooking, but a few cake recipes have provided excellent results. The format of the show and the careful explanation of certain steps makes it easier to confirm you're doing the right thing.

                                                                                                                Maybe some people like to throw things in the pan and see what comes out, but I'm the type of person who will read 3 or 4 different recipes and their reviews for one item just to make sure I have the best one.

                                                                                                                I like to know why something is needed or why we get different results so CI works for me.

                                                                                                                As far as his observations, it's No and No for me.

                                                                                                                1) are haunted by a fear of humiliation,
                                                                                                                - Not really. If something is that bad, I toss it before serving to anyone. LOL
                                                                                                                Plus, who does not like crispy chicken or petrified potatoes? I just made corn on the cob in my oven this afternoon, and it looked like it came out of the BBQ grill - scorch marks et al.

                                                                                                                2) will not follow a recipe to the letter, believing that slavishly following directions is an implicit admission that you cannot cook. (When Kimball laid this out for me, I shuddered with recognition.)
                                                                                                                Nope, I'm not professing to be an expert. When it comes to non-baked items, I modify as I see fit. Baking it more precise, so you can't do much there.

                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: nikkib99
                                                                                                                  CindyJ Oct 14, 2012 07:32 PM

                                                                                                                  The man doth protest too much, methinks. I do believe his observations 1 & 2 are more projections of his own fears.

                                                                                                                  1. re: CindyJ
                                                                                                                    r
                                                                                                                    rasputina Oct 14, 2012 07:51 PM

                                                                                                                    I completely agree, his assumptions say more about him than anyone else. Because I have no idea where he came up with them. I don't know anyone that thinks that way.

                                                                                                                    1. re: rasputina
                                                                                                                      s
                                                                                                                      Snorkelvik Oct 19, 2012 09:40 AM

                                                                                                                      here, here! I think you nailed it.

                                                                                                                      I love to cook and try new recipes, and I am happy to follow a recipe, and never once thought it meant I'm not a good cook. Ridiculous!

                                                                                                                      I cannot believe he managed to stay out of the internet vs. cookbook debate he loves to stir up & someone didn't mention his penchant for sending unordered books once one has been purchased.

                                                                                                                  2. re: nikkib99
                                                                                                                    r
                                                                                                                    rasputina Oct 14, 2012 07:52 PM

                                                                                                                    Before I got sick of him and his marketing tactics I used to watch his show all the time. I also have a few of their cookbooks and I still cook a couple of their recipes. But I finally hit the point where I couldn't take him or Bridget and her "that's right" anymore. Too often they "perfection" to the level of neurotic.

                                                                                                                    I agree with you regarding his observations.

                                                                                                                    1. re: rasputina
                                                                                                                      EWSflash Oct 23, 2012 08:00 PM

                                                                                                                      I like Bridget, though.

                                                                                                                      1. re: EWSflash
                                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                                        sydthekyd Oct 24, 2012 06:21 PM

                                                                                                                        I like Becky - she seems to enjoy herself and is the most relaxed.

                                                                                                                  3. EWSflash Oct 14, 2012 10:08 AM

                                                                                                                    Great article. I think that Kimball is a pompous, overdressed little sparrow fart, which the article does nothing to deny, but brought out the rest of the machine in a fabulously well-rounded way.

                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: EWSflash
                                                                                                                      CindyJ Oct 14, 2012 07:29 PM

                                                                                                                      Like so many others on "reality TV", he's merely an actor playing a role.

                                                                                                                      1. re: CindyJ
                                                                                                                        ttoommyy Oct 14, 2012 08:23 PM

                                                                                                                        But it's not reality TV. It's a scripted instructional program. Was "Cooking With Julia Child" reality TV? Reality TV's premise is that the cameras are rolling and what you see is what you get. Cooking shows like ATK, Essential Pepin, Lidia's Italy in America and so forth are not in the same category.

                                                                                                                        1. re: ttoommyy
                                                                                                                          CindyJ Oct 15, 2012 02:22 PM

                                                                                                                          I'd go so far as to say that Julia Child was a pioneer of reality TV. And what led me to observe that Kimball is an actor was where the writer of the article said, "...to spend time in Kimball’s presence is to recognize the expensive tailoring of his clothes and their studied flamboyance. When I sat beside him at C.I.’s Tuesday-morning editorial meeting, Kimball was shod in fire-engine red Italian oxfords and had draped a long scarf of some kind of really good angora-type fabric around his shoulders, so the cumulative effect — imposing and more than a little louche — was that of power and wealth expressed through anachronism." In other words, he's not the "awww shucks" country farmboy he makes himself out to be on the show.

                                                                                                                          1. re: CindyJ
                                                                                                                            ttoommyy Oct 15, 2012 02:38 PM

                                                                                                                            Julia Child was a pioneer of the instructional TV show. Reality TV is a combination of docudrama, soap opera and sensationalism. To me, there is a huge difference between a cooking show like ATK and a reality show like Project Runway with its forced drama and spotlight-seeking ensemble cast.

                                                                                                                            As for the aw shucks persona, where do you get that? He has hinted at his bygone deadhead days and very comfortable current lifestyle many times on ATK.

                                                                                                                        2. re: CindyJ
                                                                                                                          EWSflash Oct 23, 2012 07:54 PM

                                                                                                                          I disagree. It's not reality TV at all, it's instructional TV about food, whether or not you like the format. That's why I can't hate it, it's not Nadia G.

                                                                                                                        3. re: EWSflash
                                                                                                                          LindaWhit Oct 19, 2012 10:42 AM

                                                                                                                          "I think that Kimball is a pompous, overdressed little sparrow fart,"
                                                                                                                          ~~~~~~~~~~

                                                                                                                          That just needed to be repeated. To make me snort-laugh again. :-)

                                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                            EWSflash Oct 23, 2012 07:55 PM

                                                                                                                            I have to credit Kurt Vonnegut for everything after the "pompous". Read his book "Slapstick".

                                                                                                                        4. roxlet Oct 14, 2012 09:22 AM

                                                                                                                          I love this quote:
                                                                                                                          "In simplest terms, Cook’s Illustrated focuses on preparing middlebrow American dishes at home with supermarket ingredients and omits everything glossy cooking magazines have come to be known for."

                                                                                                                          And the Times's comment about the article on the main page:
                                                                                                                          "Christopher Kimball refuses to celebrate anything smacking of joie de vivre. Therein lies his success."

                                                                                                                          Both made me laugh out loud.

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                                            The Dairy Queen Oct 15, 2012 07:19 AM

                                                                                                                            Yes, I've always described CI as "Cooking without joy" and the article nailed that.

                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                              EWSflash Oct 23, 2012 07:51 PM

                                                                                                                              The article pretty much underlined the cooking without joy theory. You're spot-on, DQ.

                                                                                                                          2. r
                                                                                                                            rasputina Oct 14, 2012 08:56 AM

                                                                                                                            Confirms why I can't stand him. We do not approach cooking in the same way at all.

                                                                                                                            12 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: rasputina
                                                                                                                              ttoommyy Oct 14, 2012 09:29 AM

                                                                                                                              You really "can't stand" him just because you don't approach cooking the same way? Isn't that a kind of harsh term?

                                                                                                                              1. re: ttoommyy
                                                                                                                                s
                                                                                                                                saticoy Oct 14, 2012 09:57 AM

                                                                                                                                I can't stand him either - because he comes off so officiously preachy, and is so absolutist. And myopic. That officiousness and absolutism and myopia are the differences between how he and I approach cooking. So, I get what rasputina said, and yeah, its harsh!

                                                                                                                                1. re: saticoy
                                                                                                                                  ttoommyy Oct 14, 2012 03:24 PM

                                                                                                                                  Fair enough. I guess I just find it difficult to say such things about someone you know only from TV and a magazine article. That you don't agree with him; find him difficult to watch and listen to; that you dislike his philosophy of cooking; all those things I can understand. Also, maybe I'm thinking of "can't stand" as synonymous with "hate" and that is unfair of me; you and rasputina probably do not "hate" CK.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: ttoommyy
                                                                                                                                    r
                                                                                                                                    rasputina Oct 14, 2012 07:40 PM

                                                                                                                                    I don't hate him. I can't stand watching him though. He makes all kinds of assumptions as how things "should be" and acts like they are universal assumptions. He does it on his show and he did it in the article. Someone else called him pompous and he comes off that way to me.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: rasputina
                                                                                                                                      s
                                                                                                                                      sandylc Oct 19, 2012 08:46 PM

                                                                                                                                      "He makes all kinds of assumptions as how things "should be" and acts like they are universal assumptions."

                                                                                                                                      Very well put. This is my biggest quarrel with him.

                                                                                                                                2. re: ttoommyy
                                                                                                                                  r
                                                                                                                                  rasputina Oct 14, 2012 07:38 PM

                                                                                                                                  I didn't say because. The two sentences stand alone.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: rasputina
                                                                                                                                    ttoommyy Oct 14, 2012 08:21 PM

                                                                                                                                    I read them as one thought. Sorry.

                                                                                                                                3. re: rasputina
                                                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                                                  JudiAU Oct 16, 2012 08:25 PM

                                                                                                                                  I don't hate him but I don't want to eat with him and I don't think he knows or likes good food. I ike bow ties and I don't mind dweebs but I really dislike eating/discussing/being around people who don't like food and still talk about it. The staff is usually good.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: JudiAU
                                                                                                                                    l
                                                                                                                                    linus Oct 17, 2012 11:03 AM

                                                                                                                                    i cannot fathom how someone could read his magazines and watch his television show and come to the conclusion he doesn't know or like good food.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: linus
                                                                                                                                      j
                                                                                                                                      JudiAU Oct 17, 2012 04:33 PM

                                                                                                                                      Really? He fears spice of all kind, he can't tolerate heat of any level, his appreciation of anything more ethnic than 1950s farm food is absurd. It isn't just that he prefers simple food or home cooked food, he actively dislikes any food that requires thought or experience.

                                                                                                                                      "The readers’ prejudices dovetail neatly with Kimball’s. “We’re doing Saag Paneer,” he announced one morning. “Everyone here loved it except me — all that army green goop, you’ve got to be out of your mind! But we publish what our readers want, not what Christopher Kimball wants. I’m happier eating hoagies.”

                                                                                                                                      1. re: JudiAU
                                                                                                                                        l
                                                                                                                                        linus Oct 17, 2012 05:05 PM

                                                                                                                                        reaching the conclusion "he actively dislikes any food that requires thought or experience" because you think "he fears spice of all kind" is utter hyperbole.

                                                                                                                                        does only spicy food require thought or experience?

                                                                                                                                        have you watched the show? they've cooked food with spice. he's eaten it. he said he liked it. how do you know he was lying?
                                                                                                                                        on the television show, he often talks about his trips abroad and how much he enjoyed the food. was he lying?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: linus
                                                                                                                                          n
                                                                                                                                          nikkib99 Dec 9, 2012 03:40 AM

                                                                                                                                          I agree with JudiAU's statement that he likes simple food over complex meals. Even though he'll taste and say he likes other foods, you can tell that's not his preference - the enthusiasm is just not there.

                                                                                                                                          I laugh during the taste tests because he almost-always picks the cheapest item. You just have to watch a few episodes and realize his opinion on things is not always what you want - Chris does not do complex layers, and certainly not spice. To him, black pepper is 'the hot stuff'.

                                                                                                                                4. CindyJ Oct 14, 2012 08:33 AM

                                                                                                                                  Kimball's personality aside, the problem I've always had with ATK and the premise behind the "Best Recipe" concept is that the recipe they finally herald as the end-all, be-all is often really NOT the best. It may be foolproof, and maybe that's what Kimball's disciples are after, but in my experience, tweaking the recipe to add flavor, complexity, or personal preferences is likely to make "the best" even better.

                                                                                                                                  Also, some of their techniques are questionable. I saw a show recently -- can't recall if it was ATK or Cook's Country -- where they were doing stir frys -- in a skillet (it might have been electric). Now, I suppose one can do that, but to my way of thinking, a stir fry is, by definition, done in a wok, and the end result of a stir fry done in a wok is not going to be the same as that done in a skillet.

                                                                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: CindyJ
                                                                                                                                    greygarious Oct 14, 2012 10:33 AM

                                                                                                                                    The ATK/CC people, among others, have pointed out that woks are properly used over a very high heat source - a lot hotter than possible in most home kitchens, even those with gas burners. The stove should have a recessed opening that cradles the wok so as to heat the entire bottom, or a ring should be used atop a flat gas burner to channel the flame. For the home cook,with an electric stove, a skillet or saucier may be necessary to achieve enough heat for the fast, hot cooking that is the essence of stir-frying. "The end result of a stir fry done in a wok"....in a home kitchen is not going to be the same as that done in an Asian restaurant wok.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: greygarious
                                                                                                                                      CindyJ Oct 14, 2012 07:27 PM

                                                                                                                                      " "The end result of a stir fry done in a wok"....in a home kitchen is not going to be the same as that done in an Asian restaurant wok."

                                                                                                                                      Well, of course it won't. There are many things done in restaurants that home cooks cannot do, and sure, the result at home will not replicate the result achieved by a professional chef in a professionally equipped kitchen, but that doesn't mean that a home cook shouldn't use specialized equipment that functions well beyond adequate. It's more about using the right tool for the right job. A wok used in a home kitchen can perform quite well, even if the heat source doesn't replicate that of an Asian restaurant kitchen.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: CindyJ
                                                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                                                        John Francis Oct 14, 2012 10:04 PM

                                                                                                                                        "The right tool for the job" isn't really what Kimball's empire is about - rather, the tools that a reasonably well equipped home cook will already have. That's what you see on the TV shows and presumably what they use in the test kitchens. Has Julia Child or Jacques Pépin ever used a wok in their TV shows? Not that I've ever seen. There's nothing wrong with using the technique of stir-frying in a skillet, sauté pan, or whatever you have, and I taste nothing wrong in the results I get. Authentic or not.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: John Francis
                                                                                                                                          CindyJ Oct 15, 2012 02:22 PM

                                                                                                                                          If having ""The right tool for the job" isn't really what Kimball's empire is about" why does ATK so often tout the high-priced Thermapen when there are so many other instant-read thermometers that will perform about as well for a fraction of the price?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: CindyJ
                                                                                                                                            Mr Taster Oct 15, 2012 02:46 PM

                                                                                                                                            >> when there are so many other instant-read thermometers that will perform about as well for a fraction of the price?

                                                                                                                                            I don't think this is true. Thermapen can't be matched by cheaper probe thermometers for speed and reliability.

                                                                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                                                              CindyJ Oct 15, 2012 04:56 PM

                                                                                                                                              I own a Thermapen and I also own two Taylor instant-read thermometers with small dials (not digital). Believe me, I have wanted to prove to myself that there was a reason for spending nearly $90 on this "gotta-have" tool, and I've done countless side-by-side comparisons. But truth is, the cheapo Taylors are almost as fast and just as accurate as the Thermapen. That said, I think it's kind of fun to use the Thermapen, and it does register the temp in tenths of a degree (soooooo important!), but is it worth the additional $80...? Nah!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: CindyJ
                                                                                                                                                cowboyardee Oct 15, 2012 06:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                I've had three different instant read thermometers by Taylor and Polder give up the ghost before their first birthdays. Could just be bad luck, but I got sick of playing roulette. My thermapen has been working just fine for several years now, with very regular use. IMO, you're really paying for better construction, durability, and reliability when you buy a thermapen, not the modest increase to speed and accuracy.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                                                                al b. darned Oct 16, 2012 10:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                >>>
                                                                                                                                                >> when there are so many other instant-read thermometers that will perform about as well for a fraction of the price?

                                                                                                                                                I don't think this is true. Thermapen can't be matched by cheaper probe thermometers for speed and reliability.
                                                                                                                                                <<<

                                                                                                                                                I almost agree with you Mr. Taster. I probably tried a dozen different digital thermometers and almost all of them have come up wanting. Usually the range is too narrow and the response time is too slow. However I've had this one http://www.amazon.com/CDN-DTQ450X-Pro... for about 15 years and for less than 20 bucks it's as close to the Thermapen as you can get. If Santa hadn't and bought me a Thermapen a few years back I would be using this one exclusively.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: al b. darned
                                                                                                                                                  l
                                                                                                                                                  lcool Oct 16, 2012 01:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                  My only objection,minor,to the CDN is that requires re-calibration on a regular basis.It's my #2,thermapen is my #1.

                                                                                                                                              3. re: CindyJ
                                                                                                                                                pamf Oct 16, 2012 11:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                In fairness, the CI magazine reviews usually rate the "best" item, often high priced, and then also rate an alternative, less costly item, as the "best value" choice.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: CindyJ
                                                                                                                                                  njmarshall55 Oct 17, 2012 09:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Well, we must keep in mind that it's the "job" that's really different...when one is making the same recipe over and over and trying to keep certain factors "controlled" in the test kitchen, accurate readings ARE important. As a manufacturing quality manager in the aerospace business, I for one, really appreciate the scientific approach that ATK/CC uses in developing their recipes. In my kitchen at home, the digital thermometer/timer with the probe that goes into the oven is fine for what I use it for. I'm not about to make 20 pork roasts to determine the best ingredients or processes, but if I did, I'd want to make sure I had the most accurate tools I could get my hands on.

                                                                                                                                              4. re: CindyJ
                                                                                                                                                EWSflash Oct 23, 2012 07:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                " "The end result of a stir fry done in a wok"....in a home kitchen is not going to be the same as that done in an Asian restaurant wok."

                                                                                                                                                So how did it get so popular among home cooks in China?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: EWSflash
                                                                                                                                                  Mr Taster Oct 23, 2012 07:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Home cooks in China/Taiwan have 1) unregulated stovetops, so the flames can get as big as the gas tank valve will open and 2) many have pit style stoves so part of the wok nests below the surface level of the cooktop.

                                                                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                            2. re: CindyJ
                                                                                                                                              EarlyBird Nov 30, 2012 12:53 PM

                                                                                                                                              A long time ago I realized that good food is the result of good technique and good ingredients (the former probably edging out the latter by a hair). The "recipe," or what finally goes in tends to be more about personal preference.

                                                                                                                                              ATK gets this concept down completely, and will focus on technique more so than the "recipe." When they come out with the "end all be all" it tends to be due to exhaustive research on technique and they save us a lot of money, time and trouble.

                                                                                                                                            3. j
                                                                                                                                              John Francis Oct 14, 2012 07:26 AM

                                                                                                                                              The story spells out exactly what he does and why, and puts Cook's Illustrated and the TV shows in perspective. I haven't tried many of the America's Test Kitchen recipes - too finicky for me - but at least now I know why they're so finicky.

                                                                                                                                              1. drongo Oct 13, 2012 02:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                Even though I'm a Kimball-hater, I thought that was an excellent article

                                                                                                                                                In some ways it diffuses my dislike for the man (and other ways reinforces, lol).

                                                                                                                                                1. Samalicious Oct 13, 2012 03:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                  "... two intrepid observations Kimball has made about the innermost psychology of home cooks. Namely that they 1) are haunted by a fear of humiliation, and 2) will not follow a recipe to the letter, believing that slavishly following directions is an implicit admission that you cannot cook."

                                                                                                                                                  Preach.

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