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America's Test Kitchen Shares Culinary Tips & Tricks During Live Show

Christopher Kimball, host of America's Test Kitchen, brought the PBS show to life on stage Thursday night during America's Test Kitchen Live. Fans of the cooking show, young and old, filled the seats of Jones Hall to listen to Kimball share secrets about the production of the show and explain how the recipes are tested.

Kimball is the exact same bubbly, energetic and goofy host in person as he is on camera. Since 1979, Kimball and his team of culinary experts have made it their goal to figure out the best method for cooking specific recipes, from soft-boiling eggs to grinding burger meat.

Sometimes these recipes result from science experiments, and sometimes they come about from hundreds of tests.

Thursday night included lots of laughs and jokes from Kimball, live taste-test demonstrations and a behind-the-scenes look into life on America's Test Kitchen. Here are five of the best bits of information learned:

5. Recipe Testing Takes Nearly Six Weeks The America's Test Kitchen staff takes recipe-testing seriously. When the kitchen worked on old-fashioned yellow cake, the testers baked it 130 times until they found the right recipe. Nearly 2,000 eggs were used in a soft-boil test, too.

4. No Rehearsals Every single episode is filmed once, and three are filmed each day. Despite what you may think, there are no rehearsals before the show is filmed, unlike other cooking shows found on other networks. The only "rehearsed" portion deals with the recipes, for obvious reasons.

Kimball led audience members through a chocolate taste-test on stage.
Kimball led audience members through a chocolate taste-test on stage.
Photo by Molly Dunn

3. You Choose What You Grew Up Eating During the chocolate taste-test, eight audience members were chosen to pick the best quality chocolate out of three samples. Four individuals chose Nestle (the Test Kitchen's losing product) and only two chose Ghirardelli (the true winner). Nestle's chocolate is the product most people grew up eating.

2. Americans Overuse Non-Stick Pans According to Kimball, Americans cook with non-stick pans approximately 70 percent of the time, but really, they should use those pans 20 percent of the time. A cast-iron skillet should be used more often than not, and it should be well-seasoned. Unless you're cooking something delicate, like fish, or sugary, like a stir-fry, a cast-iron skillet is the way to go.

1. No Nutritional Information Kimball wants to provide recipes that work, not recipes that are healthy. And if you're looking for the best flavor, you have to use the good stuff. So, for as long as Kimball is in charge, you won't be seeing any nutritional facts listed with recipes.

Oh, and if you ever wondered, Kimball's bow ties are not clip-ons. Those, like the ingredients used in the Test Kitchen's recipes, are the real deal.

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Jones Hall For the Performing Arts

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