An Interview with America’s Test Kitchen test cook and senior editor Bryan Roof


Many of you are probably familiar with America’s Test Kitchen, either from one of their magazines (Cook’s Illustrated or Cook’s Country), books (too many to mention), or TV or radio shows. You may not know that ATK is locally based, and that one of their test cooks and the executive food editor for Cook’s Country lives right here in Arlington! Bryan Roof agreed to answer a few questions for us on this blog.

What individual cookbooks, cookbooks series, or particular authors/chefs would you recommend for beginning/intermediate home cooks, and why?

Anything by Jean Georges Vongerichten. He’s got a solid approach to simple cooking with a modern twist. And Jacques Pepin’s books are a great intro to proper cooking techniques and sensible shortcuts.

How are ATK cookbooks different from other cookbooks?

We get to the heart of why most recipes fail and what we do to ensure that ours work.

What do you look for in a recipe when deciding to try it?

I look for appealing flavor combinations and/or techniques. I rarely cook from recipes outside of work. At home, I consider them “suggestions.”

CookingAtHomeWhat is your all-time favorite cookbook? (If you could only bring one with you to a desert island, assuming that desert island was equipped with a kitchen…)

Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef by Jean Georges Vongerichten. I return to it over and over again. I’ve be rereading it for over 15 years.

What are your 3 most important pieces of advice for home cooks?

1. Don’t be afraid to add salt. Then, when you think you’ve added enough, add a little more. 2. Invest in a few pieces of quality kitchen equipment, like a good skillet, knife, and cutting board. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, and you’ll enjoy the process of cooking much more. 3. Simple is best, and less is more (except when it comes to salt, right?).

Is there anything about cookbooks, cooking, food, or the ATK library you’d like to add?  

If you’re cooking from a recipe, read it all the way through before you begin cooking. Your chances of success will improve greatly…even if it’s a bad recipe.

Thank you, Bryan!

Readers, we have a large selection of cookbooks on the third floor of the library (look for the 641.5 area), including a few by Bryan’s favorite chef-authors, Jean Georges Vongerichten and Jacques Pepin – and plenty of ATK books as well, of course! Personally, I couldn’t get by without Baking Illustrated and The New Best Recipe. What are your favorite cookbooks or cooking tips? Please share in the comments below.

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