Cook's Illustrated Editor Wages Online Food Fight


Photo composite: Eat Me Daily

The saga of Chris "Broccoli Casserole" Kimball and his war against the internet continues: Kimball has challenged crowd-sourced recipe sites — calling out Amanda Hesser's Food52 in particular — to duel it out against his immaculate test kitchens. Like a jealous older sibling, Kimball's attention-getting techniques just aren't gonna hack it against the newer, shinier, cuter internet.

While the recipes Cooks Illustrated churns out are no doubt perfection, how on earth can his team of scientists compete against, um, the entire internet? It's not just yahoos out here, Kimball. Some of us have the skills, credentials, and now, thanks to you, the motivation to beat the best you've got. We've got your back, Hesser. [via The Food Section]

Update: Food 52 responds and notices that Kimball removed the reference to Amanda Hesser and Food 52. It originally read (Google cache will get you, Kimball): "Should be fun! Who is interested? Amanda? Anyone else?" later changing it to "Should be fun! Who is interested?"

Update #2: Even Gawker gets in on the action, calling Kimball the "trolling cook."

—Paula Forbes

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Comment Feed

  1. Dorian Gray

    Cagematch! Paula vs. Kimball!

  2. 10001

    The internet will crush you Chris "Broccoli Casserole" Kimball!!!

  3. me

    You're gonna get PWND the internet has 1337 skills in everything.

  4. Moira

    In any cooking contest, America's Test Kitchen is likely to win, especially if they are up against the Internet.

    Kimball and his associates know exactly what results they want, and they keep testing (and testing) until they get the perfect, usually fool-proof recipe.

    The Internet, on the other hand, is anarchy. Just sifting through all the permutations of a recipe takes so long that ATK will have not only made their recipe, they will have eaten it, done the dishes, and gone home before the crowd-sourced site has finished buying all their ingredients.

    This is actually the strength of the Food 52 website - they are doing all of that testing and winnowing of recipes for us, and are, in essence, duplicating what ATK does. Food 52 draws on a much larger base, and it doesn't explain the failures in detail the way ATK does, but testing and publishing their best recipe is what it is all about.

    Within the limited time of a conest, and considering that a crowd-sourced site has to not only hope that they get the perfect recipe, but also that they will find it in time - well, good luck with that.

    • Paula

      Well, now, that depends on the style of the contest, doesn't it? We're talking about testing methodology, not end result, so I suspect any contest of this nature would have to sample several recipes--and that speed would not play a particularly large role in it. More accurate would be to test, say, 10 recipes from each source--each source's roast chicken, each source's brownies, etc., and go from there with, I suspect, some sort of rating system.

      Anarchy is an advantage here--America's Test Kitchen recipes work perfectly in the test kitchen, which is perfect. If you're crowd-sourcing recipes, you have the advantage of having them tested in all sorts of conditions. User-tested recipes will, by their definition, work for a broader base of people.

  5. Sue

    I love Christopher Kimball. He is authentic, talented and personable. I don't love Amanda Hesser--she is so mean-spirited, I don't care how talented she is.

  6. Midge

    Sue, I think you've made a mistake - clearly you don't understand the meaning of "personable" - Chris Kimball is about as personable as a paper towel roll. He is authoritarian, snooty and oh-so-dull. I find his commentary in his show and newsletter to be boring and filled with self-importance. Amanda Hesser, on the other hand, is as mean-spirited as a labrador. She is so talented, on the pulse of the times and always excited to discover something new or to talk with people. I have yet to read anything mean in her writing and truly think you must be confusing her with someone else.

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