Christopher Kimball Is Sharing the ‘New Home Cooking’ from Boston
More information on the next cooking and media venture from Christopher Kimball (and juicy details about the dispute that led to his departure last year from America’s Test Kitchen), care of the New York Times: The former face of the Brookline-based brands is developing a publishing and production company, called Milk Street Kitchen.
Instead of the frugal, New England traditions he was known for over decades as editor of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, Kimball is championing the “New Home Cooking.” That theme will cross over into a new magazine, published this fall, plus new books, a public television show filmed at a new test kitchen in the Financial District, a road show, cooking school, and branded kitchen tools.
The “new home cooking,” which Kimball has described at public appearances since he left America’s Test Kitchen, is about incorporating techniques and ingredients not typically part of the standard American repertoire.
“People in Mexico don’t cook Mexican food. They just cook dinner,” he said to a crowd at Northeastern University in February. “Everyone adapts to what they have.”
He believes that largely, American home cooks rely on northern European influences, including stews, roasts, and a lack of seasoning. But that’s changing, and he wants to help speed it up.
“There are many techniques around the world. Stir-fry is a technique. Stews in Spain different from French stews. All these combinations get unhinged from local culture and come together in different ways. You’re seeing this in restaurants and supermarkets, but home is the last place to change,” he said. “It’s often simpler, with bolder flavors. It’s a better way to cook, it can be healthier, vibrant, and more interesting.”
The Times notes that Kimball built his audience’s trust with a quite literally buttoned-up persona, tempered by the perfect combination of folksiness and wonkiness. “He doesn’t want to come off as a latecomer in a nation that has already moved past its pot-roast perspective,” according to the Gray Lady.
Kimball has said he’s not talking about “ethnic” recipes, and in fact, he doesn’t like that term. “It implies that everything is isolated,” he said at Northeastern. He plans to use his experience and authority to help a new audience incorporate different traditions and flavors into their home cooking.
On his new venture’s website, he elaborates. “I still love the cooking of New England—apple pie is still my favorite recipe of all time — but the American repertoire is only part of the story. The rest of the world has created flavor by using spices, textures, fermented sauces, chiles, and fresh herbs. This new style of cooking is more about layers of flavor, about contrast, about combining ingredients in new ways.”
Kimball signed a lease at the historic Flour and Grain Exchange building at 177 Milk Street, and a $6 million investment is currently funding the ground floor renovation. He is joined in the new venture by his wife, Melissa Baldino, a former ATK executive producer who was once his assistant, and a few others who followed him out of ATK.