Depressing Things About Christopher Kimball

For more than two decades, Christopher Kimball has served the greater community of foodies, home chefs, and food TV fans with a variety of educational and entertaining media. Introducing science, precision, and unfailing consistency to the generally more emotional-driven realms of food publications and television shows, Kimball's magazine, Cook's Illustrated, and his public television instructional series "Cook's Country" and "America's Test Kitchen," have taught countless individuals how to cook. From what ingredients to use and what gadgets to buy to how to enjoy food as a creator as well as a consumer, Kimball has offered advice.

As a longtime contributor and editor at Cook's Illustrated and a memorable bow tie-wearing cohost of two TV series — his snappiness, bone-dry wit, and no-nonsense attitude made him a rarity among his more boisterous food television contemporaries — Kimball earned his position as a tastemaker in entertainment and the ongoing cultural conversation about food. He's also suffered a lot for his art and his livelihood, as numerous personal tragedies and legal battles have infiltrated his work life, and vice versa. Here's a look into the seriously dark, off-screen life of Christopher Kimball.

He's gone through a couple of divorces

Christopher Kimball has been married a total of three times. Details regarding his first marriage, including the identity of his spouse and the length of the coupling, remain privately held information, except for the fact that it ended with a divorce. In 1987, Kimball married Adrienne Kimball, with whom he fathered two children. The Kimballs were together until they formally separated in 2010, with a divorce finalized in 2012.

Less than a year after his divorce from Adrienne was settled, Kimball got married again, this time to Melissa Lee Baldino. Twenty-five years Kimball's junior, Baldino worked as an executive producer on his "America's Test Kitchen" TV and radio series after previously serving as his personal assistant. When Kimball abruptly left "America's Test Kitchen" and started "Christopher Kimball's Milk Street," Baldino joined her husband at the new venture, where she is currently listed as a co-founder and media director.

His ex-wife sued him

A divorce is an emotionally and legally difficult process for everyone involved. Christopher Kimball's split from his former wife, Adrienne, was rendered all the more complex when she sued the TV host for violating the terms of their divorce agreement. The couple's split was made official in 2012, with Kimball agreeing to share future earnings with his former wife — she was bequeathed an 8% ownership share of the America's Test Kitchen company and legally entitled to 35% of his income in the coming years. In January 2017, Adrienne Kimball filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts' Suffolk Probate and Family Court, alleging that her ex-spouse reneged on the agreement they had both signed and that she was owed more than $112,000 across all income streams. 

Adrienne also noted that Christopher's earnings, and thus her counted-on cut, were significantly reduced upon his exit from America's Test Kitchen in 2015. Beyond the business-oriented monies owed, he also reportedly declined to pay out a required 50% of the couple's children's medical bills and school tuition fees, an amount totaling nearly $15,000.

He was forced out at America's Test Kitchen

Christopher Kimball helped create America's Test Kitchen, the concern that oversees production of Cook's Illustrated magazine and the TV series "America's Test Kitchen" and "Cook's Country." As the face and major creative voice in the operation, Kimball was ousted by parent company Boston Common Press in November 2015. According to an email sent to employees (via the Boston Globe), Kimball would retain his minority ownership in America's Test Kitchen but would lose his role as an active participant in its numerous multimedia projects.

Internal turmoil began to develop at Boston Common Press in September 2015, according to the Los Angeles Times, after David Nussbaum ascended to the company's CEO position over Kimball. In the end, a disagreement over money led the two sides to part ways. "We made every effort to offer Chris a reasonable contract that reflected his significant contributions to the company and are disappointed that we could not reach an agreement," Nussbaum said in a statement on behalf of Boston Common Press (via The New York Times).

His follow-up project got him sued

Six months after his sudden departure from America's Test Kitchen and its various print, TV, and online incarnations, Kimball had a new potential food media empire up and running. In May 2016, he opened Milk Street Kitchen in Boston, the headquarters for a new magazine and a public TV show. That promised series, "Christopher Kimball's Milk Street," was up and running on PBS affiliates around the U.S. by 2017, along with a radio program, a system of cooking instructional classes, and a line of cookbooks.

However, the new leaders of America's Test Kitchen filed suit against Milk Street in October 2016, alleging that Kimball and his new media group "literally and conceptually ripped off" Kimball's former company, according to The New York Times. Not only did Kimball allegedly make his new TV, radio, and magazine resemble America's Test Kitchen's versions in look and voice, but he also may have swiped proprietary company information, according to the suit. Following three years of legal maneuvering, America's Test Kitchen and Milk Street put the suit to rest in 2019, with Kimball forced to sell his remaining shares in America's Test Kitchen.

Meanwhile, Kimball won a different Milk Street lawsuit the company was facing. In 2017, a judge ruled that Kimball's business didn't infringe on the rights of a Boston restaurant called the Milk Street Cafe, on account of how the two operate in totally different realms.