A few years ago, I stumbled upon a program on PBS called “Cook’s Country“. I fell in love with it and started recording re-runs. Not only did they demo recipes, they also provided general cooking tips and had fun segments featuring product recommendations and blind taste testings to determine the best ingredients. It was so different from any other cooking show I’d seen.
I think what I love so much about their approach in the show is discussing the “how” & “why” of cooking, rather than just featuring a recipe and finishing the show with the standard sign off of, “Mmm…it’s delicious. Trust me!” Of course I love to cook and eat great tasting food but I think what I love even more is understanding why it tastes so good and how to replicate it again or in another recipe variation.
Of course I came to realize that “Cook’s Country” was a spin off of “America’s Test Kitchen” with both shows featuring Christopher Kimball (founder of Cooks Illustrated magazine), in his ever present bow tie, radiating of all sorts of culinary knowledge.
Rewind to just over a week ago. My husband emails me at work to say there is an event coming to the Milwaukee Public Market (which is totally awesome, by the way), sponsored by our local PBS station, and featuring Christopher Kimball and Bridget Lancaster of America’s Test Kitchen.
I made reservations that day.
Something gets me really excited about seeing a celebrity foodie/chef/personality in person. Last night, this event was no exception. Maybe I was so excited because I had a small hope that I’d soak up a fifth of their extensive knowledge via osmosis since I was in the same room as them.
The event was to launch their new cookbook, The Science of Good Cooking, and the upcoming seasons of their TV shows. In addition to Christopher and Bridget, Jake Bishop (the resident taste-tester) also made an appearance.
We had an audience taste test of milk chocolate, a Q&A session with the chefs, and the opportunity to get a copy of their new cookbook signed by all three.
|That’s me chatting with Bridget!|
Here are the big takeaways from the event:
1. Dove Milk Chocolate ranked highest with the audience and the tasting panel back at America’s Test Kitchen. This was over Nestle (the least favorite) and the much more expensive Scharffen Berger, which everyone agreed tasted much more like semi-sweet than milk chocolate.
|Our tasting kit with three samples of milk chocolate and crackers|
2. The annual food budget for America’s Test Kitchen is $450,000. Man, would I like a slice of that towards recipes for this blog!
3. Leaf lard is the absolute best fat to use when making pies according to Christopher Kimball. Leaf lard is the fat nearest to the organs of the pig. I’ve since researched that it runs about $20/pound. No wonder their food budget is so high!
4. Bridget Lancaster is married to a Scotsman. Apparently his accent is so thick, the first few weeks she was dating her future husband, she thought his name was Scott. His name is really Stephen.
5. If given the choice, they’d like their last suppers on this earth to be:
Christopher: Pot-au-feu (traditional French beef stew)
Bridget: Platter of pork including pulled pork, ribs, bacon, sausage gravy, and the leaf lard Christopher recommended earlier
Jack: His grandmother’s traditional Italian Sunday dinner
6. Christopher carries a bow-tie stamp to finish his signature at book signings. We joked about how he should carry the stamp around all the time and sign restaurant checks with the stamp only.
It was such a great night!
Next Celebrity Chef Sighting will be Ina Garten in a few weeks! That is, unless I run into Mario Batali at Crate & Barrel in the meantime…
Hey, a girl can dream!