Contract dispute leads to Christopher Kimball’s exit from ‘America’s Test Kitchen’

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ATK Kimball

Kimball will continue to host America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country in 2016. (Photo: American Public Television)

Christopher Kimball, who co-founded America’s Test Kitchen and grew it far beyond a public television cooking show, is no longer with the business.

A contract dispute led to Kimball’s immediate departure, said David Nussbaum, c.e.o. of Boston Common Press, in a statement Monday. Boston Common Press is ATK’s parent company.

“We made every effort to offer Chris a reasonable contract that reflected his significant contributions to the company,” Nussbaum said, “and are disappointed that we could not reach agreement.”

Kimball will remain as host for the 2016 seasons of ATK and Cook’s Country, the announcement said.

Since its debut on public television in 2001, ATK has expanded into a second public TV program, Cook’s Country; a public radio show, America’s Test Kitchen Radio; an online cooking school; three websites offering recipes and videos; and a book program that publishes a dozen new titles annually.

On public TV, ATK has aired in 187 markets on 361 main stations and 349 secondary channels in 2015 to date, according to a spokesperson for Boston Common Press.

The company has undergone several major changes over the past few months, with more to come.

Nussbaum arrived in September as the first chief executive of Boston Common Press and board chair. Previously he was c.e.o. of F+W Media Inc., a publisher and e-commerce company in New York City.

In October, the company promoted Jack Bishop, a longtime editor at ATK, to chief creative officer. Bishop now oversees ATK, Cook’s Illustrated magazine, Cook’s Country magazine and television show, and ATK’s digital and book projects, as well as new initiatives.

Boston Common Press said it plans to hire an additional 25 staff members in content, television production and digital media over the next six months.

ATK also expects to announce a multimedia program on the science of food and cooking early next year, based on its recent best-seller, The Science of Good Cooking.

Boston Common Press announced three appointments Friday:

  • Fran Middleton, previously v.p. of digital products, was named chief digital officer. He is responsible for all online products and websites, as well as “new endeavors,” a press release said.
  • Jackie McCauley Ford joins the company Dec. 1 as chief financial officer, focusing on growth opportunities and partnerships. Previously she was a director at Corporate Finance Group Inc., a Boston financial consulting firm.
  • Colleen Zelina started work Monday as s.v.p. of human resources and organizational development. She formerly served as s.v.p. human resources at the business news ALM Media in New York City.

Update: Read Current’s exclusive interview with Christopher Kimball here.