America’s Test Kitchen & a Preview of the FOOD exhibit at the Museum of American History

The bespectacled and beloved Chris Kimball of America’s Test Kitchen, along with the show’s science editor, Guy Crosby, gave a little chat last week in conjunction with the Smithsonian’s preview of an upcoming exhibit, “FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000.”

Among the highlights, Kimball explained that unlike other cooking shows, he embraces showing failure on America’s Test Kitchen in order to remove any fears about cooking. “You never see food shows go, ‘This sucks!'” he said. The mission is often to find out why bad things happen to good recipes, he added. Throughout the presentation, Kimball made the case for why recipes should be tested scientifically and why he chooses to use his head rather than his heart when cooking. Additionally, the duo answered the audience’s cooking questions and dispelled various cooking myths such as searing the meat locks in juices and marinating meat makes it more tender.

After the presentation, we caught a sneak preview of the FOOD exhibit (see a few photos after the jump) that is currently being installed at the National Museum of American History and set to open to the public on November 20th. The 3,800-square-foot exhibit will examine major changes in food production, distribution, preparation and consumption in America from 1950 to 2000.

Four of the main sections of the exhibit will be “FOOD, ‘New and Improved!,'” “Resetting the Table,” the “Open Table,” and “Wine for the Table.”

“FOOD, ‘New and Improved!'” will explore the manufacturing of “convenient” foods has grown and changed, how supermarkets have expanded and utilized global distribution systems, the rise of fast foods and innovations in food preparation such as the invention of the microwave.

“Resetting the Table” will look at how changing gender roles and work schedules have changed the American table. If you’ve ever wanted to know how men manning the grills became popular in America, “Resetting the Table” should give you some insight. And you’ll also be able to learn about the “good food” movement in America and the rise of popularity in artisanal and local foods.

The “Open Table” portion of the exhibit will feature a large communal table where visitors can talk about a range of food-related issues. The table will open with a look at food pyramids in the U.S. and will change featured topics throughout the life of the exhibit. Lastly, Virginia vineyards get some attention in the “Wine for the Table” portion, along with California wine production and advancements in technology for fermentation and wine storage.

Making a full comeback in the FOOD Exhibit is Julia Child’s kitchen which has been on limited viewing in the museum. You’ll be able to peer into her full kitchen and learn more about the evolution of food television.

The FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000 is free and will open to the public starting November 20th, just in time for the food-centric American holiday, Thanksgiving.

Marissa was born and bred in New Jersey, but moved to DC for undergrad at GWU (Go Colonials, go!), fell in love with the District and learned that there was life and civilization beyond New York City. She loves eating at white-tablecloth-three-forks-at-your-place-setting restaurants, but she’ll also be the first to suggest we scarf down some chili dogs at 2 am. Simply put, she loves all things food. You can also read about why she loves DC. Follow her on Twitter and email her at mbialecki (at)

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