Christopher Kimball and America’s Test Kitchen Settle Lawsuit


The long legal battle between America’s Test Kitchen and Christopher Kimball, the company’s founder who left and started a similar cooking and media enterprise called Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street, is over.

Both sides have resolved their differences, which came to a head in October 2016 when America’s Test Kitchen sued Mr. Kimball and three of his closest associates. The suit accused them of conspiring to “literally and conceptually rip off” America’s Test Kitchen, the Boston-based television, radio and publishing empire that Mr. Kimball helped create, in order to start a competitor. Milk Streetwhich debuted its magazine in 2016, also produces cooking instruction, cookbooks and other media, including a radio show hosted by Mr. Kimball.

“Mr. Kimball will return his ATK shares to the company for an undisclosed price,” both sides said in a joint statement released Thursday. “In addition, the parties have agreed to business terms that will allow America’s Test Kitchen and Mr. Kimball’s company, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street, to coexist in the marketplace.”

The parties had been set to meet in Suffolk County Superior Court in Massachusetts in October.

“America’s Test Kitchen and Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street agree that an amicable separation is in the best interest of their respective companies,” the statement said.

Mr. Kimball hired Mr. Bishop in the 1980s as an editor for Cook’s Magazine. In the 1990s, it became Cook’s Illustrated, which ushered in a new model of cooking journalism that was rigorous and an early adapter of an ad-free subscription model. The two men worked together over decades to grow a media empire that would come to include the America’s Test Kitchen television franchise, which began in 2001.

Mr. Kimball called the lawsuit “absurd” when it was filed, and said that it defamed him and was intended to shore up the America’s Test Kitchen brand.

Milk Street was considered a gamble even by Mr. Kimball, who wanted to move home cooking past what he called its “Fannie Farmer era” — albeit one that he helped sustain with his New England sensibility and focus on oatmeal cookies, pot roast and other mainstream American foods — into a more global approach to cooking.

Milk Street now has about 45 employees and a popular cooking school at its Boston headquarters, and in October will publish “The New Rules,” its fifth cookbook.

In an interview Thursday, Mr. Kimball said it became clear that everyone involved wanted to avoid the expense and emotional toll of a trial.

“Both sides realize it’s probably just better to move on,” he said.



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