Original America’s Test Kitchen Cast Members to Take Over Host Role
When Chris Kimball left Boston Common Press last year, the company he cofounded, fans of America’s Test Kitchen wondered about the future of the long-running public television show. Would it maintain its rigorous recipe development; would it be as fun to watch without the bespectacled, bow-tied Kimball?
This morning, the show’s producers announced that Kimball’s replacement—replacements, actually—are already quite familiar with America’s Test Kitchen and its place in the food media landscape: Original cast members Bridget Lancaster and Julia Collin Davison and will co-host the show, beginning in January 2017, the Boston Globe first reported.
“Bridget and Julia have been teaching our television audience how to cook for 16 years. Their new role leverages their incredibly rich knowledge about home cooking and we hope deepens our audience’s attachment to these respected personalities,” ATK’s new CEO David Nussbaum said in a press release. “While the show will retain its successful format, the new co-hosts will bring new energy and excitement.”
Lancaster, currently ATK’s executive food editor for new media, television, and radio, joined the company in 1998 as a test cook for Cook’s Illustrated magazine. She leads the company’s online cooking school, and she has appeared on hundreds of episodes of America’s Test Kitchen. She has a background as a pastry chef in restaurants along the East Coast, and she’s a homebrewer. She lives in the Boston area with her husband.
Davison was hired as a Cook’s Illustrated test cook in 1999, and has also been a frequent guest during America’s Test Kitchen recipe segments throughout her tenure with the company. (Lancaster and Davison has appeared on the show together only once.) Her current title is the executive food editor of Boston Common Press’ cookbook division. Her background is in restaurants, catering, and wineries, and she met her husband on the America’s Test Kitchen set 16 years ago; he helped film the show’s second season.
“[Bridget and Julia have] earned the trust of the home cooks that love our show and it makes sense to have them lead our ensemble cast into season 17,” said executive producer Mary Mullaney.
Lancaster calls the promotion “an honor.” Davison says she is excited about the new role, and feels fortunate to have joined the company “in those early days. In some sense, we grew up in the test kitchen and now embody everything America’s Test Kitchen stands for.”
The 2016 season has already been filmed with Kimball as host. America’s Test Kitchen announced his departure in November, following a contract dispute, but Kimball has since said that the split is amicable, and he will consider working with the company in some capacity going forward. He has not announced his second act, but he said his new project “will be very focused on public media.”
Kimball cofounded Cook’s Illustrated in 1992. The magazine is now produced at a 2,500-square foot kitchen in Brookline. In 2001, America’s Test Kitchen premiered, and the media company has since expanded with Cook’s Country magazine and a TV show of the same name; an online cooking school, book publishing, and a podcast. America’s Test Kitchen is the top-rated cooking show on public television.