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Hey...I Know a Tester!
Thursday, February 28, 2008 | posted by Mike

Been busy busy busy around here on account of the day job. That included an extremely early morning for me today (don't ask...just go ahead and feel bad for me). And, what greeted me when I switched on the TV while getting ready this morning? It was America's Test Kitchen, with Chris Kimball approvingly looking on while they made reduced-fat chicken parm. (It got a thumbs up, in case you're wondering.)

From some of the discussion around here, you may think that I would not be a fan of the show's "no nonsense" approach to food, but I enjoy the geeky fun of it and, frankly, they come up with VERY sound recipes that get rid of the personal touch some chefs like to (needlessly, often) put on a dish. These are tried and true recipes that just work.

And how do they get to this point? Well, they always say that this innovation or that technique worked well for "our testers." As appealing as the image of a hanger-sized room filled with lab-coated food scientists is, it turns out that that the whole testing process is a bit more realistic than that. Those testers are regular people just like you and me.

Or, more to the point, just like my friend from work, who was recently enrolled as one of the ATK testers!

She's a big foodie and we chat quite a bit, so I'm getting a bit of a close-up look at their process. And I can say that there really is a lot of "testing" going on, with the army of testers being given recipes and instructions to provide feedback. She's having a blast trying out the new dishes.

I've also been able to see that they take quite a "scientific" approach to this. When a recipe they sent out to the testers apparently came back with bad early reviews, they let those who hadn't made the dish yet know to skip it and try out a substitute. Who knows...maybe we'll get to see this described in a future episode of the show.

Me? I'm just hoping they put out a call to "sign up a friend" soon.



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