America's Test Kitchen sues Christopher Kimball

Milk Street magazineIf the EYB Forum and Facebook posts are any indication, plenty of our members recently received the charter issue of Milk Street, Christopher Kimball's new publication. The magazine may have seemed familiar to Cook's Illustrated in its approach to recipe development: create the best version of a dish by listing, and subsequently eliminating, the problems that often arise in other recipes. The concept is a bit too familiar to his former company, which has filed a lawsuit against Kimball, alleging that he "literally and conceptually ripped off America's Test Kitchen."

The suit claims that Kimball not only copied the model, but that he took steps to build Milk Street as a direct competitor to ATK, including using the company's databases and recipes, while still employed at America's Test Kitchen. Jack Bishop, currently the Chief Creative Officer at ATK, said that Kimball "kept on saying he wasn't going to compete. I took him at his word." Bishop noted several similarities between Cook's Illustrated and Milk Street, including graphical properties and the magazine's 32-page size.

The lawsuit cites a number of emails that purportedly show Kimball, or those working under his direction, surreptitiously completing tasks for the benefit of Milk Street, such as obtaining office space and copying recipes. This is not the only litigation involving Milk Street: the owner of Boston's Milk Street Cafe filed a trademark lawsuit earlier this year.


  • sir_ken_g  on  11/1/2016 at 12:39 PM

    Never liked ATC's pseudo scientific methods, so I would not like Milk Street either.

  • jlg84  on  11/1/2016 at 8:04 PM

    Interesting; his new podcast also bears a striking similarity to the one he used to helm for ATK.

  • ICUStat  on  11/2/2016 at 12:36 AM

    Hard to see how ATK rebrands itself without Kimball...and I think the lawsuit proves it's having a difficult time. Subscribed to ATK products for about a decade but when I found out they fired Kimball I called and cancelled everything. In the end, the tiresome e-mails and automatic book shipments that I was always stuck with (it was too time consuming to return them) sealed the deal. I'm not sure MSK is overall THAT different from ATK. At some point I think the success of MSK is wholly dependent on ruining ATK, which I'm OK with on many levels. Never listened to to ATK podcast but the latest MSK podcast featuring Claire Ptak was something really special.

  • Rinshin  on  11/2/2016 at 4:15 PM

    ATK was fun to watch as long as Kimball was there, but I doubt I'll watch many more going foreward. I do like ATK, CI and Cook's Country recipes a lot but I normally don't rely on their Asian recipes - pretty lame recipes overall. I like the regional American recipes they find and come up with in Cook's Country. Some are quirky and I would never have heard of them unless they feature them in their publications like Cincinnati Chili Five Ways. I am hoping the MS will venture more into authentic recipes of the world and west of the Rockies.

  • darcie_b  on  11/3/2016 at 10:11 AM

    I have always found CK's folksiness to be disingenuous, and felt his television persona was condescending and pretentious. CI really helped me develop as a cook, but CK's personality wasn't part of that success. A couple of years ago I cancelled my subscription because I thought the publication was getting stale. I think that ATK was experiencing angst over stalling growth and CK was resistant to change, so they ended up getting what now looks like a nasty divorce. I don't see a way that anyone wins in this scenario.

  • AmateurCAinOR  on  11/13/2016 at 10:43 AM

    ATK seems to believe its own press. CK's Milk Street sounded like it might step on toes, so I didn't bite. CI/ATK's monthly e-mail newletter of old was indeed a folksie here's-what's-happening-on-the-farm-right-now in plain text that I enjoyed reading. It also included an actual recipe on occasion. But fewer words, more graphics, more masked recipes, more ads for ATK, and I jumped ship. I'm still getting appearance alerts for somewhere I haven't lived in many years.

  • Analyze  on  11/28/2016 at 8:50 AM

    I noticed that as soon as he left (and Chris quit; he was not fired), when he would talk about the ATK recipes on the radio show, he wasn't as enthusiastic, he was almost teasing about it, whereas before he's always been like "this is the best recipe ever, it's perfect." He also started talking about his new cooking techniques and how much he loved them, which reminded me of what he's doing at Milk Street Kitchen. I think it's kinda slimy the way he's acting. He quit because he was too stubborn and proud to have someone telling him what to do, but he's made a LOT of money off of starting and running ATK over the years, so it's not right to now poach from future investors and the current company.

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