Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

America’s Test Kitchen Now On Radio!

A photo of Christopher Kimball at a book signi...
Chris Kimball - host of America's Test Kitchen (Wikipedia)

I love the food TV show “America’s Test Kitchen”. The host, Christopher Kimball is so “not ready for prime time TV” that he is wicked good.  I love his dry humor.  I have learned a lot to improve my cooking by watching the shows and have even subscribed to their “Cook’s Illustrated” magazine.  I can’t get enough.

I just got an email from Chris announcing that they are going on the radio with a new program and you can listen to their first America’s Test Kitchen radio program now.

Here is what Chris Kimball said about their new program’s formatting:

Eleven seasons ago, we launched our first public television show: America’s Test Kitchen. Having no experience with television, we were giddy about it and felt we had nothing to lose. You give it your best shot and hope that somebody tunes in to watch.

Well, it all worked out pretty well, and now we’re on to something else. It reminds me of the tourist engaged in a rather fruitless discussion with an old-time Vermonter. Having received only perfunctory replies, the tourist finally asked, “You lived here all your life?”

“Not yet,” replied the old-timer.

So, a decade later, we are not yet finished with taking great leaps into the unknown. On January 8,  America’s Test Kitchen Radio debuted on public radio for a 12-week run on 89.7 WGBH Boston, Saturdays at 2 p.m. (The show can also be streamed or downloaded from our website at www.AmericasTestKitchen.com/Radio.)

Why a radio show?

Well, our TV director, Herb Sevush, once told me that our television shows would actually work better as radio given the huge amount of content we pack into each half-hour episode. True enough. Radio is indeed a smarter medium—one with a lot more space for deeper dives into everything from olive oil and chocolate to restaurant critics and the food at country fairs. But you can’t cook on radio, at least not for very long, and so we needed to come up with a whole new format.

For starters, I asked Bridget Lancaster (who appears on America’s Test Kitchen) to be my co-host. Her humor is legendary and, best of all, she loves making fun of me. The radio show allows her voice and wit to come through unabridged. (She once told me, as I was making yummy noises while taste testing some of her barbecue brisket: “You and that brisket ought to go get a hotel room!”)

Next, we tried out call-ins and fell in love with you, our public. (I have been warned by radio professionals never to say “like Car Talk.”) What goes on in home kitchens around America is an eye-opener, from the gentleman who substituted shrimp for chicken and then found his recipe “tough” (cooking shrimp for a half-hour will do that) to the woman who called to say that she prayed over her tough biscuits.

Then we hopped on planes, trains, and cars to interview chefs, restaurant critics, farmers, coffee experts, olive oil tasters, and biodynamic wine producers (among others) to get a behind-the-scenes look at the business and pleasure of food and cooking. Does Dunkin’ Donuts make better coffee than Starbucks? Do biodynamic farmers really believe that fruits and vegetables vibrate in harmony? What makes Alice Waters one of the last of the true believers? And what about the life of the restaurant critic? What do they know about dining out that you and I don’t? (And why did Ruth Reichl, former restaurant critic of the New York Times, take acting lessons to do her job properly?)

Next, we found a way to do food taste tests and equipment reviews on radio. We also went back in time to rediscover lost recipes, recipes that we renew and bring back to life in our test kitchen.

But, most of all, we now have the luxury of time to dig deep, to visit with our viewers and listeners, and to investigate more thoroughly the world of food and cooking. (One expert compared the Italian olive oil business to the drug trade while one restaurant critic said that the first thing she does when walking into a restaurant is to sniff around!) Plus, each week we test gadgets with our test kitchen gadget guru Lisa McManus, do blind tests in our tasting lab with Jack Bishop, and check in with a variety of experts and commentators across the country.

America’s Test Kitchen Radio applies the no-nonsense, first-hand testing approach of our TV show to the wide world of food, dining, and cooking—with your voices thrown into the mix for good measure. Listen for the food and cookware recommendations. Listen for the in-depth interviews that take you behind the scenes. Or just listen for the fun of it, as Bridget and I field your calls and try to answer your questions.

Once again, we are standing on the edge of a new venture, and we hope you will join us. (Somebody has to take the leap with us!)

Just log onto www.AmericasTestKitchen.com/Radio and let the fun begin!

  1. This is fantastic! I am a huge fan, too! Thank you for sharing this information. Since I broke down and finally subscribed to satellite tv last spring, I haven’t seen the show and miss it terribly. From a culinary student’s perspective, it’s one of the best out there, in my opinion. Again, thank you!

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