“Filmed in the Cook’s Country farmhouse, Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen features the best recipes, testings, and tastings from Cook’s Country magazine and is hosted by the cast from America’s Test Kitchen.”
America’s Test Kitchen is the most-watched food show on public television, currently in its twelfth season. In 1980 current host Christopher Kimball founded “Cook’s Country”, a magazine dedicated to cooking enthusiasts. However, it wasn’t until 2008 that the two media would meet with the debut of Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen. Featuring the staff of America’s Test Kitchen, the show is now in its sixth season and referred to simply as Cook’s Country.
Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen: Season Five brings together all thirteen episodes on two discs. Right off the bat, I have to say this set does something no other set I’ve ever encountered does. When you hit “Play All Episodes,” the discs automatically skip all the credits save for the first opening and the last ending. It saved me time and is something I would love to see adopted for all television sets.
The episodes play out in the same manner. An unknown (and unseen) narrator starts by giving us the lowdown on the episode. Host Christopher Kimball (America’s Test Kitchen) begins each segment with a short history of the recipe being recreated (mere seconds, maybe a minute at most). Then Christopher joins one of the chefs (Bridget Lancaster, Julia Collin Davison, or Erin McMurrer), who show him how they’re putting together the food. During the breaks in cooking, Christopher either goes to the tasting kitchen with Jack Bishop and the live audience or alternatively to the testing kitchen with Adam Ried, who shows the results of that week’s equipment test. Both segments end with a recommendation for those interested in making a purchase. There’s usually a question or two from viewers, which Kimball answers in his own segment. Then Christopher returns to the food, and we get to see the final product. Each episode features two recipes being prepared.
They are very quick episodes, lasting about 25 minutes each. It’s easy to get sucked in (and hungry). Kimball is very affable and has a genuine camaraderie with the rest of the cast. For those who enjoy cooking shows, this is jam-packed with information, providing not just great recipes, but ways to make your own kitchen more efficient. It’s easy to give this a recommendation.
It seems as though the video was originally shot in 1.33:1 and then blown up to fit the now-standard 1.78:1 anamorphic. The picture has that peculiar pixilation that occurs when the video isn’t kept in its original aspect ratio. That, and the rather washed-out palette, aren’t really problems, per se. At least as far as the palette goes, the food looked awesome as presented, so I can only imagine what an HD broadcast would do for it. There is almost no sound outside of the dialogue, theme song, and the music which intros and exits the segments, so the Dolby Digital 2.0 was more than the audio track needed.
The lone special feature is a PDF file of all the recipes — but that’s a pretty good special feature and one I may actually use.
Sure you can catch these episodes online or on TV, depending on what part of the country you live in, but if the show interests you at all, it’s worth the purchase. Being able to jump right to the recipe you want, see how it should look, and have the option of printing out the recipe is worth the dough (ha!) you have to spend. You can also become a member at the official site and gain access to all the recipes and videos in the archive.