Christopher Kimball Responds to the ATK Lawsuit
In the midst of launching his new company Milk Street, famously bespectacled recipe guru Christopher Kimball was dealt a bombshell lawsuit from his longtime former employers. Now, it’s clear Kimball wasn’t quite blindsided when America’s Test Kitchen sued him.
In a countersuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court, Kimball says he had to disclose a “threat of litigation” to potential Milk Street investors, the Boston Globe reports, which cost him “millions of dollars in possible investments in his new venture.”
How did it come to that? Kimball’s story differs from that of America’s Test Kitchen in a few key ways. One of the main points of ATK’s suit is that Kimball pillaged their resources—while he was still on the clock there—to help build the foundation of his new, unrelated company.
In the countersuit, Kimball argues that in summer 2015, he was informed of ATK’s plans to hire CEO David Nussbaum, who would have power over the bow-tied company co-founder and longtime face of its myriad brands. Kimball says he was asked to sign a noncompete agreement in August of last year, which he refused, the Globe reports. He says he told the board that he thought the leadership transition could damage the brand he helped build, and that he was willing to work with them toward “a mutually beneficial solution, one that involved him starting his own business.” He says he was asked to continue producing TV shows and events for ATK, but as a contractor. Kimball says he brought his concerns directly to Nussbaum, and he was fired in November 2015.
Beyond his allegation that a “threat of litigation” prevented investments in his new venture, Kimball’s countersuit also rails against the “defamatory media campaign” America’s Test Kitchen has mounted, the Globe reports, by launching WhyWeAreSuingChristopherKimball.com.
Things are certainly heating up: ATK intended to keep Kimball in its long-term plans. But in a statement following the countersuit, spokesman Joe Baerlein said that Kimball “secretly planned his new company while at the same time engaging in seemingly good faith negotiations with the ATK board.”