So, dear readers, last week I was sick with an upper respiratory infection and did absolutely nothing but lay down for about five days. During this time, the amount of media that I usually consume went way up, from movies, TV and so many YouTube videos. I was kind of lonely and miserable because I was sick, but I found the perfect thing to make me feel better: Bon Appetit videos on YouTube. I don’t think I am overstating by saying that I think I watched every single video on the whole channel.
Bon Appetit is a food and restaurant magazine originally, being one of the publications under the Conde Nast company. It put its first issue out in 1956 and still continues to put out a print publication every month (which I am a current subscriber too!). However, the focus of this article is the magazine’s rapidly growing YouTube channel, which currently has 5.33 million subscribers.
The BA Youtube channel launched in 2012, mostly making videos that followed the general format of Buzzfeed’s “Tasty” channel, called “hands and pans,” which involve no personality behind the camera talking but only an overview of what the steps of a recipe entails with captions. Then, in 2016, they began releasing more traditional food show style content, with a host behind the camera talking the view through the recipe. This is when the YouTube page really took off and it has been growing a huge following ever since.
For me, the best thing about the channel is the wide range of content and personalities that they offer. The range of staff is one of the most enjoyable things, because even though they are all different, they are all enjoyable in their own way! There are probably about ten chefs who regularly appear in the videos, whether as the star of the show or to offer support and advice to the people working on the video. From Chris Morocco with his dry wit and sage advice, to Gaby Melian and her endless smiles and happiness, with Andy Baraghani, who has a clear brand of food full of spices and herbs but no sense of superiority over the viewer, it is the people who make the channel as amazing as it is. The test kitchen, where all of the videos are filmed, has the atmosphere of one of the healthiest work environments I have ever seen, full of genuine support and caring between all the people that work there.
There are about six regular shows, besides the normal recipe videos, that the channel puts on most weeks. The most popular of these shows is “Gourmet Makes,” which stars pastry chef Claire Saffitz, as she attempts to make the gourmet version of popular snack foods like Snickers, Ruffles potato chips, Jelly Bellies and Skittles. The joy of this show isn’t in trying to learn a recipe for an at-home version of these snacks, but watching Claire try to figure it out and sometimes fail. She lets the viewer see that you don’t have to make things perfect every time and that it’s ok to ask other people for help when you don’t have all the answers. She shows that cooking isn’t about perfection, but making mistakes and learning along the way. People seem to agree with me, because her most recent episode from one week ago already has 2.6 million views.
Asking what my favorite BA show is, is like asking me who my favorite child is; I am reluctant to admit it, but I have one that I love the most. That show is “It’s Alive! with Brad Leone.” The premise is that Brad makes a different recipe that involves fermentation, which Brad calls “controlled rot” (which is you know, a fun way of saying things). Do I have any interest in fermenting things for eating purposes? Not in the slightest. Have I seen every episode of the show? Yes! Something about this chaotic, loveable man with his terrible pronunciation and childlike enthusiasm brings me so much joy. He spends the whole time talking to the camera and making sure the viewer knows that they are going to learn together. If you ever need to feel better about humanity, look no further than Brad Leone and his (at least to me) perfect show.
Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel has brought a lot of people so much fun and joy. There is not a single video that doesn’t have comments from viewers that say, “This made my day,” or “This made me less anxious today.” There is the Instagram account, “meme_appetit” with 261,000 followers, that is just full of pure jokes and pictures from the test kitchen. Bon Appetit is no passing fad, and I for one couldn’t be happier about it. Give it a try and find out everything that is good about humans again, all on a YouTube page.