It’s been a rough year for amiable, good-natured cooking programs. In September, The Great British Bake Off lost three-fourths of its central ensemble when it was announced the show would be moving out of BBC. Now, the Boston Globe reports that America’s Test Kitchen, the empire behind the cookbook/TV series of the same name and Cook’s Illustrated magazine, is suing Christopher Kimball, its genial, bow-tied founder and one-time on-air personality.
America’s Test Kitchen alleges that in creating his new venture, Milk Street, Kimball “literally and conceptually ripped off America’s Test Kitchen.” Milk Street (originally called Milk Street Kitchen) is a multimedia company encompassing a print magazine, website, cooking school, cookbooks, and more.
According to the lawsuit, Kimball—Saturday afternoons on PBS in human form—spent his last year with the company secretly using its databases and recipes to position Milk Street as a direct competitor to America’s Test Kitchen. Words like “conspiracy” are being thrown around, and there’s talk of e-mails that show Kimball and associates seeking office space, obtaining media contact lists, copying recipes, and, presumably, cracking jokes about how Milk Street “will be America’s best kitchen.”
Jack Bishop, chief creative officer at America’s Test Kitchen, says seeing how Milk Street’s magazine clearly ripped off Cook’s Illustrated was the last straw. He says the company wants a change in the way Kimball is positioning Milk Street, not to mention “some form of financial recompense.”
“He kept on saying he wasn’t going to compete,” said Bishop. “I took him at his word. I think everyone on the board was taking him at his word.”
Gentlemen, gentlemen—how ’bout we throw a pot roast into the slow cooker, puree some parsnips, and settle things over a bottle of Malbec?