Courtesy of @Lillisketch on Twitter
Out of all the new trends and entertainment taking off because of pandemic induced free time, the Bon Appétit (or BA) Test Kitchen Youtube channel stands as the grand winner. The channel seamlessly combines the class and tradition of a decades old food magazine with the exciting, yet addicting taste of wholesome Youtube content.
“Bon Appétit is special because they get the audience invested in the chef’s success and persona, not just the food itself,” junior Jay Wood said.
The channel is made up of a multitude of shows starring the members of the magazine’s test kitchen staff. Some staff have their own shows, others have shows together and there are always guest appearances within each other’s shows whether purposeful or not.
“The segments are so unique… you can’t find anything like them on cooking shows. They’re both funny and educational, so even if you don’t cook, you still connect with the people,” junior Vivian Dong said. “Each person on Bon Appétit is so different …[in their] backgrounds, styles, and personalities, so it’s so interesting [to watch].”
The videos are unlike any other food content: not abbreviated or highly scripted, no snippets and quick cuts, not characterized by brief dialogue and uniform running times.
Bon Appétit videos can run everywhere from the five minute “Brad Makes Fermented Garlic Honey” “It’s Alive” episode to the “Gourmet Makes” 40 minute long video “Pastry Chef Attempts to Make Gourmet Starbursts.” “Gourmet Makes” and “Its Alive” have emerged among the most popular and iconic of the many shows the channel offers.
“‘Gourmet Makes’ is special because Claire Saffitz is to die for, and because they show the full process she goes through and all the setbacks she faces during the show constructing her foods that make the show what it is,” Wood said.
“Gourmet Makes” chronicles beloved chef Claire Saffitz’s attempts to recreate brand foods into gourmet versions. She has attempted everything from Takis to Twinkies, and stayed laughing throughout no matter the struggle.
Her famed breakdowns and breakthroughs featured in the episodes have earned her the famed social media hashtag “#Iwdfcftbatk,” which translates to “I would die for Claire from the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen.” The series averages between five to 10 million views per video.
“It’s Alive” with Brad is also special because of how quirky and fun it is compared to a normal cooking or food show, which are usually much more serious and scripted,” Wood said.
“It’s Alive” features the charismatic Brad Leone who started the show around attempting fermentation processes, but has since transformed it into so much more. Fans adore his constant banter with his cameraman and his NJ accent mumbling and mixing of common words. He has both a cool dude and dad presence on his show, charming his guests and fellow staff members who are featured on the show. The show receives about three to four million views per video.
“I think “It’s Alive” really connects food with nature and where it came from,” Dong said. “The first time I heard of sourdough starter was on “It’s Alive” and now I feel like everyone’s making it. Brad is so special because he’s a large guy and kinda shouts his words, but he laughs so much and …[is] the type of guy who loves ‘Little Women’. He’s unbothered …and gets along so well with everyone.”
Although they are some of the most well known, these two shows are just a part of the Bon Appétit staff universe that features so many other shows and characters that fans love.
“My favorite Bon Appétit test kitchen member is probably Alex Delaney since he’s super helpful to other Chefs even when it’s not his video, while also being super charismatic,” sophomore Hannah Byrne said. “I just feel like I could totally be friends with him.”
This kind of content blends perfectly with the “The Office” like atmosphere fans cherish about the BA experience. The test kitchen is a set and at the same time a workplace which offers the unplanned interactions, funny background noises and extra action commonly seen in videos.
“The more videos you watch from the test kitchen the more you get to know the different members and their personalities,” Byrne said. “The videos are much more than tutorials since you get to see how they think and work through the recipes.”
Staff members often wander into each other’s videos to help out, test flavors, give advice and always enjoy the final product. Whether it’s Brad assisting Claire with construction on “Gourmet Makes,” or Alex Delaney receiving a signature growl from Brad when he crosses the “It’s Alive” camera path, these types of interactions allow fans to get a look at the company’s atmosphere and fall in love with certain staff members and their relationships with each other.
“The BA members seem super easy going and supportive,” Bryne said. “When something goes wrong everyone helps each other out and they all kind of just roll with the punches.”
Although the staff may appear like one of us while cooking, their expert methods and gorgeous finished products will remind you they are very much worldclass. Their shows emphasize the type of good food and sustainability that needs to be seen more in cooking and life in general.
“The Test Kitchen seems like a place where everyone is really good at what they do and they genuinely enjoy coming into work everyday,” Bryne said. “That being said, no one takes anything too seriously. They all manage to be professional, but remember to still have fun.”
Even at home, the kitchen staff remains actively engaged with both their kitchen community and fans, producing plenty of new content. Recent videos have featured them guessing each other’s movies list or recreating Kraft box mac and cheese to a restaurant quality meal at home.
“I’m currently really loving their at home series. I think it’s super cool that they’re still cranking out a bunch of content for us,” Byrne said. “Being able to see the Bon Appétit members’ families and dogs makes the videos fun and light hearted.”
This in depth look into the staff’s home set ups, personal lives and ongoing relationships with each other, even within a pandemic, is what separates Bon Appétit from the field.
“I’ve watched so much BA over quarantine. It’s like a normal thing in an abnormal time,” Dong said. “It’s a stress relief for me and I never get bored. They’ve been putting out amazing quarantine content from home, and it genuinely excites me when I see a new one pop up.”