Today, we’re highlighting one of our new cast members, Tim Chin. When Tim isn’t cooking alongside Bridget and Julia on the television show, he’s hustling in the test kitchen developing recipes and writing stories for Cook’s Science. I caught up with Tim to talk about the first meal that inspired his love for cooking, staging in Switzerland, and the best advice he ever received.
What’s the first thing you learned to cook?
The first thing I learned to cook was Chinese poached chicken. It’s actually one of the most boring dishes you could think of—it’s just chicken in a pot with water—but I grew up eating it and it was delicious. It’s perfectly cooked—you put a whole chicken in simmering water, take it off the heat and let it cook by itself for an hour and it comes out perfect. Then you put all sorts of spices on it—five-spice, pepper, lots of salt—and then rub it in a cool marinade with ginger. It’s delicious, it’s so good. To me that’s like comfort food. My dad would make it, my mom would make it, eventually we all learned how to make it. It’s really representative of my childhood.
What’s your background in the food world? What did you do before joining America’s Test Kitchen?
After college I moved from Atlanta to New York to get a Master’s in biochemistry. I’d been cooking part-time in Atlanta a bit, and doing some personal cheffing during the summers, but I never fully committed to it. I’ve been cooking my whole life though. I had a babysitter who was a caterer in Indonesia so she taught me how to cook—instead of babysitting me, she just left me in the kitchen while she cooked. When I was about five, she gave me a little paring knife and put me to work. So I moved to New York, and I enrolled in pastry school. I went to the French Culinary Institute. [Ed's Note: The French Culinary Institute is now known as the International Culinary Center]. I was going to classes [for my Master’s] during the day, then night school for pastry, and then eventually I picked up a stage. [Ed's Note: A stage, or staging, is an unpaid internship during which a cook works in another chef’s kitchen to learn about different techniques and cuisines.] When I graduated pastry school I had to decide what I wanted to do because it had to be one or the other. So I chose cooking.