Looking to escape the constant talk of email servers? You won't find a respite in the American cooking world, now hit with its own high-profile scandal detailed in the New York Times. In a lawsuit filed Oct. 31, America's Test Kitchen—a media empire that includes the popular cooking show by the same name and Cook's Illustrated magazine—claims Christopher Kimball, who started and edited that magazine and co-founded and helmed the show, is guilty of "profoundly disloyal fiduciary" and that he and people close to him (including his wife, an executive producer for the show) colluded to "literally and conceptually rip off" ATK to benefit his new company, Milk Street. Among the accusations (most based on info from those email servers) against Kimball, who left ATK in 2015 : pilfered customer lists, using the ATK name to secure resources for his new venture, and poaching ATK employees.
"At least 15 former and current ATK employees and freelancers now work for Milk Street," the suit states. Jack Bishop, ATK's chief creative officer, doesn't seem thrilled at having to go after someone he's known and worked with for close to 30 years. "There is no joy in any of this," he tells the Times. "Other than my siblings and parents, it is one of the longer relationships I've had in my life." Kimball, who still retains a limited partnership in ATK, scoffs that his new brand did anything that wasn't on the up and up, calling the complaint "absurd" and saying ATK filed the suit just to drum up press for itself. "I want to respond carefully to everything factually," he says, noting his legal team is working on a rebuttal to the complaint. "If I start getting into the details, it's just going to be a pissing contest." (Read more top chefs stories.)