Meet the Cast

Adam Ried Has Been Reviewing Kitchen Equipment on America's Test Kitchen Since Day One

And it all started with a serendipitous testing of roasting racks.

Published Dec. 20, 2016.

The 2017 season of America’s Test Kitchen has arrived! To help you share in the excitement, we’ll be giving you a peek behind the television curtain with interviews with our hosts and on-screen test cooks—familiar faces and newcomers alike.

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Today we catch up with a familiar face—longtime America's Test Kitchen cast member (he's been on the show since day one!), Cook's Illustrated contributor, and equipment reviewer extraordinaire Adam Ried. I talk to him about his first, accidental foray into equipment testing (with a saucepan that didn't stand a chance), the beauty of a well-designed paper towel holder, and how much he loves being a part of America's Test Kitchen. 

What got you interested in the food world? 

What got me interested in the food world? Have you seen my pot belly? I love to eat! I’ve gravitated toward cooking magazines and cookbooks for as long as I can remember.

What I don’t remember is what I cooked first. I do recall being really young, probably 5 or 6, and deciding to make chocolate-mint sauce by melting peppermint hard candies and chocolate kisses together. I used a good Le Creuset saucepannot that I knew it was a good pan at the time, it was just the one I grabbed—which I can still picture in my mind: yellow enamel with a wooden handle. I piled all the candy into the pan, turned the burner on to high, and then went outside to play. Suffice it to say that that pan was never the same again.

How did you get your start in testing equipment? 

My start in equipment testing was more by circumstance than design. Not long after I started at Cook’s Illustrated, a freelancer who was supposed to test roasting racks bowed out in the eleventh hour. I said I’d like to give it a shot, and the editors were desperate enough to allow it. Apparently it went well, because from that point forward I kept on testing. 

Like America's Test Kitchen host Bridget Lancaster (left), Ried has been on the show since the beginning.

You've been on the show since day one, so you've got plenty of time logged in front of the camera. Still, do you ever get nervous during filming? 

Someday I’ll wise up and request a teleprompter. But I haven’t done that yet, which leaves me to memorize all the testing info for a full season’s worth of my segments, which are usually shot over the course of a day or two. Lots of the info is familiar from conducting tests of course, but still, between product names, prices, measurements, technical info, and the blocking, there’s a fair amount to pack into my brain. This is all to say, I do get nervous about the memorization. But not really about the cameras. Essentially I just ignore them and talk to the host.

What segment were you most excited about filming for the 2017 season? 

[Laughing] The last one. Okay, seriously, I like doing segments that are unexpected, like paper towel holders. Paper towel holders? Who’s ever given those a second thought? But there are real design differences. Some work well while others are ridiculous.

Ried and America's Test Kitchen host Julia Collin Davison share a laugh while filming a review of citrus juicers.

Were there any good bloopers from filming the 2017 season? 

The Gods were smiling and my segments went smoothly for the most part. Though we did have some tumbling towers of waffles in a Belgian waffle iron segment. The greatest injustice, though, was that I didn’t get to eat any paella as part of the paella pan testing segment.

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About those paper towel holders...
Being on TV is the last thing I ever would have imagined for myself, yet somehow it happened and now I get recognized all over the country. I know we’re in the video age and there are more people on screens than ever before, but still, to be part of a solid-citizen TV show like ATK is an unusual—and exceptional—experience.

What's a fun fact about filming that most fans of the show wouldn't know?

How insanely grateful I am to the rock 'n roll testing team who organize all the equipment for me. In the old days I did it all myself—ordered it, tracked it, unpacked it, cleaned and/or polished it, transported it onto and off of the set, arrayed it for the segments—all in addition to writing, memorizing, and presenting the segments. Now, the team takes care of all the logistics, which affords me the luxury of running off for a few minutes between segments to review for the next one. The team’s help makes my role 1000% easier than it used to be.

What's your favorite part about being on the show?

You know, it’s just how big a kick it is to be on TV at all. "Me? Seriously?" It’s the last thing I ever would have imagined for myself, yet somehow it happened and now I get recognized all over the country. Hell—even outside of the country. I’ve had people stop me in the streets of Prague, Paris, and Dublin! (Other tourists, admittedly.)

I know we’re in the video age and there are more people on screens than ever before, but still, to be part of a solid-citizen TV show like America's Test Kitchen is an unusual—and exceptional—experience. I feel incredibly lucky that it came my way. 

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