Culture

End This Hellfire Year By Watching These Delightfully Wholesome Cooking Videos

**Wholesome content alert!**

2018. Globally, it was a year of high highs and “get fucked” lows. Personally? Same. That’s why we needed wholesome cooking videos this year.

This year far too much of my time was spent in a dual state of both pure exhaustion and hot anxiety. Often I’d come home from a particularly gruelling day of 2018™ and flop onto bed, my brain too amped to sleep but too drained to engage with the Golden Age of Television people keep trying to tell me we’re in.

That’s where online cooking videos comes in.

You see, not even the trashiest TV hits the spot when it comes to non-content my brain can hypnotically bliss out to, because trash TV invariably connects itself to my life’s basic stresses by involving home renovation (‘I’ll never own a home’), human emotions (‘Remember those?’) or teens solving/committing murders (‘God… I used to be a teen. Time has ravaged me’).

No, only someone methodically and diligently preparing food — with no stakes, minimal backstory and nice lighting — gets my brain to shut the fuck up.

For this reason, I consider myself a connoisseur of the genre, so allow me to walk you through my Top 10 Online Cooking Videos of 2018.


10. Troye Sivan Tries to Keep Up with a Professional Chef | Back-to-Back Chef | Bon Appétit

This list could easily be ten different clips from the Bon Appetit Youtube page.

To my knowledge there is not a single other producer of online cooking vids who nail the intersection of tasty recipes, nice cinematography and amicable hosts quite like BA — and they’re putting out a video every! other! day!

This clip features BA Food Director Carli Lalli Music gently coaxing Troye Sivan through making ‘chicken under a brick’. It’s just one in a series of entertaining Back-to-Back vids (others include Natalie Portman! Ellie Kemper! Drag Race alum Miz Cracker!).

However, I consider this an exemplary highlight: if only for the fact that Troye Sivan repeatedly runs his hands through his hair after handling raw chicken. You thought that hair was a bleach job? No honey — he gets that effect by smothering E. coli directly onto each follicle and letting it eat away at the melanin.


9. I Made The Impossible Cotton Candy From Ancient China | BuzzFeedVideo

It’s rare that a cooking tutorial takes you on a hero’s journey, but Buzzfeed’s Inga Tin-Yi brought us drama, tension, dare I say… three act structure!

Inga endears herself to the audience with her Burn Relief gel and impatience for the sugar mixture to boil, so we are already rooting for her during her first attempt. The ‘impossible cotton candy’ involves a technique of stretching and looping a ring of melted sugar until you end up with 16,000 strands — but Inga’s first go at it fails after two loops.

But with vigilance, dedication and and a slightly lower cooking temperature, she succeeds in creating the pliability she needs. I’m no big math fan, but there’s something so satisfying seeing 2 strands become 4, then 8, 16, 32, 64…


8. [No music] How to make Homemade Nut Butter | Peaceful Cuisine

Peaceful Cuisine is just that — peaceful!

Run by Japanese vlogger Ryoya Takashima, Peaceful Cuisine provides low tempo, non-narrated tutorials that are filmed impeccably and, more importantly, recorded with crystal clear sound.

You can pour a glass of wine, light a candle and get that ASMR tingle with any of Peaceful Cuisine’s clips — but Homemade Nut Butter is my fav from this year, if only to hear the gentle clatter of various nuts being poured out of bags.

Note: Ryoya often uploads a version of each tutorial, one with music and one with ‘no music’. I implore you to sit with the silent, empty peace of ‘no music’.


7. How To Make Nigella Lawson’s Easy One-Pan Chicken And Peas | TODAY

I am unapologetically a Nigella stan. The single best birthday gift I have ever received was from a friend who gave me a framed photo of Nigella, signature forged by him as Nigella, with a note to ‘keep on cooking’. I’m obsessed.

However, this year provided relatively slim picking in terms of Nigella content, with the main options being clips from various press tour obligations off the back of her 2017 book At My Table — including this example on Today.

I don’t get the sense that Nigella is particularly thrilled to be on American morning telly, but the joy of Nigella is her ability to find fun for herself within just about anything. At 3:13 the show’s host, getting an earpiece order to speed things along, tells Nigella ‘we gotta hurry’. Nigella springs to near slapstick levels of efficiency, calling out ‘I go like this’, ‘I go like this’ as she rushes through steps.

It’s a moment of pure charm (and, arguably, shade).

Also this recipe is a banger.


6. Rachel Khoo’s Cloudberry Jam & Chocolate Hazelnut Spelt Buns | Rachel Khoo

Rachel Khoo is another favourite of mine, in many ways providing the same joy for me that Nigella does, and in a slightly less posh way at that!

In this clip for mouth-watering cloudberry jam buns, she exudes her youthful, down-to-earth charm by using a right-angle ruler to help prise up some sticky dough. ‘I never liked maths at school’, she jokes, ‘but now it’s coming in handy’.


5. Pouring Cheese on Delicious Food | Super Deluxe

Like any form, online cooking videos have their tropes — ripe for parody, in the right hands.

While I actively seek out as many of these vids as I can, you have undoubtedly fallen passive victim to an autoplay video on your Facebook feed, featuring someone pouring molten, unnecessary cheese onto an entire burger.

The online media weirdos at the now-dead Super Deluxe caught this trend in their crosshairs, continually one-upping the absurdity of what they pour this cheese onto. It’s gross and it’s wasteful, but it’s strangely hypnotic.

RIP Super Deluxe.


4. How-To Make Tonkatsu | Munchies

The joy in this clip is its simplicity (a simple recipe, simply shot and simply edited), along with how endearing chef Elena Yamamoto is.

At the beginning of the clip, Elena talks us through a tradition of eating tonkatsu to help you pass a test or win a sporting event. ‘I usually eat it on my birthday’, she smiles.

And what’s better than watching a chef cook a meal that’s close to her heart? Watching that chef call her brother to come help her eat it because it’s close to his heart to! This vid has a lot of heart, people!


3. Can This Chef Make A 3-Course Meal In A Coffee Maker? | Tasty

Tasty is a market-leader in online cooking videos, and I would be remiss to not include them on this list.

However, while it’s usually their birds-eye-view, non-narrated recipes that go viral, I’m drawn to some of their more offbeat content.

In this video, Alexis tries to MacGuyver a coffee maker into a boiling pot, a griddle and a steamer. Her ingenuity in pulling it all off makes this wonderful content, and has even made me start seeing my kitchen appliances with different eyes.


2. Pretend Cooking Show (Thanksgiving Special) | Jennifer Garner’s IGTV

Where to begin with Jennifer Garner’s DIY IGTV cooking show?

Her use of Cookie Monster voice while saying “here you go in the pot”? Her repeated glances up into heaven to check she’s doing right by her dead grandmother? Her feeding her hens – one of whom is named Hennifer?

If you have ever needed proof that celebrities have far too much free time and no tether to reality, this show is it. Mandatory viewing.


1. Pastry Chef Attempts to Make Gourmet Instant Ramen | Gourmet Makes | Bon Appétit

The only problem that can be said of online cooking videos is that each typically lasts but a few minutes, meaning that unless you have faith in YouTube’s autoplay function (let it be noted that I do not) you do have to semi-regularly emerge from complete relaxation to find and load the next video.

Not so for the masterful work of Claire Saffitz at Bon Appetit, whose Gourmet Makes series includes episodes ranging anywhere from 10 minutes to this clip’s glorious 25 minute runtime – making it my top pick for 2018.

The basic premise is that Claire attempts to create gourmet, homemade versions of industrially made foods – trying her best to both improve upon, yet honour, the original. Without access to conveyor belts or dysodium guanylate, her attempts involve a lot of DIY ingenuity and a lot of trial-and-error, blowing out the runtime into its glorious length.

Claire herself approaches every hurdle, even when it pushes her down, with absolute curiosity — and that’s what is so joyous about the Gourmet Makes series. Her inventiveness is truly inspiring. Hell, it’s nearly enough to get me off the couch and into the kitchen.

Nearly.

Alistair Baldwin is a writer and comedian based in Naarm/Melbourne. He has written for The Weekly and the upcoming season of Get Krack!n. His work has been published by SBS, ACMI Ideas, un. Magazine, Archer and more.