Type ‘cooking’ into the YouTube search engine and you get 27,900,000 results—way out ahead of ‘gardening’ (1,380,000), and almost as many as the results returned for ‘Obama’ (30,700,000). Granted, the number is dwarfed by the search results for ‘Justin Bieber’ (203,000,000), ‘naked’ (51,600,000), or even ‘cats’ (47,400,000), but still, it’s pretty impressive.
With those kinds of numbers, there is obviously something for everyone, from the entertaining to the solidly instructive, plus plenty of quirks, niches, and the gratuitously not-ready-for-prime-time. Sure, there are times when you just want to gawk at an enormous-breasted women slicing ginger or the 11-year boy who will eat anything on a dare. I’m not judging. But this is about cooking, for those times when you are looking for the prosaic and practical. Guidance, advice, and inspiration. YouTube never disappoints.
High quality production, an extensive library of recipes, and an easily navigable website for recipe backup, YouTube cooking channels don’t get any better than Food Wishes. It’s the first place we go for a crash course in homemade mayonnaise or duck butchery, and a reliable source of inspiration when we want to pay homage to the foods of Provence, throw a Salvadorean-themed dinner party, or use up the too-many spring greens we bought at the farmers market.
Novice cooks swear by the videos from Start Cooking. They cover the most basic of cooking basics (how to fry an egg, steam rice, or make English muffin pizzas in a toaster oven), and advance to the merely basic (roast a chicken, bake brownies). There’s plenty of detailed instruction, but it’s never preachy or tedious.
The video hosts of Delectable Planet want to see you eating lower on the food chain, and they encourage you with a chipper earnestness and not even a hint of condescension. It doesn’t hurt that the plant-based recipes are seriously tasty.
There’s something about Dave. Dave Can Cook is not the slickest show out there. The segments are loose and unscripted, the recipes lean toward hearty, homely, countrified dishes, and Dave’s grasp of the technology is shaky at best. But he’s a natural cook and host, relaxed and affable, with genuine enthusiasm for the whole process. In other words, he’s the real deal. And if you want to know how to season your new cast iron pan, he’s your man.
Ethnic cuisines, with their often unfamiliar ingredients, equipment, and techniques, can be especially well-served by the video format.
We like to get our Indian cooking lessons from Chef Vah of VahRehVah. The recipes vary from the somewhat dumbed-down and Americanized to wildly exotic and challenging.
The Japanese chef-host cooks and narrates while Francis the poodle provides French-accented English translations. It’s the inimitable Cooking with Dog, and you’ll have to see it for yourself, because you probably won’t believe me when I tell you that it works.
The dizzying camera work and fast cuts of Maangchi’s Cooking Show make high drama of Korean home cooking. Host Maangchi barely breaks a sweat while manhandling 10 pounds of cabbage for the kimchi segment, but you might need a nap afterward.
Italians turn to Giallo Zafferano for their pizza and pasta primers. The English-language version, Yellow Saffron, is no less authentic, but a lot easier to follow.
An 80-something Jewish bubbe (Yiddish for grandmother) prepares classic Jewish foods like brisket, kugel, and borscht, as the host of the wildly endearing Feed Me Bubbe.
For classic French dishes and techniques, it doesn’t get any better than Julia Child . Enlightening, entertaining, accessible, and undiminished by the years, her timeless PBS shows are finding a new audience and reconnecting with the old one on YouTube.