One of my favorite things to watch on the internet is the growth of an online presence, like when a YouTuber who started with 50K subscribers gets interviewed by Jimmy Fallon. The sense of pride I feel for that YouTuber is genuinely exciting.
I’ve had the pleasure of watching the “Bon Appetit” channel — the YouTube wing of the culinary media giant “Bon Appetit” magazine — grow. Since 2018, I’ve watched their videos move from slightly boring cooking instructions to an array of video series, each one starring a “Bon Appetit” test kitchen chef.
It all started with Brad Leone and his show “It’s Alive with Brad Leone,” where Leone explored the wonderful world of fermentation accompanied by clever edits and running gags. Leone has what’s been aptly described as a “golden retriever personality” — while one could learn how to make kombucha from his videos, it’s much more fun to watch him hilariously wreak havoc in the test kitchen.
The show became a hit, with a horde of followers coming back to each video to see more of Leone’s antics while also enjoying the cooking aspect. Since that first show, “Bon Appetit” has become proficient at showing off its cast of chefs, each with their own unique food series.
Chef Claire Saffitz has garnered a huge following with her show “Gourmet Makes” where she attempts — and often entertainingly fails — at creating gourmet versions of junk food. Watching her struggle through attempt after attempt at making her own Starbursts or Twinkies is addictive, not only because it’s amusing when she fails, but also because she never gives up on a project and always ends up succeeding. Saffitz uses her culinary knowledge to the max in this series, and it’s fascinating to watch.
Leone and Saffitz’s shows are the most well-known — both of them have made appearances with Fallon — but other chefs have also become successful on the channel. Alex Delaney has a show where he eats every item on the menu at iconic NYC restaurants, called “One of Everything,” often accompanied by another one of the test kitchen chefs.
Chef Molly Baz has a series where she goes on a food adventure hunt where she learns how to cook some extreme delicacies called “Molly Tries,” the most recent one being ostrich eggs. All in all, there are about 13 chef personalities on this channel, each one offering their own unique take on cooking.
While each chef is fantastic individually, there is something else underneath all these shows that I think makes “Bon Appetit” such a success. In each video, there is ample interaction between the chefs. Random Bon Appetit employees will pop into Saffitz’s “Gourmet Makes” to help her pull taffy for her Starbursts or to coax her through a failure. At the end of many “It’s Alive” episodes, he makes a dish that he shares with other chefs in the kitchen, and we get to hear their comments on his work. The test kitchen is full of these positive and often delightful workplace relationships, and I think those relationships are the true draw to the channel.
There’s a whole series on the channel called “Making Perfect,” where all the chefs come together to create a “perfect” dish or meal. The latest one was making the perfect Thanksgiving meal, with the chefs pairing off to each master an aspect of the meal. After the six episodes, they all came together to create (and devour) the meal. The camaraderie, and mutual respect really showcased how fun it must be to be in such a positive work environment.
As a second semester senior, I’ve become familiar with the slight panic of job hunting. It can be stressful to try to find post-graduation plans, especially when most students my age don’t have the firmest grasp of what to look for in a work environment.
I think that’s why the endearing YouTube antics of the chefs in the test kitchen have really popped off amongst college kids. Watching the channel is some kind of career wish fulfillment. Here is a group of people who are obviously passionate about their jobs, surrounded by supportive and smart peers who only improve their work experience. And they’re doing all of this in the middle of Manhattan at the One World Trade Center, with a constant stunning view of the city.
The “Bon Appetit” YouTube channel is a great place to find information about cooking, but it is also a tour of a fantasy work environment — one where everyone is doing what they love, with company they enjoy.