An embarrassing part of my weekends are spent devouring food shows online. As cult favourites like Buzzfeed’s Worth It series go on hiatus every now and then, self-proclaimed gourmands begin the hunt for new, lesser-known offerings. In the process, we often stumble across productions that are colourful, insightful, and unexpectedly entertaining. Below are a few top picks that you can enjoy for free on Youtube—do write in, if we missed anything that’s extraordinarily good:
Really Dough? by Thrillist
Scott Weiner of Scott’s Pizza Tours and thin-crust legend Mark Iacono (Lucali, Brooklyn) come together for an amusing exploration of New York’s intriguing pizza offerings. Ice cream atop marinara, ramen crusts, sushi-inspired pies with bonito and nori—the show follows Scott as he subjects the stoic and somewhat puritanical Mark to a deluge of innovations. The latter, a seasoned pizzaiolo, finally judges whether the item qualifies as pizza (or not). Considering how Lucali’s been a mainstay in top ten US pizzeria lists for years, Mark knows what he’s talking about.
Really Dough isn’t just an indirect guide to unusual creations in New York; it’s also an effortless lesson on crafting smart, hilarious banter for the masses. Mark doesn’t hold back when he’s appalled, disgusted or just plain annoyed with Scott, and the latter’s enthusiasm never seems to run out. If you (god forbid) hate pizza, you might just keep watching ‘cause of the chemistry.
The Metronome by Sawan Dutta
Based out of Mumbai, Sawan Dutta is a vocalist-composer-songwriter who runs The Metronome, a quirky video song vlog. While her content features travel and random musings, it is her musical recipe collection that’s held viewers’ attention for years. Using rhyme schemes, snappy video editing (and might I add, great style), Sawan humorously takes subscribers through iconic Indian recipes in her trademark, parody-thick Bengali accent. As a former member of Indian Ocean, there’s no doubt about her musical abilities; her productions are slick and irreverent, a refreshing break from the overhead-view-of-hands format we’ve gotten so used to seeing on social media. The kosha mangsho song is a personal favourite.
If you’re ever travelling across rural Sichuan and think you’ve sighted a delicate fairy, it’s probably Li Ziqi. The stunning food blogger is an Internet giant in East Asia, best known for her serene videos of food and handicrafts shot in hilly hometown Mianyang. Combining rustic techniques, all-natural ingredients, and top-notch cinematography, Li’s humble stardom seems well-deserved, after a particularly rough childhood. Viewers get a tranquil view of the Chinese countryside, as well as a hands-on education in traditional recipes and thought processes. Often accompanied by adorable animals, the mountain girl shows every step that goes into producing delectable items like peach blossom wine, spicy crawfish, and snowflake cake.
The practice of making pasta from scratch is slowly disappearing from Italian homes. More and more millennials prefer to cook the dry, industrially-manufactured variants, instead of spending time kneading, resting and hand-cutting the dough. Perhaps rushed schedules have wrung the love out of the labour. Nevertheless, their nonnas’ inviting kitchens persist as a last refuge for the country’s pasta traditions—and this is the knowledge bank that writer Vicky Bennison continues to tap into with Pasta Grannies. Saffron-flavoured ravioli in Sardinia; Sicily’s lolli pasta with beans; pasticcio ferrarese, where pasta, ragu and pastry come together during the holidays in Emilia Romagna...it’s a never-ending archive of Italian food history, straight from the horse’s mouth. As you might have guessed, the shy narrators and their mountains of cheese have quickly gathered a loyal audience.
There’s a few favourites whose names we’ve left out, by virtue of their channels’ existing fame and subscriber counts. But once you’re done watching the list above, do take a look at the deliciously snarky You Suck at Cooking, the film recreations of Binging with Babish, or sushi master series Omakase on Eater. For something closer to home, pay your respects to Karre Mastanamma, the star of Country Foods. The 107-year-old village chef from Andhra passed away last December, with a legacy that's inspired several rural cooking channels to gain a foothold in Youtube India.