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america’s test kitchen –a case study in how not to make food fun and enjoyable

June 8, 2009

One of the biggest cooking and food joys is learning and actually using new techniques, flavors, ingredients, and cooking methods.  Personally speaking, I’ve learned much through my own experimentation, the internets, blogs (plug alert:  such as food n more…), and innovative, fun cooking shows.  America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) on the other hand leads the cooking show pact for its awesome ability to strip all the fun, originality, and experimentation from cooking.

ATK is hosted by Chris Kimball, an uppity, geeky Yankee with a penchant for Carson Tucker bow ties, an ozone depleting VO5 hairspray supported comb over, and 90’s era glasses.  Taking a secondary role, the show has a supporting staff of equally geeky, socially awkward ‘cooks’ and ‘best product’ researchers.  Fine…I can play nice and manage to get past the whole dungeons and dragons thing.

Chris Kimball -sheep herder

Chris Kimball -sheep herder

Seeking to “develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods”, Kimball and company commission focus groups of average Americans (how inspiring –cooking by committee!) to taste and tweak insipid recipes of meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, potato chip coated meat, brownies, and the like.  Goodbye gourmet!  Goodbye new, original recipes!  Goodbye new flavors and ingredients!

What more, all tweaked recipes and ingredients are dictated to a tee:  “add .25 tsp of vegetable oil to a 12 inch, not 11 inch, not 13 inch, Teflon coated nonstick skillet that’s been heated on medium high heat for 1.33 minutes”.  Hum.  Sure, the sheep (and there are many –ATK is the most watched cooking show on public television) are being taught to follow but goodbye original thought, preparation, and actual learning!

Of course, by simply tweaking and showing dull recipes ATK creates lazy, uninspiring, subordinate direction followers.  Better (read:  all other) cooking shows actually teach food theory, dabble in the science of food, develop new, fun dishes with ingredients that go beyond the salt and pepper ilk, and are –gasp– inspiring!

Give a man a dull ‘recipe’; you have fed him for today.  Teach a man to actually cook; and you have fed him for a lifetime.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. Mark permalink
    June 10, 2009 9:52 am

    Kimball tops the list of men I least want to run into in a dark alley late at night

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