Monday, July 21, 2014

America's Test Kitchen on Tour

To celebrate my dad's birthday, we took him to a live America's Test Kitchen event. It was a behind the scenes look at the TV and radio program by the same name. My dad has enjoyed the show for years (Mr. G and I don't watch it, so we were clueless). We learned that the test kitchen's mission is to help everyone cook great food at home, and they try to help people accomplish this by testing kitchen equipment, comparing food products, and perfecting recipes. 

The TV and radio show's host, Christopher Kimball, was also our host. He was excellent! So funny and a great storyteller. He highlighted different parts of the show for us (a relief for this newbie) and they did some live demonstrations of the show's typical parts. 

One such part was a recipe experiment. The match up was between burgers made with store-bought ground beef and those made with freshly ground meat that is immediately cooked. They found the freshly ground meat was superior in ease of cooking, flavor, and texture. Who knew just letting the meat rest could make such a difference?

A prominent part of their show is comparing products (like 15 brands of mozzarella cheese) to find the best one. So they brought 3 brands of chocolate chips (you can see them on the middle table in the photo) for audience members to rate. The middle of the road chocolate (both in price and cocoa percentage) was actually rated best! 

Another portion of the presentation was a smell test. Volunteers from the audience were asked to smell an unknown substance (that were touted as "common kitchen items") and identify it using smell alone. Maybe I'm strange, but I was thinking this would be so much fun at a party! 

The volunteers were unsuccessful, but the first sample turned out to be maple syrup and the second was nutmeg. We of course came right home and started sniffing our condiment bottles and spice jars! And identifying them without looking is not as easy as it sounds.

Overall, I thought it was a wonderful evening. It was nice to spend time with family and enjoy a very thought-provoking presentation. Mr. G and I found one of their cookbooks at our local library, so we'll be cooking what catches our eye for the next two weeks to see if their recipes are really as great as they say! :)

How's your sense of smell? Have you heard of America's Test Kitchen?

22 comments:

  1. I think I'm going to try the sniff competition with my family over dinner. Too funny!

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    1. Cool beans! I hope you have fun :)

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  2. Oh what fun!! I wish an event like this would come to my town.

    I love america's test kitchen - their recipes are always winners. I haven't looked at any of the cookbooks, but the magazines have beautiful illustrations. Let us know what you make from the book!

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    1. I'll definitely let you know which recipes we try! :)

      You might want to try checking their events page to see if they'll be near you: http://www.americastestkitchen.com/events

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  3. I watch America's Test Kitchen (basic cable will do that to ya) and I always enjoy what they do. Even my husband who always seems to lightheartedly rib me for watching ends up hooked into what they're making or testing. ;-) Sounds like an awesome gift for your dad!

    Oh, and any spice sniffers, just be careful! My aunt choked on cinnamon because she sniffed too hard. Do it from a safe distance. There's your paranoid health advice for the day! ;-)

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    1. We should probably watch an episode or two, haha! My dad loved it :)

      I had no idea cinnamon was so powerful, goodness! I'll definitely keep my distance in the future.

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    1. It's too bad they don't visit Canada!

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  5. What a great idea for a gift! I haven't heard of the programme but I'm intrigued by the smell test! I am definitely going to try that at home :)

    PS. I posted my postcard late, but it's now on the way! And thank you so much for the awesome Dragon Lego card!!

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    1. haha, I hope your smell test goes well!

      So glad you got my postcard - can't wait for yours! :)

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  6. never heard of it but what an interesting and unique way to spend your Dad's birthday..

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    1. We've never done anything like this before, but he really enjoyed it :)

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  7. We love ATK! What a fantastic way to celebrate. I'm quite jealous! :o) Happy birthday to your dad.

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    1. Thanks! You must be back from Spain! I'll pop over to your blog to catch up :)

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  8. I am soooooooooooo jealous! Ha, ha, ha I am a huge ATK fan. I love everything about them. Now I'll have to check out using my meat grinder more often for burger.

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    1. Yeah, my husband and dad had to replicate that experiment at a family dinner, and they both agreed that the freshly ground burger was better!

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  9. I didn't know it was a TV show, but what a fun evening out that sounds like! The Cooking for Two cookbook sounds great, too.

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    1. It was! I like Cookbooks for Two because they make less food - just in case the recipe turns out to be awful! :)

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  10. What a fun event, thanks for sharing it with us.

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    1. I was a little unsure going into it since I hadn't seen the show, but it was fun :)

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  11. where is their itenary -I would like to see if they are coming to LA.

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