The Craft of Cooking

Longreads

Jessica Gross | Longreads | June 2015 | 18 minutes (4,479 words)

In 1980, 29-year-old Christopher Kimball enrolled in a cooking class and was so frustrated by his instructors’ inability to answer his questions that he started his own cooking magazine. Cook’s Magazine, since reborn as Cook’s Illustrated, presents a small number of recipes refined through extraordinarily rigorous testing by the cooks in Kimball’s 2,500-square-foot kitchen lab. The bimonthly magazine—which features only black-and-white illustrations—eschews a focus on “lifestyle” in favor of treating cooking as a discipline and a craft. Over the years, Cook’s Illustrated has garnered a large and loyal readership—and spawned an empire, including a second magazine, Cook’s Country; many cookbooks; and two television shows. “America’s Test Kitchen,” the most popular cooking show on public television, is currently in its 15th season. We spoke by phone about what it takes to write a…

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