Chris Kimball leaving America’s Test Kitchen

Christopher KimballAnother shakeup in the food world caught many people off guard. Today the Board of Directors of Boston Common Press (parent company of America’s Test Kitchen), announced that Christopher Kimball’s employment with ATK is ending. Kimball was one of the founders of Boston Common Press, which started with a single publication, Cook’s Illustrated, back in 1992. While Kimball’s departure is effective immediately, he will still be the host of the 2016 seasons of the America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country television programs.

A contract dispute is blamed for the breakup. David Nussbaum, CEO of Boston Common Press, said in the announcement that “We made every effort to offer Chris a reasonable contract that reflected his significant contributions to the company and are disappointed that we could not reach agreement.” Grubstreet reported that were signs of a big change in the company earlier this year, when “Boston Common Press essentially surprised Kimball with a boss back in September – the company’s first-ever CEO, a media executive from the outside.” While Kimball hasn’t said anything about the breakup, rumor is that he and his wife are considering forming their own company.

Other new additions to the Boston Common Press management team were announced last week, including the naming of its first Chief Digital Officer. Jack Bishop was promoted to to Chief Creative Officer. He will be “responsible for the creative strategy of the America’s Test Kitchen television program, Cook’s Illustrated magazine, Cook’s Country magazine and television show, and America’s Test Kitchen’s digital and book content, as well as for new projects.”

Reaction by fans has been mixed. Some lament Kimball’s departure, feeling that the soul of the programs is being removed. Others, however, are not disappointed to see Kimball go, as they felt that his folksy missives and no-nonsense demeanor had outlasted their appeal. What do you think of this development for ATK and CI?

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  • Creative.Juices  on  November 16, 2015

    I'm in the "shocked" and "losing its heart" camp. I'm a devotee, and will find it very hard to find this news acceptable.

  • sir_ken_g  on  November 16, 2015

    I always found his recipes to be too fussy and not the worth extra effort.
    The development methods he used were faulty.
    Also if you buy a book from them – they keep sending them – buyer beware. If you must have those books get them from Amazon cheaper and avoid the follow up books.

  • mzgourmand  on  November 16, 2015

    I agree with sir_ken_g and actually found them to be unreliable, as were/are the recommendations from Cook's Illustrated. I never understood the interest because his food was never all that good.

  • ellabee  on  November 17, 2015

    The whole enterprise jumped the shark a while ago, and his persona has been one of its least attractive components from the beginning. A test kitchen is a good thing, but this one needs some revitalizing.

  • BethNH  on  November 17, 2015

    I'm a huge fan of ATK and have never had a recipe fail me. That being said, I find Kimball to be a blow hard and I won't be sad to see him go. Kimball is not ATK and they will survive without him.

  • Creative.Juices  on  November 17, 2015

    I'll have to stand in stark disagreement on this one. For me, and from the looks of Facebook, many others, Kimball IS ATK, CC, and CI. I have yet to be disappointed with a recipe. Everyone has worked just as they've promised.

  • PegMallon  on  November 18, 2015

    As a professional chef and Registered Dietitian, I've followed Kimball since the first Cook's Illustrated. While not interested in every single thing, I have found ATC, CC and CI to be very reliable. The extra effort elevates the end result. Long ago, To paraphrase Kimball, he never intended to be haute cuisine, just reliable home cooking.

  • AndieG52  on  November 19, 2015

    Two points I'd like to make: First, I too have found the ATC, CC and CI recipes to be quite reliable as well. Secondly, as for Chris Kimball's personality – yes, he can be quite dry but that to me is a part of the New Englander personality. But he is only one part of that vast panorama, if you will, of all the TV chefs/cooks out there and for me it's entertaining to see the representation of different personalities and regions.

  • Couture911  on  November 21, 2015

    No love lost here. I like the quality of Cooks Illustrated and rely on their equipment reviews. However, Christopher Kimball is such a fake. He pretends to be a down-home practical guy when he is actually a multi-millionaire. He and his fake folksy persona can go sit on their millions and I won't miss him at all.

  • ajd123  on  February 17, 2016

    This explains a lot. I noticed last month's ATK magazine was the first devoid of a CK editorial (which I think is worth the price of the magazine) but the thing that brought me here was the fact that the last couple of years my suspicion that ATK is mostly interested in making quick cash has grown to a certainty. All they do is spam you and try to get money any way they can. Which would be fine if they weren't pretending to be PBS anti-capitalists. They drive up the cost of the products they hawk and soft-pedal the fact that they cash in as an Amazon affiliate. They jump on the Gluten Free and Paleo bandwagons, which makes them, in my opinion what the PBS crowd might call "science deniers." Gone is their pragmatic Yankee approach, and now I know why. Hello Buyer's Guides, food fads, and upsells.

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