For many of us in quarantine, YouTube has become a main source of food-related content. Whether it’s a celebrity chef roasting a fellow TV star or street vendors cooking eight-foot pots of curry, YouTube seems to have an endless library of food content. However, if you’re looking for a cooking show, you may want to check out one of YouTube’s most popular food channels: Binging with Babish.
Binging with Babish is the creation of Andrew Rea. As a young cinephile and foodie, Rea grew up with a deep love of movies and food. He went to college to study film, but after years in a post-production job, Rea fell into a deep depression. During his recovery, he started his own cooking show on his YouTube channel called Binging with Babish (named after the “West Wing” character Oliver Babish) as a creative outlet.
The show’s format is simple. It starts with a brief food clip from a film or television show (ranging from “Agents of Shield,” “Harry Potter,” “Mad Men,” “The Simpsons” and “Parks and Recreation”). Rea, as the faceless narrator, then recreates the dish from the clip. As a recorded voice-over instructs the audience with step-by-step directions, Rea sometimes invents his own version of the episode’s dish to see if he can improve it. When the episode ends, Rea tastes his creation and determine whether the meal falls into the “Clean Plate Club” (which means the food is so good, he can’t help but finish the entire plate).
Today, Binging with Babish has an audience of more than six million subscribers. Rea has become one of the most famous cooking personalities on YouTube. In fact, Rea’s newfound fame has landed him multiple guest appearances on other prominent Youtube channels, including First We Feast, Vanity Fair, and GQ. Rea has also expanded his channel with two new shows: Basic with Babish (a cooking show where Rea teaches the fundamentals of cooking) and Being with Babish (a vlog-like series of Rea meeting with fans and sharing personal anecdotes). In addition, the channel has published its first cookbook: “Binging with Babish: 100 Recipes Recreated from Your Favorite Movies and TV Shows.”
Personally, I would argue that Binging with Babish is a perfect example of a cooking show made for YouTube. The short episode length makes the series great for hour-long binges. Its cinema-inspired recipes help promote the episodes on YouTube’s algorithms. Most importantly, the show’s vlog-like aesthetics emphasize the food and ingredients rather than the cook himself. In other words, the Binging with Babish show is uniquely YouTube.
With more than 150 episodes to choose from, it’s understandable for new viewers to be a bit overwhelmed. So, here are a few good starting points.
The “Essential Kitchen Tools | Basics with Babish” is a great episode that goes over some basic equipment (such as non-stick pans and cutting boards). A lot of these tools are used in other episodes, so this is a great introduction to the channel. Another good episode from the Basics of Babish Series is “General Tso’s Chicken”. If you’re a fan of American Chinese takeout, this episode goes into detail on how to fry your chicken and create your own General Tso’s sauce.
When it comes to the main Binging with Babish series, I suggest watching “Pasta Aglio e Olio from ‘Chef'”. The Pasta Aglio e Olio is an affordable and flavorful recipe that utilizes citrus, parsley and garlic. (Also, watch “Chef” on Netflix, it’s a great movie). Then, there’s “Ratatouille (Confit Byaldi) from ‘Ratatouille'”. Any fan of Pixar’s official foodie movie will love this episode. Not only does Rea bake the movie’s iconic Ratatouille (Confit Byaldi), he also blends an incredible roasted pepper sauce that I’ve found is amazing in both pasta and stews. Lastly, in a more recent video, Rea paid tribute to the Oscar-winning film “Parasite” in “Ram-Don from ‘Parasite.'” In the episode, Rea remakes the film’s Ram-Don (Jjapaguri), prepares his own version and explains the film’s themes by eating a Big Mac with 20 grams of fresh winter black truffles.
So, if you are a foodie, cinephile or just looking for a cooking show on YouTube, please check out Binging with Babish. It’s definitely worth a binge.