There is no shortage of cooking channels on YouTube. Binging with Babish, First We Feast and Tasty have all produced some high-quality content. But there’s one channel that really stands out from the rest. It’s not only a cooking show, but also a “cooking parody.” With a whopping audience of 2.13 million subscribers, it’s the YouTube channel You Suck At Cooking.
On the surface, You Suck At Cooking seems like your typical Youtube cooking channel, where a faceless narrator goes through simple home cook recipes for foods like chili, garlic bread and loaded baked potatoes. But when you watch the episodes, the channel’s facade of normalcy quickly disappears.
For instance, in the kale chip episode (episode 60), the narrator starts the video by “humbling” his kale. He proceeds to put his kale in a corner and insult the vegetable in the second person for an entire minute by comparing it to superior greens like arugula, red leaf lettuce and mixed greens. He belittles the kale for “being boring” and having “the texture of rubber.” Worst of all, the narrator “reminds” kale that it will NEVER really be a lettuce and should not forget that. (This statement becomes even more ridiculous when he informs the audience that kale is a cruciferous vegetable). He only stops when he reluctantly admits kale is better than iceberg lettuce (which he calls the flavorless texture ball).
If this sounds silly and absurd… well, it is. You Suck At Cooking is a strange funhouse mirror version of a typical cooking show. Like any good parody, it exaggerates and twists the conventions of the genre. There isn’t a professional studio kitchen with high power equipment and granite countertops; instead, the set is a barebones home kitchen with an electric stovetop and plastic spatulas. The narrator, instead of being a well-informed charismatic chef, is a faceless monotone voice that has nonsensical tangents about “baking baking,” his failed love life and the convoluted backstories of his pet robot, Roberto. Even stranger, whether it’s toasting bread with a truck, finding nails in his kale or having a multi-episode mystery about egg cops, the food (and, by extension, the cooking) is nonsensical. In the show’s world, even the basic rules of reality don’t apply. Potatoes can light paper on fire, mini tomato cans are inside actual tomatoes and sandwiches are “fished” from ponds. Sometimes, even the episode titles are treated as an extended joke (for example, “ASMR Potato Latkes”).
If I had to compare the show to anything, it would be the Eric Andre Show. The hosts ask guests seemingly random questions, will randomly fight the crew over petty arguments and create a reality that defies basic logic of late-night television. Yes, the Eric Andre Show is still a talk show, but it exploits absurdist humor and parody to twist the show into something new. You Suck At Cooking embraces that same formula and applies it to food.
The most impressive thing about You Suck At Cooking is that the recipes are surprisingly good. The recipes are made for any casual home cook who needs to make a quick meal on the weekend rather than an ambitious foodie trying to become the next Gordon Ramsay. Instead of foie gras or creme brulee, You Suck At Cooking prepares grilled cheeses, breakfast burritos and turkey sandwiches. It’s a channel where cooking is not an unbeatable obstacle but an approachable tool that anyone can use.
If you’re interested in checking out the show, you can watch four-minute episodes on YouTube for free. If the 104 episodes are not enough content for you, the channel’s new book (aptly named “You Suck At Cooking”) is also a fun read. It serves as a parody of cookbooks, with recipes such as Easiest Salad Dressing On Earth, Second Easiest Salad Dressing On Earth and Third Easiest Salad Dressing On Earth. Either way, you’ll hopefully learn how to cook and laugh along the way, too.