There’s no better way to prepare for a year of cooking in a Collegetown apartment than watching videos of chefs, professional and amateur, and getting the confidence to cook dishes more complicated than mac and cheese. Luckily, YouTube offers thousands of cooking videos from which to choose. Here are four channels, each engaging in their own right, on which to focus your viewing.
Fuck. That’s the word! Named after Gordon Ramsay’s favorite expletive, “The F Word” is one of many shows in which amateur cooks willingly shed their pride to be yelled at in a Gordon Ramsay kitchen for a few hours. The associated YouTube channel offers clips of this show as well as clips of Ramsay’s off-the-beaten-path food adventures. It also offers fast paced cooking demos performed by the vulgarity king himself.
His demos combine fast-cut camera work and closeups of sizzling pots and pans to present the kitchen as an exciting, action-packed environment. Ramsay’s knife skills, preparation skills and general understanding of ingredient and flavor combinations are on full display. He bedazzles as he runs through the steps of making meals faster than Usain Bolt can say hello. And as he works, he inspires his audience (or at least me) to try cooking. Yet, one thing remains clear: neither you nor I will ever produce a result even close to Ramsay’s perfection.
A professional chef who has cooked in one of Ramsay’s restaurants, Talbott describes his channel as where “the professional kitchen meets the home cook.” The cinematography is simple, with few cuts and few exaggerated angles. Talbott narrates his videos with instructions for his dishes, and although his videos include the natural sounds of cooking, he does not add any live commentary like Ramsay does. Moreover, to match his bland camera work and narration, Talbott sticks strictly to the cooking process, without any showmanship or flair.
By letting the cooking do the talking, Talbott’s channel shows his viewers a straightforward path toward tastier, healthier meals. His homemade pasta is transformed from an esoteric kitchen practice into something even a home cook can do. With each dish, he adds a professional chef’s understanding of the kitchen, albeit with a simplicity that makes viewers confident in their own abilities. So go on, try to make his steak and potatoes; I think you can do it!
Andrew Rea, the man whose torso can be seen making all the food featured on this channel (his face never makes it into the shot), replicates dishes from movies and television shows with a creativity and humor that makes you think, “Why can’t I be that creative and humorous?”
Well sometimes, you just can’t. But that’s why we have people like Rea as the brains behind YouTube channels. His smooth, deep voice — much like Talbott’s — narrates his videos, although Rea’s still have the natural cooking sounds. Yet, unlike Talbott, Rea includes clever jabs at the television show characters and complaints about having to wake up early to be able to cook the entire dish in one day. Moreover, he includes the intermittent comment about humanity’s reliance on the two drugs most often found in our systems: alcohol and caffeine.
When the internet went into a frenzy about McDonald’s Szechuan sauce, who came to the rescue and made the fragrant, deep red sauce from scratch? When Bob’s Burgers characters made delicious burgers, who had the guts to fry pickles in real life and stick them onto a patty? After Scarlett Johansson made those sexy eyes at Jon Favreau in Chef, who took on the garlicky, oily, tangy, savory pasta dish that made her fall madly in love? Mr. Andrew Rea.
The food is vegan. The ingredients are listed in Japanese (and English!). There is no music. This channel offers what no other channel on YouTube can: a space for decompression and deep relaxation.
Ryoya Takashima, who created and runs this channel, skillfully slices vegetables, kneads dairy-less doughs and builds dishes whose delicious appearances defy the stigma of vegan cuisine. But the channel’s major attracting point is Takashima himself. He is deliberate and meticulous; each cut is purposeful, each kneading motion careful. In doing all this without narration or music, Takashima ensures his channel remains dedicated purely to the food and its integrity. Also, it puts you right to sleep.