Christopher Kimball, host of PBS's America's Test Kitchen and the founder of Cook's Illustrated Magazine, tends to be a polarizing figure in cooking.
He’s been accused of taking a "paint-by-numbers" approach to cooking and removing the fun from the kitchen with his magazine, TV show and books.
But Kimball, currently promoting his latest publication The Science of Good Cooking, says when it comes to cooking, science is more useful than creativity.
"If you go in the kitchen, everyone thinks I don’t have to follow a recipe – I can be creative," he said in an interview from Boston with CBC’s Q cultural affairs show.
"The fact is, sure there is creativity in the kitchen, but you have to have the chops to know what meat does at different temperatures and how baking works and what baking powder does – so there are rules. If you take the time to learn the rules, which takes some practice — but when you get to that point, then you can be creative."
Kimball says it's time to admit there is a lot of bad food out there. His goal is to use rigorous testing to eliminate the chances of a meal turning out poorly.
"Most recipes are badly constructed and they’re not tested properly, so if you get in the kitchen and you use a substitute or you have a different kind of stovetop or you’re using cheap cookware instead of better cookware, the recipe’s not going to turn out," he says.
Kimball says many amateur cooks have embraced his scientific philosophy in the last 10 years. They’re tired of being told what to do and want to know why they should do it, he says.
In his interview with Q, Kimball defends the scientific approach, discusses his own holy grail of cooking and explains why TV chefs should acknowledge the sheer drudgery involved in preparing food.