The iconic American foodie talks about why his new print magazine is the perfect place to engage his audience.
Did you know that 97% of all cookbooks purchased are printed on paper?
“You can cook off a screen or a Kindle or an iPad, or whatever you want, but most people don’t,” notes Christopher Kimball of Milk Street.
The founder of Cook’s Illustrated magazine in 1980, Kimball is no stranger to the world of food publishing. And he’s evolving both his own career and his industry niche, with a clear understanding of the role print plays in the kitchen.
Kimball, widely known as the former host of America’s Test Kitchen – and less widely known as a former chef for the Grateful Dead – is moving on after a contract dispute, and pouring his considerable talents into Milk Street Kitchen, a brick and mortar business in Boston that includes a new magazine, books, a public TV series and a cooking school.
Kimball is a firm believer in the power of print to build brand relationships, and is fearlessly forging ahead with his ideas about what he dubs “the new home cooking.”
“Today, he is reinventing the art of cooking with his Milk Street brand; from the print magazine to the cooking classes; from the road tours to the upcoming non-profit partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to teach kids how to cook; Chris is making sure that Milk Street is on every corner of America and not just in Boston,” writes Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni in his blog.
“It’s a unique concept on how we create those fabulous flavors and smells that permeate our kitchens and tantalize our taste buds every time we pull out a pan. And of course, Chris is no stranger to the kitchen or the world of magazines, having founded and launched Cook’s Illustrated magazine in 1980,” Husni notes.
The magazine will be ad free, a concept with which he’s quite familiar and comfortable, noting “if you got rid of the advertising, which was something I never liked, then you could design the publication entirely for the reader.
“I could get rid of the travel and the restaurants and all of the other things and just focus on cooking, which I felt would give it a better pricing structure and also a better renewal rate. And it would be designed entirely for the reader and that would support the kind of circulation numbers that I would need.”
Kimball has the personal following and the brand recognition to pull it off, and his understanding of how readers use the material is key.
“I don’t think the digital world is a particularly good place to develop a long-term relationship for obvious reasons. But if you pick up a magazine or a cookbook, and you look at the paper and you experience the feel of it and actually spend five minutes with it, I think that’s the best brand ambassador that you can create.”
(Want to get in on this? Sign up for a free copy of Milk Street Magazine’s charter issue, while supplies last.)