Well, that didn’t take long.

On Tuesday, Kim O’Donnel hosted her final What’s Cooking chat for washingtonpost.com, drawing a number of cries and exclamations from home cooks who had come to rely on her culinary expertise for the past ten years. Today, O’Donnel told Y&H that her chat will be renamed and relaunched next month: Table Talk will debut at 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 9, on Culinate.com.

Culinate is a privately owned site, based in Portland, Ore., with a wealth of food-related content, from basic recipes to interviews to buying guides and beyond. O’Donnel did a freelance piece for the site last summer and found herself attracted to its work. “I was just admiring from afar what they were doing,” O’Donnel says. “It’s kind of a perfect fit.”

Until the new chat starts, O’Donnel will continue her Tuesday conversations on her Facebook page.

Meanwhile, after getting bumped around among washingtonpost.com big wigs, I finally landed in the e-mail box of a spokesperson, who sent me this canned response to a number of questions:

We are constantly reviewing our online content based on audience data, and while the What’s Cooking chat was a lively freelance contribution, it didn’t show the traction that put it at the top of our shows. We are expanding other staff-generated food content online soon. We continue to evaluate all aspects of our Web site to ensure we are serving our readers well and making smart decisions for our business.

I e-mailed back to clarify weather this statement meant that What’s Cooking was killed because of budget cuts or because it was an under-performing player. The spokesperson called me and said she couldn’t comment any further.

You can’t confirm or deny that O’Donnel’s chat was a victim of budget cuts?

No, she said.

Y&H has to say this: After a decade of doing this chat for the Post, and helping to build its online presence, O’Donnel deserves a much warmer public send-off than this bloodless statement.

Photo courtesy of washingtonpost.com

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