Not without my floured hands at the wheel.
November 17, 2015 9:22 AM   Subscribe

Christopher Kimball, the 'kitchen stickler' behind the beloved Cook's Illustrated magazine and PBS' highly-rated America's Test Kitchen show, is leaving the kitchen amidst a leadership shakeup at the company he founded. The last letter from Vermont has not yet been published. Previously
posted by anastasiav (152 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is Julia finally going to get her moment? NOW IS THE TIME
posted by Think_Long at 9:27 AM on November 17, 2015 [20 favorites]


And who’ll pay Old Henry what’s due to him when he comes striding up the walk some fine autumn morning? Your hands aren’t strong enough to hold the tithe. Only mine were. Only I could give Old Henry what was due him, before the dying of the year, and when I’m gone, he’ll exact his terrible price. And you’ll pay it. You’ll all pay it.

Oh, Jesus, that letter is perfect. Now I want to see Kimball in a guest cameo spot in next month's issue of Harrow County.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:28 AM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Your hands aren’t strong enough to hold the tithe.

That is the scariest, most forebodingest sentence I have read or heard in years.
posted by Etrigan at 9:32 AM on November 17, 2015 [34 favorites]


Alton Brown is going to replace him.
posted by NoMich at 9:35 AM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


That is the scariest, most forebodingest sentence I have read or heard in years.

Kimball always had that creepy-clown feel to me; I could never tell what was intentional satire and what was unintentional revelation of weirdness.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:35 AM on November 17, 2015 [19 favorites]


One would hope not. Alton's fun to watch, but I don't know if I'd trust his hands either.

Kenji Lopez-Alt could, but I don't think he should, or would.
posted by bonehead at 9:36 AM on November 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


I hear Paula Deen's available.
posted by mkultra at 9:37 AM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Last winter, my wife and I attended a taping of some of the tasting segments for the current season of Cook's Country (yes, they are done that far in advance). If you watch Episodes 3, 9 and 12 you will see each of us in audience closeups. I got to meet Christopher Kimball after the taping because I won the Cook's Country cookbook giveaway, and I also got to talk with Jack Bishop. Kimball is actually very gracious and amusing in person compared to the way he comes across on the show, but I suspect he is indeed exceptionally difficult to work for. It's almost impossible for me to imagine any of the CI properties without him as the host/editor/figurehead.
posted by briank at 9:40 AM on November 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Just to be crystal clear - the last letter from Vermont link is parody, from The Toast, who has been writing parody Letters from Vermont for some time.
posted by anastasiav at 9:41 AM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


No. Give it to Julia/Bridget. Pick one if you absolutely must, but seriously, just let them co-host the damn show. They've earned it and they're great on camera. I'd be willing to bet that Kimball was responsible for a high set of standards on that show, but those two women are the beating heart of that show and did at least as much of the on-air heavy lifting.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:41 AM on November 17, 2015 [53 favorites]


Kimball is one weird, annoying dude, but his shows -- and especially Cook's Illustrated -- were essential resources for a generation of home cooks.

I dropped the magazine years ago, but have maintained a digital subscription, despite some weird and annoying monetization strategies (some recipes included in the Cook's Illustrated subscription, some not; all the marketing come-ons for books and DVDs).

Wouldn't be surprised to see Boston Common buy up Kenji Alt-Lopez's thing; that seems to be the Cook's Illustrated for the younger set.
posted by notyou at 9:42 AM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


i want to marry this comment from the-toast letter : "I mean, I can't say I'll miss mandolines *that* much seeing as how they are nothing but machines of devilment out to extract their pound of flesh from us skeleton slipcovers."
posted by nadawi at 9:43 AM on November 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Oh, we also met Bridget Lancaster at a book-signing event just a few weeks before we went to the show taping. She is absolutely delightful in person and was full of stories about the many pranks Jack Bishop has played on Chris Kimball over the years, including tricking him into drinking a a glass of gin disguised as water after eating a spicy dish (Kimball notoriously hates spicy food).
posted by briank at 9:46 AM on November 17, 2015 [18 favorites]


> Kimball notoriously hates spicy food.

This does not surprise me.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:51 AM on November 17, 2015 [22 favorites]


I would pay to see that tasting, briank.
posted by Kreiger at 9:52 AM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Damnit, you mean my cooking equivalent to Garrison Keillor is being forced away.

A pox on you head honchos. May your bread fail to rise and your frittatas burn on the bottom.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:53 AM on November 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm picturing Guy Fieri in a bow tie.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:53 AM on November 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


My daughter, who is 5, watches and loves Cook's Country. We were in the car when NPR announced Kimball's departure, and she started crying. So yes, he does have at least one loyal fan who will miss him.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:54 AM on November 17, 2015 [30 favorites]


I just started watching ATK on Netflix and it seems like many of the cooks who are demonstrating recipes are terrified of him. He always seems like he's one dropped teaspoon away from a raging meltdown.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 9:56 AM on November 17, 2015 [16 favorites]


This is not to take away from the accomplishments of Kimball, since he's done a lot of good for home cooking in America (as well as my home cooking). But I've always felt like the rigorous and pan-culinary Cooks Illustrated properties were at odds with Kimball's down-east New Englanderisms, because I associate the latter primarily with a cuisine primarily composed of boiled meats and root vegetables.
posted by ardgedee at 9:58 AM on November 17, 2015


"Scrape your knuckles on a cheese grater, and you’ll see a familiar bowtie in the bloodstain."
I couldn't tell for a while if this was a parody or not, but it definitely fits the style of Kimball x final letter.

It makes me sad. My family has had a magazine subscription and bought the yearly book since 1998. We will watch his career with great interest.
posted by shenkerism at 9:59 AM on November 17, 2015


Kimball is at least a part owner of the company that publishes / produces CI and ATK, so I'm very, very curious about what kinds of corporate machinations resulted in him being pushed out. I'm reasonably certain it must have been about more than his employment contract.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:04 AM on November 17, 2015


When I had cable, and I was flicking through the channels, I'd always stop if ATK was on.
Did I stop whenever Cook's Kitchen was on?
NEVER.
I can't explain it, but that show just rubbed me wrong, like an askew mandoline.

I wonder what the heck led to this dust up?
More money?
More power?
Less money?
Less power?
All of the above?

I'll miss him, because to me, he was the show.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 10:05 AM on November 17, 2015


He always seems like he's one dropped teaspoon away from a raging meltdown.

I'm glad we're not the only ones who got that vibe.

We've crafted elaborate, completely fictional backstories about how Adam Reid only tests kitchen equipment while completely blackout drunk, and how Kimball is so mean to Jack Bishop, he cries in the parking lot every single day with his mittens and a puffy coat on, while waiting for his geo-metro to warm up in the cold Boston parking garage.

John "Doc" Willoughby is also some sort of undead, we're really not sure what stripe.

Maybe my wife and I need different hobbies.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:10 AM on November 17, 2015 [51 favorites]


Had to stop watching his show because of discomfort. He would tell a joke, and everybody would just freeze, and it was like, oh, that wasn't a joke, that's something he's yelled at them about behind closed doors and is now throwing in their face.

Or that's what it felt like, anyway.
posted by maxsparber at 10:11 AM on November 17, 2015 [17 favorites]


He always seems like he's one dropped teaspoon away from a raging meltdown.

He seems more of the type that can inflict cold terror in the object of his wrath without even raising his voice.
posted by Dr. Twist at 10:12 AM on November 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Aw, bummer.

I love this show and this will hamper my ability to enjoy it fully. For me "enjoy it fully" means see it as a group marriage, and read all the interactions, between every host with every other host, as smoldering.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:13 AM on November 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


I appreciate that ATK has an important role, but he's just such a cop about everything, and cooking cops rankle me. It's almost like they're trying to make cooking scary or something. And he's been pretty open about not actually enjoying cooking, which doesn't really click for me. (I intentionally and explicitly set about cultivating an enjoyment of cooking when my son was little, and it was one of the few life decisions I've made that I don't perpetually and bitterly regret.)

But I do use ATK recipes for things I cook for other people but don't personally like. I have very little sweet tooth, but I like to bake things for family and friends that they'll like, so I turn to experts on things like that. "My" chocolate chip cookies are just straight up rule based America's Test Kitchen cookies. But when it comes to learning how to cook the way I like to cook, I'd much rather emulate Julia Child's style of expertise and creativity than I do with prescriptivists like Kimball and Alton Brown.

But even from my non-enthusiast perspective, that style has its value, and I really hope they manage to keep it up.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:19 AM on November 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


Alton Brown is going to replace him.

Bow tie: ✔
Old-timey glasses: ✔
Wispy blonde hair, receding hairline: ✔
Folksy anecdotes about idyllic childhood: ✔ (Southern vs. New England)
Extreme passive-aggressiveness thinly disguised as good-natured on-screen ribbing of co-workers: ✔
Prissiness: ✔

We may have a winner, folks!
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:23 AM on November 17, 2015 [18 favorites]


I wonder what the heck led to this dust up?
More money?
More power?
Less money?
Less power?
All of the above?


Less power and control, and maybe money. This is two months after installing a new CEO.
The core issue, Nussbaum said, was a contract dispute. “He was asked to stay with the company and focus his talents on creativity, on-air presence and in-person appearances,” Nussbaum wrote. “Despite our interest in having him stay and after negotiating with him in good faith for many months, he ultimately rejected that approach. We are disappointed that he has chosen a new path, but we respect his choice.”
posted by zamboni at 10:25 AM on November 17, 2015


I love Cook's Illustrated, though I don't think I've ever followed one of their recipes. I read it as a fiction. I gawk at the lengths that people will go through to roast a chicken. I steal a tip here or there. I consider their equipment reviews.

Not entirely sure what it will look like after this, but I'll keep an eye on it for sure.
posted by advicepig at 10:27 AM on November 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


any time someone with the purse strings says they were negotiating in good faith i get immediately suspicious.
posted by nadawi at 10:27 AM on November 17, 2015 [19 favorites]


Good grief. That letter is about one murder away from being a chapter out of Stephen King.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:28 AM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


My only fault with Cooks Illustrated is that their cookbooks are often collections of published articles on related subject. With little or no editing.

So, for example, their barbecue book recipes all start with how to start a damn charcoal fire using a chimney, or firing up propane for 15 minutes to get hot. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

The book could have been probably 40% shorter, or had 40% more recipes.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:31 AM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Chris was always the thing I tolerated to get to everyone else, but his eerily antagonistic presence will be missed.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:31 AM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


John "Doc" Willoughby is also some sort of undead, we're really not sure what stripe.

I never understood why his shorts were always broadcast from some satellite location, completely out of sync with the rest of the show. A basement prison cell perhaps? Or a different plane of reality?
posted by Think_Long at 10:34 AM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I never understood why his shorts were always broadcast from some satellite location, completely out of sync with the rest of the show.

Our theory was a restraining order between him and Kimball. Part of some settlement for "Doc" to keep his job. Or he's just Kimball's golem, so he's forced to go out and do weird legwork for Kimball.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:40 AM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Alton Brown is going to replace him.

Bow tie: ✔
Old-timey glasses: ✔
Wispy blonde hair, receding hairline: ✔
Folksy anecdotes about idyllic childhood: ✔ (Southern vs. New England)
Extreme passive-aggressiveness thinly disguised as good-natured on-screen ribbing of co-workers: ✔
Prissiness: ✔

We may have a winner, folks!


One need only see a few episodes of Next Food Network Star to realize that Alton shares the same suppressed fount of rage and thin-lipped menace which made Chris Kimball so interesting to watch...
posted by Chrischris at 10:41 AM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I saw an episode where he claimed to see the Velvet Underground perform "Walk on the Wild Side" in 1968, but everyone knows that Lou Reed wrote that song in 1971 after he went solo, and how am I supposed to trust this guy on how to make a brisket after that? I hope the incensed letter I sent about this blatant falsehood contributed to his dismissal.
posted by mpbx at 10:46 AM on November 17, 2015 [16 favorites]


There was a profile of Kimball in the New Yorker a while back. The most surprising thing: he spends his free time playing lead guitar (of course) in a Grateful Dead cover band. The least-surprising: he thinks people who change even the slightest little thing in a recipe of his are traitors to the craft of cooking and should be up against a wall and shot. Well, maybe not that extreme, but seriously, he really, really hates the idea of anyone changing an ingredient or technique AT ALL. Which annoys me, though I recognize that his company's recipes are successful.

Also unsurprising: he's not a nineteenth-century Vermonter at all; he's a child of the wealthy New York Cheeverish suburbs. He's playing a part with the bow tie and all (but then, aren't we all?)

I also gave up my Cooks Illustrated subscription when I couldn't take the constant barrage of spam for videos and such, that you couldn't opt out of.
posted by Fnarf at 10:48 AM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've actually been unreasonably stressed out about this Kimball thing for the last couple days. Not for the man himself—like many fans I can't stand Kimball The Presenter but acknowledge that Kimball The Founder is why we have ATK at all—but out of fear that this is just the beginning of changes to ATK / CI that will dilute what they offer home cooks.

Replacing Kimball with JKL-A is brilliant on paper, but unlikely to happen: he used to work for them and might consider it a step backwards; his cookbook just came out and he's still flying on all the good press; and most importantly, the guy is a total dud on camera. Ever watched any of the Serious Eats videos? Oof.

Luring Alton Brown away from his late-career game show host doldrums seems much more palatable, but I think if he wanted to do something like Good Eats 2.0, he'd be doing something like Good Eats 2.0 on his own.

What I hope they do moving forward is to not replace Kimball at all, and have America's Test Kitchen be more of a collective, with Bridget, Jack, Dan, et al, as the more recognizable cooks and a rotating cast of ATK staffers presenting recipes.

Finally, I've seen a lot of hand-wringing elsewhere about how the new CEO is "focused on growth," but I don't know how he could make the ATK/CI web experience any worse or more ruthlessly monetized. Just recently, after spending $75 on subscription upsells I was given the opportunity to spend $500 on the America's Test Kitchen online cooking school. I declined, of course, but as a non-gambler, it felt good to finally know what it feels like to be a whale.
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:48 AM on November 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


Nah Kenji just moved out to CA and seriouseats was just bought by another company, I doubt we'll be seeing him on the ATK any times soon, though who knows. As for Kimball, I sorta see that but Daniel Souza always seems to be poking fun at Kimball, particularly on the podcast. I think he's just a bit stilted on TV.
posted by Carillon at 10:48 AM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've always enjoyed Cooks Illustrated and Amerca's Test Kitchen, but have to say I lost some respect for Kimball when he tried to pass this tale off as happening to a neighbor in one of his letters. I'd link to the letter but can't find it anymore. He must have taken it down after I called him out for it in an earlier comment on MeFi.
posted by TedW at 10:50 AM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


The least-surprising: he thinks people who change even the slightest little thing in a recipe of his are traitors to the craft of cooking and should be up against a wall and shot.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but CI's whole thing is that they test every conceivable way of doing something, and tell you which method produced the best results. Deviating from that is basically saying, all that work you did? The entire reason for your existence? Fuck you, I'm doing it my way.

There are two kinds of cooks in the world, the ones who think it's about improvisation, love, creativity, etc., and the ones who are like human replicators who take a set of instructions and execute them perfectly and exactly every single time (and only very rarely become the instruction-makers themselves). I'd rather hang out in the kitchen of the former, but I'd much rather eat the food of the latter.
posted by danny the boy at 10:55 AM on November 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Everyone ought to know how to cook. You’ll find me wherever a man is plating his first Oysters Rockefeller, wherever a home cook is learning the best way to scoop drop biscuits (a seashell King Neptune gave you). Turn on your gas range, and you’ll see my eyes in the blue light. Close your refrigerator door, and I’ll sweep through it with the darkness. Scrape your knuckles on a cheese grater, and you’ll see a familiar bowtie in the bloodstain.

That passage is amazing.

My wife and I have a couple of ATK cookbooks. One is the "Best Equipment" edition, which was incredibly useful for setting up house but not quite as helpful for regular food (since when should French Toast take an hour to make?). The other is some sort of Heart-Healthy cookbook, which was a mistake, and my fault completely.

The chemistry stuff in the books is great and provides some basic building blocks which has lead to some incredible off-recipe meals from both of us (her paella in particular is praise-worthy, and I tend to focus on making bland food less so).
posted by infinitewindow at 10:55 AM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Alton Brown is going to replace him.

I used to be the biggest Alton Brown fanboy. Autographed books and everything.

And yet ... rarely has someone fallen farther and faster in my view. His interviews and attitude have really gotten weird. Maybe he was always like this, and I just didn't see it.

I can't fully trust someone that is rah-rah-science-it-works-bitches, while at the same time says he carries a concealed handgun because scary people and stumps for the Southern Baptist Convention. I know he said he left it, but still.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:56 AM on November 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


Alton Brown is also a racist, so there's that.
posted by danny the boy at 10:57 AM on November 17, 2015


I keep expecting Alton Brown to one day just remove the rubber mask he's been wearing and reveal he's been Skeletor all along.
posted by The Whelk at 11:05 AM on November 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Correct me if I'm wrong, but CI's whole thing is that they test every conceivable way of doing something, and tell you which method produced the best results.

Best results by whose standards? There's no objectively right answer to how chewy a cookie should be, or any of the other myriad of judgement calls they make in every recipe. It's great that they find the way that they like best, but that doesn't mean I like it the best that way. That's the main appeal to me of the magazine, is they explain HOW they got it the way they did, so if I like my cookie a little crisper, I know what to adjust.

You can be creative about how you cook and still enjoy the science behind it.
posted by Gygesringtone at 11:05 AM on November 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


That is by far my favorite The Toast letter from Vermont.

As for his departure: one of the articles I've read about him and/or the show (maybe the New Yorker article mentioned above) says he specifically chose to play that character on the show. He's the audience's stand-in. He's the guy on the infomercial who can't do anything. He has seen that as an essential part of their production. He literally thought about it and chose to be annoying.

If they just removed that whole part of the show I can't say I'd miss it. And I never read the letters. But if they move more towards monetizing everything than they already have (Dear Home Cook, buy this remixed cookbook consisting of 40% recipes you've already bought from us in other forms, 20% recycled TV content, 10% new recipes, and 30% paste, for more than it costs from Amazon, and get subscribed to a new book every month in the process) then I might have to cancel my online subscription once and for all. I'm curious if he's been the driving force behind that whole Columbia House thing or the guy holding it all at bay.
posted by fedward at 11:10 AM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I assume frustration at recipe changes is more about people who don't follow the recipe exactly, and then complain it doesn't work right or isn't that good.
posted by smackfu at 11:10 AM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I'm holding out hope that Kimball just isn't great at running a business of the size that ATK / CI have gotten to be, and all the crappy upgrades and add-ons are his attempts to sustain their business model; if that's the case, then maybe the new CEO's business plan will make their most loyal customers feel less like they're being taken advantage of at every turn. But maybe that's naive of me...
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:13 AM on November 17, 2015


Replacing Kimball with JKL-A is brilliant on paper, but unlikely to happen

I think it's extremely unlikely, both for the reasons mentioned above and for the fact that I'm certain the man wants to do his own thing, not be forced to continue someone else's. ATK/Cooks has a very strong brand. I know I would feel constrained walking into that, even were I capable of it. Lopez-Alt should be doing his own thing, not Kimball's.

It makes far more sense for these folks to promote from within rather than bring in an outsider, I think. Brown is utterly wrong for all kinds of reasons.
posted by bonehead at 11:14 AM on November 17, 2015


> Alton Brown is also a racist

Wait what
posted by ardgedee at 11:16 AM on November 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Best results by whose standards? There's no objectively right answer to how chewy a cookie should be, or any of the other myriad of judgement calls they make in every recipe

I challenge you to watch any episode of the Great British Bake Off and tell me with a straight face that all perspectives about what is "best" are valid

or "pretty"
or "edible"
posted by danny the boy at 11:19 AM on November 17, 2015


I've never read anything Kimball has written...Is that letter on the Toast for real or is it satire? If it's real...well...that thing reads like someone's manifesto just before he drives the van full of fertilizer and gasoline into the federal building. Jesus it's weird.

I'm really surprised Kimball was a minority owner of his kingdom.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:23 AM on November 17, 2015


Wait what

Previously on metafilter...
posted by danny the boy at 11:23 AM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Best results by whose standards?

The homemaker with the avocado fridge and original Hobart-made mixer to whom all those letters from Vermont are addressed.
posted by bonehead at 11:24 AM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is that letter on the Toast for real or is it satire?

Complete parody satire. I'm pretty sure these are some actual Letters from Vermont however.
posted by anastasiav at 11:25 AM on November 17, 2015


ci - ck = tds - js
posted by j_curiouser at 11:25 AM on November 17, 2015


I assume frustration at recipe changes is more about people who don't follow the recipe exactly, and then complain it doesn't work right or isn't that good.

I do recall that being his real point in that interview.
posted by atoxyl at 11:26 AM on November 17, 2015


Alton Brown is also a racist

Wait what


There was this story. More clueless dork than racist, IMO.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:27 AM on November 17, 2015


More clueless dork than racist, IMO.

I find they are functionally indistinguishable.
posted by maxsparber at 11:29 AM on November 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've been trying to understand how Kimball was ousted. I don't have the full story, but it appears that Kimball's cofounder Eliot Wadsworth II may be involved. The new CEO came in two months ago. I'm guessing there's some really juicy boardroom gossip here.

Firing the talent only works if you have a backup plan. Their products are so closely allied with Kimball's persona, I can't imagine replacing him.
posted by Nelson at 11:29 AM on November 17, 2015


I replaced the chocolate chips with horseradish and my cookies came out terrible.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 11:29 AM on November 17, 2015 [13 favorites]


I assume frustration at recipe changes is more about people who don't follow the recipe exactly, and then complain it doesn't work right or isn't that good.

My favorite recipe blog commenter is the one that says, "I substituted everything in this recipe for something else, and it didn't turn out good! YOUR RECIPE SUCKS".

Despite my agreement here, you won't be missed, Kimball, you bow-tied maniac. Maybe now ATK's recipes won't be so bland.
posted by dis_integration at 11:30 AM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I replaced the chocolate chips with horseradish and my cookies came out terrible.

Ah, now I see the problem. It should have been "horse, radish".
posted by Etrigan at 11:35 AM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


"We tested 47 potential hosts under a variety of conditions..."
posted by PlusDistance at 11:38 AM on November 17, 2015 [23 favorites]


But I do use ATK recipes for things I cook for other people but don't personally like.

This is what their recipes are perfect for. I personally don't much like most of their recipes for reasons including too fussy, too bland, and too sweet, which makes them almost irreplaceable when cooking for elderly family members or random people from your spouse's office. Their food has that same focus-group-tested inoffensiveness as a mainstream chain restaurant, and the same predictability.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:38 AM on November 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


I continue to be torn regarding how strictly their recipes adhere to the middle of the road. I'm a big fan of reproducible results (and that's what they're selling: any human can follow these steps, and if you follow these steps you can do this thing every time) and thus I get the editorial perspective on substitutions. On the other hand, so much of their stuff is … bland. I think what I'd like from them if I were in charge would be something that actually attempts mastery and not just reproducibility.

Maybe a good starting place would be a remix book, where they start with their New England Nice version of a recipe and point out all the things you can safely change for ingredients on hand (and which things are absolutely worth sticking to as written), plus how various spice ratios would change the recipes to suit more, uh, local tastes.
posted by fedward at 11:41 AM on November 17, 2015


Holy cow, I must watch the show completely wrong because I really enjoy it and thought everyone on the show was happy to be there. I also don't write anything down, gather approximate versions of their ingredients, and just wing it when I make their recipes and they usually turn out good.
posted by mattamatic at 11:44 AM on November 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


I love those commenters too, but if I was the one making the recipes I would hate them. When you are making something new, detailed, tested recipes are a godsend. I made rosti over the weekend because my wife felt like eating it. I knew that Felicity Cloake in the Guardian had done an article on making the perfect rosti so I tried it out (sans goose fat). The thing that got me with her recipe is that it didn't even hint at how hot the stove was supposed to be. It just says to put butter into the pan and get it sizzling, cook the potatoes and then leave it alone for 10 minutes before flipping it over. 10 minutes is enough time to either totally burn the thing or to have it all uncooked depending on the heat of the stove. All I wanted was to know if it should be medium or medium-high. I ended up burning one side of the first one I made, which was fed to the kids, and then perfectly cooking the second one which my wife and I were able to enjoy ourselves.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:49 AM on November 17, 2015


Everyone who has chimed in on why you love ATK but no longer want to do business with them/let them have your credit card number? THIS. Consider yourself lucky if you never had to untangle yourself from the marketing machine that is America's Test Kitchen. Kimball deserves a lot of credit for sticking to his guns in the early days of web content and saying, "Our stuff costs money because it's worth it." In the days of sites giving it away left and right they made money because he refused to budge. That approach works, but if you don't keep that engine tuned you can end up with a lot of angry people wondering why they're still getting billed for a subscription they thought they cancelled, let alone why books keep showing up. Sooner or later that stuff catches up with you, no matter how many times you try that recipe.

What really matters for ATK is figuring out the right balance of magazine, TV, web, and more. When you see online education startups raising millions of dollars you wonder what sort of an engine ATK could be building and making it easier to get exactly the recipe you need, the minute you need it, without hassle. (Heck, throw in a year's subscription with the video purchase. Why not?)

Is it ATK without Kimball? I wondered the same thing about MST3K when Joel left and they seemed to do OK, so I think the shows will be fine. Personally I want the Glorious Age of Julia(tm) to begin, but it probably behooves them to bring in another stand-in for the audience. The show is better with someone to constantly ask, "Wait a minute, this is usually three hours and six pots! How are you going to do it in ten minutes in a skillet!!?" (Seriously that's almost every line of dialog Kimball has on the show, just shift a few variables.)

furnace.heart - I'd also like to add I've gone over scenarios over how much 'liquid courage' Jack Bishop has to taste to be ready for a segment. It's a fun thought to see him line up a dozen bottles of gin, six bottles of tonic water, sigh heavily, then start pouring.
posted by boonerang at 11:57 AM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


This story also made it to the r/cooking subreddit. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt showed up to weigh-in and to shed light on the business side of his own operation.

Link here.

Also, I love Chris Kimball and his slightly off-putting demeanor. I have a theory about opinions: you can't rely on the positive opinion of an uncritical person or the negative opinion of a critical person; conversely, you can frequently rely on the positive opinion of a critical person and the negative opinion of a positive person. So, if Chris Kimball (clearly a critical person with a lot of integrity) endorses something, I trust it.
posted by SugarFreeGum at 12:04 PM on November 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


Prediction for the final episode:

CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL:
All salad spinners are the same, right? But can you believe this guy actually tested 12 of them? What a moron!

ADAM RIED: ...? You literally gave me this assignment.

KIMBALL: Go on, let me smirk at all the little design flaws you think are so important.

RIED: You do this every week! Every damn week, Chris! Tuesday's staff meeting, you're all "we should review salad spinners, some of them are really crummy," then at Friday's taping you act like I'm total lunatic for even giving a shit.

KIMBALL: This one looks expensive! I can tell you right now my neighbors in Vermont would look at me like I had a third eye if I walked in with an expensive salad spinner!

RIED: You held up your own salad spinner at the meeting and said "This five dollar piece of junk is going to the trash. Adam, see if you can find the best salad spinner no matter the cost." And like Charlie Brown going for that football, I believed you YET AGAIN, and here we are! Here we are again, Chris!

KIMBALL: There you have it: the OXO Goodgrips is our pick for best salad spinner, and at $15, is pretty reasonable. Now let's go back into the kitchen with Bridget to learn how to make the perfect pork carnitas...in the slow cooker!

RIED: [angry sobbing]
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:12 PM on November 17, 2015 [47 favorites]


Kimball's cofounder Eliot Wadsworth II may be involved.

That is the perfect name for his cofounder. It will also make an excellent name for his arch nemesis.
posted by diogenes at 12:17 PM on November 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


I cannot help but love this tweet about Chris Kimball and Dana Cowin.
posted by Kitteh at 12:18 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


This thread is ever so much more funny if you remember that ATK was a porn brand in the early 00s.

That was when I was single. I'm a married man and, as such, haven't stayed current on my pornography. The might well be a going concern. Still, this thread is comedy gold if you choose that reading.
posted by stet at 12:18 PM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Nussbaum wrote. “Despite our interest in having him stay and after negotiating with him in good faith for many months, he ultimately rejected that approach. We are disappointed that he has chosen a new path, but we respect his choice.”

This, combined with some of the observations about Kimball reads to me as, "We wanted to turn him from a person who manages to a person who is managed. It sounds like he is a terrible manager so I can understand a new CEO coming in and declaring, "That guy manages zero employees at this company from now on." I could also see Kimball as taking that as a threat to his power/influence/whatever.

My wife got me this cookbook from them and I LOVE it. We always consult that book before making any new dish. I find the little article that talks about what they tried, what worked, what didn't and why that precede many of the recipes very helpful in fine tuning an ingredient or technique to work around a missing ingredient, adjust something to deal with some missing piece of equipment, or just adjust for my personal preference.

I tried watching some of the shows but I just couldn't stand Kimball live. Which is fine because it sounds like he would HATE the way I use his cookbook.
posted by VTX at 12:21 PM on November 17, 2015


I love someone acknowledging that it's hard repetitive work and not glamorous rustic wood tables. I like recipes and instructions, not lifestyle bullshit. My only hope is that we don't see lifestyle articles and such creeping in
posted by Ferreous at 12:22 PM on November 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Chris Kimball was once on a series of episodes of This Old House, where he was advising a homeowner and kitchen designer on how to lay out The Perfect Kitchen.

Maybe his incredibly fussy "Your Life Will Be Just Awful If You Put The Sink There" persona is all an act, but if so it's a very unpleasant one.
posted by muddgirl at 12:23 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also unsurprising: he's not a nineteenth-century Vermonter at all; he's a child of the wealthy New York Cheeverish suburbs. He's playing a part with the bow tie and all (but then, aren't we all?)

You can tell he's a flatlander because he talks so damn much. My brother-in-law, who my Vermont-born uncles used to claim was both inbred and the only real Vermonter in the family, used to parcel out words like every one of them cost him real money.

My favorite recipe blog commenter is the one that says, "I substituted everything in this recipe for something else, and it didn't turn out good! YOUR RECIPE SUCKS".

I totally did that with a Cook's Illustrated recipe for Pad Thai. I used substitutions the magazine itself suggested as possibilities (I wasn't close to a good Asian grocery store), but I did every single one of them. I ended up with a dish that was something like gooey spaghetti with an odd greenish-yellowish sauce.
posted by Area Man at 12:30 PM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Consider yourself lucky if you never had to untangle yourself from the marketing machine that is America's Test Kitchen.

Boy howdy, I'll say. Anything associated with ATK/CL is forever tainted for me, after that time I was given a year's subscription to CL as an xmas gift. We received our 6 issues over the year, chortling over the reader tips which earnestly suggested groundbreakers such as lining a cookie sheet with foil to catch drips from a casserole (no shit Sherlock) and ignored the eleventy-gazillon Renew Your Subscription Now! letters that started arriving before we had even received the first magazine. We declined to renew.

CL sent an extra issue—we think, we aren't sure since it had been a year and it wasn't like we had kept all the issues by our bedside—then an invoice, then a nasty demand letter and three months later, they sent our account to collections and I had to spend time dealing with rude guys who called at 6 am demanding we pay up or else.
posted by jamaro at 12:35 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I won't miss him, and if the new CEO is there to find a way for them to make money without alienating customers like me, then good. (When signing up for a "free" ATK web account so I could view details of recipes from the show suddenly turned into "here's a free issue of Cook's Illustrated" then into "here's a bill for the subscription you never agreed to" I vowed never to give them a dime.)

I never really thought much about him until he did a big special about Fannie Farmer. Apparently he bought her old house in Boston. They put a vintage wood burning stove in it, cooked a big vintage recipe dinner party and filmed the process. Thing is, Kimball himself did none of it. There he was at the end of the show saying "I learned this" and "I learned that" but as far as I saw HE learned nothing. The woman and her assistants who did all the actual cooking? THEY learned stuff. Kimball just took all the credit.

Mostly I value ATK the show for the equipment reviews. I definitely have been making purchase choices based on their recommendations. The recipes are always interesting, but I often feel their techniques end up far fussier than I think necessary. I mean, sometimes the old standard ways of making something aren't actually a problem - maybe you need to practice them a few times to get the results you want, but doesn't mean chucking the old method for a new more complex one even if it works more often.
posted by dnash at 12:41 PM on November 17, 2015


Your hands aren’t strong enough to hold the tithe.

Is a tithe something that can be held at all?
posted by kenko at 12:43 PM on November 17, 2015


Damnit, you mean my cooking equivalent to Garrison Keillor is being forced away.

He is also my cooking equivalent to Garrison Keillor, and I am giddily waving goodbye! I second middleclasstool's assertion that the show should go to Bridget and Julia. They were the reason I watched. (To each her own!)

Chris Kimball was once on a series of episodes of This Old House, where he was advising a homeowner and kitchen designer on how to lay out The Perfect Kitchen.

I swear to god, I don't know what's wrong with me today, but I read "This Old House" as "Little House on the Prairie," and things got really weird from there.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:44 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


That last letter from Vermont is doing a pretty passable Cormac McCarthy impression.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 12:47 PM on November 17, 2015


Correct me if I'm wrong, but CI's whole thing is that they test every conceivable way of doing something, and tell you which method produced the best results. Deviating from that is basically saying, all that work you did? The entire reason for your existence? Fuck you, I'm doing it my way.

The thing is, though, it's not like their parameters for "best" are uncontentious. You'll see someone a cookie recipe or whatever and the author will say "I [or our tasters] wanted a chewier texture, so …" and then the recipe proceeds from there, with one parameter nailed down, as further options are explored and limited. Great. But maybe I don't want a chewier texture.
posted by kenko at 12:48 PM on November 17, 2015


I don't really know anything about ATK but if they have a host opening somebody should put Dave Arnold on TV. Though someone would probably end up getting maimed in an accident with a modified tandoor or something.
posted by ghharr at 12:59 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


People, people: you all heard the news that "Mythbusters" is ending, right? And what is "ATK" but a sort of Mythbusters-in-the-kitchen?

So the real question is, Adam or Jamie wearing the red apron?
posted by wenestvedt at 1:09 PM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I had a CI sub for a while, but I got tired of the formula, particularly the faux-surprise when some variation that was obviously going to fail does so.
posted by tavella at 1:15 PM on November 17, 2015


I gotta say - I was subscriber to CI for a long time - but cancelled after it felt like I was paying for the same content over and over again... so now I buy their annual Best Of's and I am quite happy.

CK is getting a lot of flak for being kinda persnickety and fussy. But you know - I love it and the recipes that have come from ATK. The thing is - they work - you can tweak but you get the sense of why a recipe works and what can be changed. I get that defining the "best" is difficult (I will never ever be a fan of soft cookies), but having a recipe that works as advertised is a pretty good and rare thing.

I also respect that CK never got into the whole awful lifestyle thing, and if anything - he is the epitome of an anti-personality. Alton Brown died for me when he started hosting Cut Throat Kitchen and being part of the absolutely soul killing Next Food Network Star.

CK has a distinctive voice - and I liked the funny awkward vibe of the TV show where for the first few seasons, it felt like Chris and His Sister Wives. Some of my best recipes and techniques where gleaned from CI - which has more credibility on one page than an entire season of the Food Network. I will hope that CI and ATK are able to move forward in a constructive unflappable manner.
posted by helmutdog at 1:18 PM on November 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


So the real question is, Adam or Jamie wearing the red apron?

Your hands aren’t strong enough to hold the lathe.
posted by maxsparber at 1:20 PM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I swear to god, I don't know what's wrong with me today, but I read "This Old House" as "Little House on the Prairie," and things got really weird from there.

I can definitely picture him in the role of a snooty itinerant schoolmaster who looks down on the Ingalls kids and treats them unfairly because they're poor farmers, causing Laura to hatch a mischievous plan involving bullfrogs, fireworks, and a series of forged love letters—all in an effort to disgrace the snob and oust him from the town of Walnut Grove.
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:26 PM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Julia should be the new host because she is the best.



(Also, I have a crush on Julia.)
posted by wenestvedt at 1:29 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


When signing up for a "free" ATK web account so I could view details of recipes from the show suddenly turned into "here's a free issue of Cook's Illustrated" then into "here's a bill for the subscription you never agreed to" I vowed never to give them a dime.

This is the thing that has really annoyed me about CI/ATK. The recipes aren't actually on their website, unless you first fork-over a tithe. Even if it's only an email address, it's a bad way of doing business, imho. You should let a few recipes go for free, just to set the hook a bit better. But, to watch the shows, and then head over to the website for the recipes (as advised on the show) only to hit a wall, really kills a lot of positive impressions, at least for me.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:29 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Kenji Lopez-Alt could, but I don't think he should, or would.

Lopez-Alt was a former editor of Cook's Illustrated. That pedigree is exactly what makes Serious eats what it is.
posted by Karaage at 1:32 PM on November 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


Who wants to bet the owners switch to an advertising business model to maximize cash? Now that Kimball is out, the door is open.
posted by LoveHam at 1:36 PM on November 17, 2015


KL-A's hot take: One of the most important lessons I learned from Chris Kimball during my time at Cook's Illustrated was that you can't buy reader trust at any price, and that you shouldn't try to sell something you can't buy.

This is the thing. I wouldn't trust Chris Kimball to show my kids a good time or to tip his servers well, but I would trust him to show me how to cook some tasty (if not-spicy) food.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:44 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Weird, you can watch current season episodes for free and without registration, so I'm surprised they don't have the text versions available as well.

The show will be much poorer for Chris' departure. A lot of people found his attitude persnickety, but I don't have a problem with him feeling like you should do it his way at least once before saying his recipe sucks. Seems totally reasonable to me.
posted by wierdo at 2:35 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Alton Brown died for me when he started hosting Cut Throat Kitchen and being part of the absolutely soul killing Next Food Network Star.

I see this sentiment a lot, and I honestly don't really get it.

I was a massive AB fanboy from near the start of S1 of Good Eats (I learned so much about food from the original [subtitled] Iron Chef, Good Eats, and Molto Mario). Through his whole career with Food Network, he's always had some level of campy mischief to him. So, when he went on Food Network Star, I watched for the first time in a long time, and honestly I thought it was great -- he actually seemed interested in the food and the people, and spent half the time making fun of Food Network and the other hosts. His presence was basically the only thing worthwhile about the seasons of it he was on (and unless I'm mistaken, he stopped being involved when it became clear that The Network had no interest in the kinds of real cooks he wanted).

I'm not saying FNS is/was a great show, but I think AB was basically the one thing making it not terrible.

Similar to that, I view his work on Cutthroat Kitchen as being just the next step of his work on Iron Chef America. In both cases, he's playing a different 'character' than Good Eats AB, so OK, I get that maybe people don't like it, but: "dead" to them? C'mon, let's be real here. Cutthroat Kitchen is basically Chopped, but with AB's evil dictator character providing something worth watching (sorry Ted Allen, I like you a lot, but Chopped is a snorefest).

Again, I'm not saying Cutthroat Kitchen is amazing, but I think AB is doing what he can to still make something fun in today's world where Food Network hasn't got a lot of interest in real cooking -- and I think it's really weird how many people have basically said he's somehow ruined forever because after 14 seasons and 249 episodes of one of the best cooking shows to have ever been made, he had the gall to not just slink off to a room somewhere and stay out of the public eye, waiting to die.
posted by tocts at 2:47 PM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I spent a few years working a fantastic (yet hellish, because retail is just that) kitchen store right out of college, smack dab in downtown Seattle. (No, not Sur La Table.) The entire staff hated Cook's Illustrated and ATK with a passion because every time they recommended something, be it a spatula or a knife, droves of people would come in the store for that piece of equipment, snobbily asking as if none of us knew a single thing about cooking or food. Often the customer would be asking for something they knew nothing about, or had no need for, but if Christopher Kimball told them to get it then by God they needed it now. I know that Christopher Kimball wasn't personally to blame for that, but since it's usually him shilling for these companies, I can't help but cheer at this news.

Most of the people I worked at also had jobs in kitchens or were in culinary school, and the rest of us were serious about food—the staff consisted of the most passionate people I've ever met and who were thrilled to share their knowledge with their coworkers and customers. So when a customer came in and insisted that the All-Clad non-stick fry pan was the best because Cook's Illustrated said it was, it infuriated me to not be able to tell them that 1. All-Clad's non-stick coating was going to fail unless you babied it, and 2. it was made of the same cheap PTFE (Teflon) as $20 pans you could buy anywhere (though yes, they are made in the USA), 3 . that aluminum core means nothing when the way it's adhered to the pan is straight up inferior to something like a Scanpan or Swiss Diamond, which were cheaper and had a lifetime guarantee and actually were innovative with the material they use for non-stick.

Perhaps the reason I have such a strong reaction when thinking about CI/ATK in regards to their love affair of All-Clad is that I remember a customer holding an issue of CI in her hands while screaming that I was a "fat bitch who doesn't know what she's talking about" after I explained that the All-Clad pan that she wanted was out of stock, but that I could recommend some other pans that were even more beloved by our staff. It escalated so quickly that it became one of those perfect "retail is hell" stories; if I was in contact with more of my coworkers I think they'd all agree, people who held religiously to whatever Christopher Kimball said tended to be the meanest, craziest customers.

We were told from a few of the sales reps who repped the products that CI/ATK recommended that their recommendations were actually sponsored deals, and while I don't know if that's true, I can't believe that they really do test all the products objectively based on seeing the most utter garbage products be promoted over equipment that I personally knew to be failsafe. (Though they're right on about Forschner knives.)
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 2:50 PM on November 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm pretty sure he's not a shill for those companies at all? I get that it was annoying for you, but the magazine has been quite good I believe not shilling at all for anything. (The podcast has your standard Harry's razor ads but other than I don't think they're shilling at all?)

Though perhaps I'm mistaken, and those people sound awful.
posted by Carillon at 3:11 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


By "shill" I just meant that Cook Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen recommends those products—I realize that wasn't the right way to put it. But I stand by my assertion that I find it frustrating that Christopher Kimball would talk about how great certain products were that I knew to be inferior.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 3:19 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


If Julia and Bridget stick around, I'll keep watching. My family is moving from Fancy San Francisco to the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania, and for the first time those ATK "best olive oil you can buy at any suburban monstro-mart" recommendations should really come in handy. And to just offer a defense against accusations that they encourage mechanical cooking by formula, I've always enjoyed the way they focus on the specific way one or two steps of a recipe works; as a bumbling-but-improving home cook I've found those tidbits helpful when just trying to throw something together.

Still, I'll definitely miss Chris. There's already a needless tangle of different "properties" (CI, CC, ATK) to sift through on the website, but I've always imagined the monetization and content of the show would be so much worse if he wasn't there exercising a Founder's Prerogative to, for example, keep ads out.
posted by intendedeffect at 3:20 PM on November 17, 2015


The prescriptivist cooking style just really isn't my thing. I don't think it's evil or inferior or anything. It's just not how I do things. I am not organized or disciplined enough to plan ahead and get all the specific ingredients I need and then closely follow a recipe. I like to wing it, for the most part, get stuff that's in season or on sale and then mess around with it and make things to my own tastes. (So I don't make the world's greatest spaghetti sauce, but I make my favorite spaghetti sauce.)

But everyone does things differently, and I think it's pretty great that there are all these different approaches to things that appeal to different people.

EXCEPT that yes, I get super annoyed when people start evangelizing prescriptivist cooking. I've seen it more with Alton Brown, but I think that's just because Good Eats was so popular and I guess because I've never worked in a kitchen store. But it seems that there are a lot of pretty fervent converts who believe that there's something objectively incorrect about breaking the rules as they learned them.
posted by ernielundquist at 3:32 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Some of their recommendations are weird - they are anti-wok when making Chinese food, for one, and some of their grocery-store food recommendations seem a bit perverse as well. But for me their strong suit was always, "Does frying x in y do a better job than poaching it in z? We fried and poached 200 x's to find out which worked the best..."

And while I probably enjoy cooking a bit more than Kimball does, it's true that we don't all have time to comb specialty stores for Blue Foot mushrooms and Sacha Inchi Oil when dinner needs to be on the table in an hour. If CI changes too much, I'll be disappointed.
posted by QuietDesperation at 3:36 PM on November 17, 2015


Woks only really work well if you can blast heat out on a powerful gas stove, right? If you're writing a general cooking magazine I can see being anti-wok as a heuristic.
posted by kenko at 3:40 PM on November 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Kenko - you can get a ring which you set the wok on so it hovers over an electric stove element. Works fine for me.
posted by QuietDesperation at 3:45 PM on November 17, 2015


By "shill" I just meant that Cook Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen recommends those products

Un, you mean aside from the last paragraph of your comment, where you repeated gossip accusing him of secretly being compensated by manufacturers for recommending their products?
posted by Ian A.T. at 3:49 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yup, right after I said that I didn't know if it was true! Considering that it was coming from sales reps (plural) who sold the products being recommended, I'm not sure if it's gossip or something that's not a secret, just not advertised. Looking over their website about product reviews they never say that they're not compensated, they claim to be "thorough, honest, and uncompromising"—which cynically, I don't think says anything.

I've long since left that job and don't work in a related industry, so I have no way of confirming, so maybe it was shitty of me to put that in there. But like I said several times, the products being recommended often didn't make sense to anyone with even a passing knowledge of them, they'd often pass up great pieces of equipment that were widely available and fairly inexpensive, and recommend something more expensive and less practical. I can pull out examples, but I'm feeling defensive and instead I'll drop it.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 4:01 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I once got off the CI auto-send videos and books (and bill immediately) list for 2 glorious months before they snuck my name and address back on that list.

I've made a bunch of published CI recipes, and my mom is a recipe tester for the magazine, which is fascinating to see what half-baked recipes she gets sent and what gets published. And the recipes are all tested out of season. "Use fresh apple cider!" a recipe will say, at a time when most locales in the US aren't producing fresh apples being pressed, and the "fresh" apple cider in grocery stores at that time is swill preserved and altered within an inch of its life. We live in a college town with a variety of markets specializing in various cuisines, and she has sometimes had to drive 2 hours to a megalopolis to get specified ingredient (and it is usually for 1 tsp, and not noticable in the final recipe).

I sometimes find Cooks Illustrated recipes to over-worked. One year I decided to make the CI lemon curd squares instead of the old school Joy of Cooking lemon curd squares that are a Christmas favorite around here. 12 lemons and 3.5 hours later, I had lemon curd squares that were no better than the JoC recipe. I will say this: I now add 3x as much lemon to the JoC recipe these days, and the resulting bars are better than the CI recipe in half the time and 1/4 the eyerolling.
posted by julen at 4:15 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


One thing I have noticed is that that teaspoon might not impart the flavor of whatever it is in the dish, but it still somehow makes it better. Pepper is that way for me. I hate it if I can pick out the flavor, yet somehow leaving it out will often make a dish much less tasty in the end.
posted by wierdo at 4:39 PM on November 17, 2015


The prescriptivist cooking style just really isn't my thing. I don't think it's evil or inferior or anything. It's just not how I do things.

Yeah, it certainly has it's place. Like if you're really going to plan something big and special it's worth investigating techniques and hunting down ingredients. But what I always say is, if the only way you know how to cook is following specific recipes, what happens when you open the cupboard and find you don't have all the right stuff for any of the recipes you know? You might miss the fact that you have the makings of a perfectly fine dish, just because you don't have a recipe written out already.

(One night last fall I was trying to think of what to do for dinner when I didn't have anything specific planned. "Well, hey, I've got Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms, and a little pancetta...what if I just sautéed those all up in a pan with maybe some garlic and then tossed it with pasta?" This is now one of my favorite go-to meals that I specifically plan for. I feel that in order to be able to do this kind of "what if..." cooking, what you need are techniques and concepts, not prescriptivist step-by-step recipes.)

they are anti-wok when making Chinese food, for one

Having recently purchased a carbon steel wok, I definitely think they're wrong there. I love it. My stove is gas, true, but I'm in a rented apartment so it's not any sort of fancy high-output stove, and even so the wok has worked SO much better than the pan I was using to attempt stir-fries before. Defer to Grace Young, a better expert on woks than ATK on this point.
posted by dnash at 4:42 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm sad to hear about this, but hopeful that Bridget and Julia, et al., will be allowed to steer for a while. Even so, Kimbell is to be admired for sticking to his principles. I do worry how far from his vision his business partners wanted to stray for him to hold out like this.

Fnarf: “The least-surprising: he thinks people who change even the slightest little thing in a recipe of his are traitors to the craft of cooking and should be up against a wall and shot.”
I read in some recent-ish profile — which I can't find just now, of course — that he doesn't mind if you change things, but doesn't want to hear about it if the recipe doesn't work after you change it. On the other hand, I also read in one of the links in the post that he feels like the recipes in CI are contracts between the Test Kitchen and the home cook so it does bother him when people won't just follow the recipe.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:43 PM on November 17, 2015


Kenko - you can get a ring which you set the wok on so it hovers over an electric stove element. Works fine for me.

kenko was referring to the amount of heat, not element type. Proper wok stir-frying requires really really high heat, more than a lot of home stoves put out. You can buy gadgets to rectify that, and I know people that have used canning stoves, but ATK won't recommend stir-frying in a wok if it won't work well on a low-end stove.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:51 PM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


You guys, I just thought of something.

Wouldn't it be awesome if Greg Norton took over as the host of America's Test Kitchen?
posted by pxe2000 at 6:36 PM on November 17, 2015


What? That's great news! Hey everyone, Greg Nog is the new host of ATK! Pass it on!
posted by Room 641-A at 7:21 PM on November 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


I always liked AI because it reminds me of my father. A scientist, he used to get fixated on making numerous versions of one dish, testing every variable until it was perfected. Then he lost interest and moved on. Sometimes he made inventions to increase his ability to control variables, e.g., a box lined in flashing and featuring a lightbulb and a thermostat, which he used to raise bread dough at a constant temperature, or a contraption to stir a pot continuously.

Anyway, I may have told this story here before, but he went on an apple pie kick and made them two or three times a week for quite a while. Then one day my parents went to a dinner party, at the home of people they didn’t know well. Dessert arrived. My father decided it was the best apple pie he’d ever tasted and cornered the hostess. He begged for her recipe, regaling her with all the details of his efforts: many kinds of apples in various combinations, the science of thickening agents, different proportions of various spices, umpteen crust variations, the conversion of all ingredients to grams, etc. Looking somewhat alarmed, she took a few steps back, and so my father intensified his efforts to convey his sincere wish for enlightenment. Desperate, he finally yelped something out about how he had already made over 50 apple pies and would she please, please, please indulge him by revealing her secret!! After a moment, she replied, “They’re pears.”

My poor father never knew whether she experienced his remarks as complementary or insulting.
posted by carmicha at 8:29 PM on November 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


So, scuttlebutt on the publishing vines is that he made a serious enemy in wife #2, by sexing up his very much younger assistant, whom he divorced A. to marry. Only, A. came from the same superWASP background as he did, and a lot of the initial money was hers, which is why she is still on the board, and he is not.

That a bunch of ex-Bain mbas were brought in certainly doesn't bode well for anyone, because frankly, those people should be clubbed like baby seals, but from what I've heard, A. just stopped protecting him from himself, and let him implode. While giggling. Cause no recipe in the world tastes as good as Schadenfreude.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:51 PM on November 17, 2015 [14 favorites]


I enjoyed my subscription to Cooks Illustrated when I had it*, though I have to admit, I liked the Cooks Country magazine better.
Not only are there color photos (sorry, CK, but telling someone to cook a recipe to a certain color doesn't work when you're using B&W illustrations for an example...) but the recipes are less fussy and more likely to be something I will make.

I am a little surprised to find out he wasn't the owner of the IP though. I always figured Cooks Illustrated was his baby through and through.

* I didn't run into any zombie subscriptions when cancelling, it was a while ago though, so maybe that is a recent development.
posted by madajb at 9:15 PM on November 17, 2015


But I stand by my assertion that I find it frustrating that Christopher Kimball would talk about how great certain products were that I knew to be inferior.

If someone is buying something just because ATK says it's the best, then yeah, there's not much you can do to dissaude them.

For me, the value in the equipment reviews* is that they are usually upfront about what their selection criteria are.
So if all of their testers preferred a 4 slot toaster, there is usually something that says, "The XYZ toaster was just as good as our pick, but the 3 slot capacity dropped it out of the running" or "Our testing showed that an 8 inch knife is the best choice, but a strong minority preferred a 9 inch knife".
Sometimes their choices might not be what you'd recommend, but at least you know why.

*The food comparisons are the same way, but somewhat less useful, because one person's "overly sweet" is another person's "Is this sugar-free?"
On the other hand, if they say something is bland, you can sure as hell bet it's probably essentially flavourless!

posted by madajb at 9:36 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


He is also my cooking equivalent to Garrison Keillor, and I am giddily waving goodbye!

We will never see eye to eye.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:13 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not being familiar with America's Test Kitchen, I'm just going to miss The Toast's Letters from Chris Kimball. I am especially fond of any bit from the letters that makes me hiss "Jesus Christ, Mallory!" in delighted horror, which in this last letter was this part:

I remember a time before chicken dinners at the Presbyterian hall behind the fire house. Before bric-a-brac sales. Before Jim Standish put the sign “Gas – $8.50 a gallon” to keep the tourists moving past the weigh-in station. I remember a time before hot. Before cold. Before eyes opened, when all mouths were closed, when nothing moved without permission. I remember it all, and I’ll remember you too when I shake the dust from my feet. I hope the Devil learns your name.


My life does not have sufficient drama to ever require me to intone the amazingly foreboding threat of "I hope the Devil learns your name" at an enemy, but I almost wish it did because come on. It's perfect.
posted by yasaman at 10:29 PM on November 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


I mean this Greg Norton. (Although a Greg Nog cooking show would probably be awesome, TBH.)
posted by pxe2000 at 7:35 AM on November 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


That's a juicy bit of boardroom gossip, SecretAgentSockpuppet. I wonder if it's true? It rings true. FWIW, the second wife was Adrienne Kimball; they divorced in 2012. The third wife is Melissa Lee Baldino; she's been involved in the show since 2002.

I'm intensely curious about the corporate structure behind America's Test Kitchen. Like folks have said the whole empire feels like it's Christopher Kimball's thing. But apparently not, and now he's been forced out. I feel bad for him. So many times The Talent is gifted but naive about business and politics.

Anyone have a line on the corporate structure? Here's the Bloomberg profile but it's not very helpful. It's a limited partnership, not sure how many records would be available.
posted by Nelson at 8:23 AM on November 18, 2015


The thing is, though, it's not like their parameters for "best" are uncontentious. You'll see someone a cookie recipe or whatever and the author will say "I [or our tasters] wanted a chewier texture, so …" and then the recipe proceeds from there, with one parameter nailed down, as further options are explored and limited. Great. But maybe I don't want a chewier texture.

Yes, this exactly. Their chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe calls for rolling the dough into a ball, then tearing it roughly in half, flipping the halves around, and mooshing the halves back together. Supposedly, it helps give the cookie a better texture. I just rolled them all into balls and did just a couple that I tore in half. I could tell that they were different but I couldn't say which I like better. The whole tearing in half thing was a GIANT PITA so now I just skip it and the most common comment is still, "These are the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had."
posted by VTX at 9:51 AM on November 18, 2015


Having recently purchased a carbon steel wok, I definitely think they're wrong there. I love it. My stove is gas, true, but I'm in a rented apartment so it's not any sort of fancy high-output stove, and even so the wok has worked SO much better than the pan I was using to attempt stir-fries before.

I foresee a trip to the wok shop in my future, then.
posted by kenko at 10:08 AM on November 18, 2015


It really depends on your stove tbh, I've used my wok on 3 different stoves, make sure whatever you have it can get decent heat. My wok's worked great on my first stove which was gas and my third and current stove which is electric. The second stove wasn't great which is why I got my landlord to replace it and the stove itself just didn't handle the wok well.
posted by Carillon at 10:12 AM on November 18, 2015


Serious Eats has some good advice on using a wok on an electric cooktop.

Also, don't just put the wok on the stove and turn the heat to high. You'll get uneven heating that way. This goes for all pans, by the way, this is on the mistakes I see people make a lot when cooking on the stove, especially with cast iron. Start on low for a few minutes, hold you hand over it and see if it's heating evenly, then go up to medium and wait until the pan heats evenly to that high temp, then you can crank it to high. You add your oil after it's hot, not while it's heating up, otherwise your oil is going to get too hot and your food will stick and burn.

An easy way to determine when the pan is hot: splash a few droplets of water on the surface. If they fizzle and evaporate immediately, it's not hot enough. It's when you throw a few drops of water in and they dance around that you should add your oil, give it a few seconds, then add your ingredients.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:53 AM on November 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


It does seem weird that they ask people to go through so much extra work pulling cookie dough apart in the name of an almost unnoticeable improvement to the dish (well, cookies) but they recommend NOT using a wok because a large regular fry pan does almost as good a job.

Is it worth extraordinary measures for that last 1% of optimization or not ATK?
posted by VTX at 11:04 AM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is it worth extraordinary measures for that last 1% of optimization or not ATK?

More work can be seen as a less extraordinary measure than buying (and cleaning and storing) a thing.
posted by Etrigan at 11:06 AM on November 18, 2015


> I mean this Greg Norton. (Although a Greg Nog cooking show yt would probably be awesome, TBH.)

Cookin' With Gregs (60 min) Greg challenges Greg to make a grilled cheese sandwich while wearing puppets on his hands, and Greg has to make a tomato soup using only the ingredients found in his drummer's medicine cabinet.
posted by ardgedee at 12:33 PM on November 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Throw in Greg Proops and I'll back the highest level of your Kickstarter.
posted by Etrigan at 12:43 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Prescriptivist cooking is precisely how most people learn what works and what doesn't, and then they are free to branch out. Whenever I need to learn something, I look at about three different recipes and decide which one is going to work within my constraints (cooking time, ingredients, etc) and then modify if necessary.

It's silly to dislike it IMO, most people in my experience are not at all good at cooking and step 1 for them is to follow recipes to the letter and learn about specific techniques so that when it says "sear" they know what that means with zero ambiguity. It's sort of how most "fit" people can "eyeball" food and essentially count calories and carbs without a lot of effort, but a good chunk of them had to do it the hard tedious way for quite some time to get the hang of it, and then they might turn around and tell people "calorie counting is pointless" because they forgot it's exactly what they used 5 years ago.

Prescriptivism is exactly how baking works, there's no way around it in that world. And when it comes to not screwing up $10-20 worth of meat? You better have a prescriptive foundation on how not to suck at cooking it.

CI / ATK / etc are a great foundation, just like Alton Brown's recipes. Both Kimball and Brown are extremely fussy, and with time any reasonably intelligent person who cares enough about cooking to want to know their maximalist approach will learn how to tone things down on their own.
posted by aydeejones at 4:00 PM on November 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


BTW I ruined a $10 markdown piece of brisket yesterday because I didn't realize it was just a tad bit smaller than the brisket I made a few weeks ago. I did it in the crock pot, and had the brisket all the way at the bottom for way too long. It sucked. I've been cooking for 20+ years and it was a bummer, but it would've been nice to be following a prescriptivist recipe that said "here's a basic formula for how long to cook depending on the mass, and be sure to put a bunch of veggies at the bottom of the crockpot so that the meat doesn't get brutalized." In fact, the first time around I had a bunch of carrots on the bottom and the meat came out wonderfully tender, but my kids hated how soft the carrots were. This time, I had them on top and waiting until the last few hours, and the meat was overcooked and the carrots were under-done, but edible. The potatoes, nope :( and the meat was dry AF :( :(

Tonight I'm making up for it with steak au poivre following my memory of Alton's recipe, which I had to refer to many times before committing it.
posted by aydeejones at 4:03 PM on November 18, 2015


Prescriptivism is exactly how baking works, there's no way around it in that world

Depends greatly on what you're baking. I wing it on the regular with galettes (including for the dough) and am pretty seldom disappointed. I made sourdough bread this weekend with a starter that hadn't been fed in 24 hours (my very prescriptivist cookbook wanted it to be fed the night before, i.e. 12 hours before), with 1000 gr bread flour instead of 900 gr bread flour / 100 gr whole wheat, and with too much water (per the book). It was great. I like this plum cake and the last several times I made it used apricots and added 1/2 cup of milk; it makes the dough spread more easily and gives the baked up cake a softer texture. And last time I made it I doubled the recipe and used poached quince instead of plums or apricots.
posted by kenko at 4:27 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


But what I always say is, if the only way you know how to cook is following specific recipes, what happens when you open the cupboard and find you don't have all the right stuff for any of the recipes you know? You might miss the fact that you have the makings of a perfectly fine dish, just because you don't have a recipe written out already.

...I feel that in order to be able to do this kind of "what if..." cooking, what you need are techniques and concepts, not prescriptivist step-by-step recipes

I've been cooking seriously -- as in, making most of my meals at home largely from scratch now -- for a couple of years. I totally get that being able to cook "off-recipe," if you will, is definitely more flexible. On a personal level, for instance, I rarely look at fried rice recipes now (though make this tom yum fried rice, it is absolutely scrumptious) because I feel comfortable whipping together a fried rice at any time. Tonight in fact, I just made a fried rice with leftover three-cup chicken, pickled mustard greens and some frozen vegetables for dinner.

But I feel like I can't be the only person who had to cook from specific recipes for a long time to get to this level. It wasn't until I had made several different fried rices from particular recipes successfully that I was able to gain a sense of what worked, how the general "fried rice" technique works and how I might be able to generalize that, for instance.

To aydeejones' point a couple of comments up, I think cooks often forget how non-intuitive cooking can be at the beginning. (When I was 19, I literally did not know what to do with a head of broccoli when I got it at the store, I am not joking.) If at the beginning of my cooking career I had just read a general template for stir-frying rice without a prescriptivist recipe, I would have been way too intimidated to start, not to mention the fact that I would have no idea how it would turn out. Also, to be frank, I started cooking because I wanted to replicate specific Chinese dishes, not just make random stir-fries, so at least for me I definitely was looking for specific recipes.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that while I agree that "off-recipe" cooking is ultimately the goal, for me at least there's absolutely no way I could have gotten to "techniques and concepts" without a long period of "prescriptivist step-by-step recipes" along the way. Maybe the best analogy is to induction and deduction -- I was definitely an "inductive cook" who needed lots of specific observations to get to a broad understanding.
posted by andrewesque at 6:06 PM on November 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Despite Kimball's prescriptivist values, I actually think one of the most valuable parts of Cooks Illustrated is not the recipes -- though some of those are fantastic, and if you have not made their mushroom lasagna, you should -- but the description of things they tried and how they did and didn't work together. Those descriptions are a master class in how to cook off-book and still end up with results you can predict. That's not how they're presented, I realize, but if you read the recipes and understand why some things work and some things don't, you can get a lot of information from their process, a lot more than you'd get from simply cooking the recipes as instructed.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:02 PM on November 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


tocts: "sorry Ted Allen, I like you a lot, but Chopped is a snorefest"

WHAT
posted by Chrysostom at 9:46 PM on November 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Prescriptivist cooking is precisely how most people learn what works and what doesn't, and then they are free to branch out.

This is really true of most skills. Music comes to mind as the easiest comparison, specifically, playing guitar. You start out learning how to read music and playing the notes exactly as they're written. Then you expand the types and complexity of the music you're playing, incorporate and learn more advanced techniques. Somewhere along the way, you have enough understanding that you can start to improvise, through in a bit spice and flavor. Eventually, you get good enough at it that you can wail out a face melting solo that you make up as you go along using every one of those techniques you developed playing notes that others had written for you. But, a song that is just three minutes of guitar solo is kind of weird so a good song ends up being a combination of simple ingredients (like a simple chord progression) with a bit of extra spice added in, (maybe slightly different voicing of the same chords and/or a little improvised fill), and you can throw in a nice solo if you want but it doesn't have to be in every song.

I'm sure there are people who do something else at a high level that can draw similar parallels.
posted by VTX at 7:46 AM on November 19, 2015


I was first introduced to Cooks Illustrated about 15 or so years ago by a programmer friend who described it, with a great deal of zeal, as axiomatic cooking. I think that is generally true of Cooks Illustrated. Intrigued I’ve picked up the occasional magazine and have been a subscriber to the website off and on over the years. Weirdly, I’ve never actually watched America’s Test Kitchen so my exposure to Kimball has largely been via is Letters from Vermont which have reminded me always of a prissy Garrison Keillor.

While it is true that some of the recipes are fussy, more often than not there is a reason for it. The preambles to the recipes explain their choices, describing what worked and what didn’t. The recipes also teach advanced techniques, covertly or overtly, to the home cook and explain why things work and why they don’t. To the non-prescriptivists out there, this isn't a bad thing. Having a knowledge of technique is never bad. I’ll add that there are indeed CI recipes that are actually easy & straightforward. I think generally, I’ve liked most of the recipes I’ve tried. I’ve modified some, simplified others, never made others again. You just need to know how to read them.

That being said I think the CI does a disservice to many non-American cuisines and more adventurous palettes. Universally the tasters seem to aim for a middle of the road palette. Which is fine but if you don’t know this going in to a recipe you might be disappointed. I think they have a good handle on Italian & Italian American food. Some of their recipes for simpler versions of complex European dishes I think are ok. The Chinese food is pretty pedestrian but provides acceptable equivalents to restaurant food. However they are consistently way off on anything Indian and anything remotely with an Indian flavour palette.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:13 AM on November 19, 2015


But what's great about Cooks Illustrated is it's not axiomatic. It's experimental. There's lots of testing behind their recommendations, they give you the reasons. I love the scientific nerdery of it. My main complaint with the growing empire is each new product they put out seems to dumb it down even more. Go back to the nerdy science!

This seems like a good place to mention that J. Kenji Lopez-Alt has a new book out, "The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science". I haven't seen the book yet but I like his online writing.
posted by Nelson at 8:45 AM on November 19, 2015


To be clear, I think my friend's take on CI, regarding it being axiomatic, was that through their experimentation they derive their cooking truth. The prescriptivist nature, or as he might say the inherent self-evident logic, of the recipes was something he relished. For me, while I appreciated experimentation and the active problem solving, I've always approached the recipes as a baseline in order to expand my own experimentation.
posted by Ashwagandha at 11:54 AM on November 19, 2015


I'd make a distinction between the CI-style prescriptivism and cause and effect cooking instruction. It's one thing to describe the most efficient way to accomplish some specific goal (al dente pasta, a medium rare steak, etc.) or to present a recipe that's just "Here is how to replicate this specific thing." But CI goes beyond that and presents "The One True Way to Make Mashed Potatoes," as though it's some objective truth with no room for deviance, and the way Kimball would talk about it in interviews made it sound as though he really believed that.

People have different tastes and preferences, and that's OK. Some people like lumps in their mashed potatoes. Some people leave the skin on. Some have strong preferences for the type of potatoes they use.

Similarly, some people like to learn more through repetition, and others learn better through direct experimentation. People can do things differently without anyone being wrong.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:49 PM on November 19, 2015


People can do things differently without anyone being wrong.

Madness!
posted by Chrysostom at 2:37 PM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think I have the luxury of making most recipes exactly as layed out. Either I can't get ingredients at a reasonable price (or just can't get them at all), or I have to alter the flavor profile to take into account MuddDude's anosmia. I don't have a CI subscription, but I know Alton Brown's recipes usually require quite a bit more spice and heat for our household, and usually less salt. I'm far from an accomplished and talented home cook - I just started this year and I'm muddling along as best I can.

I don't care that Chris Kimball or anyone else are cooking prescriptivists, but Kimball sells a product, and calling the consumers of that product entitled because we are living lives different from his is what frustrated me about that interview.
posted by muddgirl at 3:31 PM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


But CI goes beyond that and presents "The One True Way to Make Mashed Potatoes," as though it's some objective truth with no room for deviance

And somehow manages to do it with a straight face, even though they presented a very different "one true way to make mashed potatoes" two years ago.

That said, I know this because I've been a subscriber long enough to get at least 3 different ways to make roast whole chickens. I DO like Cooks Illustrated, but I like it despite the house style, which would get REALLY old if it came out more than 6 times a year.
posted by Gygesringtone at 3:41 PM on November 19, 2015


Oh, I forgot to mention time-savey shit, like using canned sauce instead of fresh, or cream of mushroom soup, or using a rotisserie chicken.
posted by muddgirl at 5:57 AM on November 20, 2015


And somehow manages to do it with a straight face, even though they presented a very different "one true way to make mashed potatoes" two years ago.

While also providing you all the information that you need to expertly deviate from that recipe.
posted by VTX at 6:04 AM on November 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's what I like about CI. Okay, there's not really a Platonic ideal chocolate chip cookie. But they go through and say, "We added less baking soda, and that made it too crispy." Which, if you want a crispy cookie, now you know how to do it.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:59 AM on November 20, 2015


I love this magazine and shows.

Bridgett and Julia could do it, said it for years. Jack is my man. He was on board early with CI.

And Adam needs to review some medical confections knowwhattaimsayin
posted by clavdivs at 12:46 PM on November 22, 2015


« Older The mother lode of cinematic food puns   |   UCLA Game Lab: cultivating the subversive in game... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments