When David Nussbaum was hired as chairman and CEO of America’s Test Kitchen in October 2015, he was charged with growing the Boston-based publisher and multimedia company best known for its eponymous public television show, its Cook’s Country TV show and magazine, and Cook’s Illustrated magazine.
Two years later Nussbaum’s plans for growth are starting to come to fruition. Last week ATK moved into a building in Boston’s Seaport District with a brand-new state-of the art 15,000 sq. ft. kitchen. But that test kitchen won’t be used just to test recipes 40, 50, or even 100 times for adult home cooks. As early as next month, ATK will begin testing children’s recipes in advance of the launch of America’s Test Kitchen Kids, a line of co-branded books to be produced in partnership with Sourcebooks.
The line, which will be published by Sourcebooks, will begin with three books in October 2018 and release between six to 10 titles in 2019. The books will range from board books with pictures of baby’s first food to STEM-based picture books to cookbooks. Although the inaugural list is still taking shape, Bishop said that it will likely include a middle grade cookbook for the emerging cook.
“We want to introduce positive relationships with food at every age using the ATK brand,” said Kelly Barrales-Saylor, editorial director for children’s nonfiction at Sourcebooks. Both she and Jack Bishop, chief creative officer at ATK, will lead the creative teams working on book development and new product generation.
“Look, we want to revolutionize the world of children and food,” Sourcebooks founder Dominique Raccah told PW. She pointed to Sourcebooks’ success in publishing aggressively into children’s nonfiction, up 132% so far this year, and noted that America’s Test Kitchen Kids has the same kind of potential. Quoting one of her customers, she said, “The cookbook publishers don’t know how to do children’s books, and the children’s book publishers don’t know how to do cookbooks. There’s been a hole in the market.”
Bishop at ATK considers the decision to move into the children’s arena as “a natural for us. We view ourselves first and foremost as educators.” And the company plans to vet its content with young readers in the same way that it vets its content with adults. Children will be an active part of the process, even adding their testimony about how the recipes work to the books in the brand.
ATK is planning about a half-dozen road test with children in Boston, and it is also forming an online panel of kids to review the recipes. “One of the things we struggle with is: how do you write a recipe for a kid? That’s something we hope to learn from kids,” Bishop said. Children will also be featured in the step-by-step photography of how a dish is cooked to make the books more kid-friendly.
Given ATK’s multimedia approach to adult cooking, it is planning to do the same with its children’s program. With the new test kitchen’s video capabilities, video will definitely be part of the new brand, which will have a YouTube channel, according to Bishop. “We think of this as a multi-pronged approach to teach the next generation of home cooks to be successful,” he said.