Some people take a recipe at face value, follow it meticulously, and accept the outcome. But not Chris Kimball, host of America’s Test Kitchen. He and his Boston-based crew put recipes through grueling tests before they’re released. The founder and publisher of Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country was in St. Louis on Thursday along with his cohort, Bridget Lancaster. The two events sponsored by the St. Louis Public Library and Channel 9 attracted hundreds of fans.
Chris and Bridget have been cooking and making video and audio presentations for 18 years and have developed a lively rapport that made for a fun evening. The team pointed out that they select recipes by examining cookbooks and food histories for a given dish. From their research, they pick five recipes to test cook. The prepared dishes are set out and taste testers brought in to give their opinion of each.
The kitchen lab takes the advice of the tasters in composing a new recipe, which is sent to home cooks to check for ingredients, equipment needed, and general approval.
Kimball says, ” We don’t want recipes that work in our kitchen, but not yours.” When the approval of home testers reaches 80%, the recipe is ready for publication. Each of the full-page recipes included in their magazines has been tested numerous times and the results included. Once they conducted a test on cake carriers by driving around Boston in various vehicles to see how the cake stood up. Their goal is to find the best, quickest, easiest, and most cost efficient recipes for home use.
So where did the two New England arbiters of culinary correctness eat while in St. Louis? Pappy’s Smokehouse. Come to find out, Bridget is a great barbecue fan and was especially smitten by the St. Louis version of Gooey Butter Cake. With tastes like that, no wonder they were such a hit in Missouri.