Many of us are spending quarantine making sourdough starters and baking cinnamon rolls, but the chefs at Bon Appetit have been doing it for ages, and continue to do so despite cooking at home. For those of you unfamiliar with the test kitchen, Bon Appetit is the YouTube channel for a food magazine based in New York. The YouTube Channel currently has 5.85 million subscribers, featuring shows such as Gourmet Makes where pastry chef Claire Saffitz attempts to recreate snack foods in the test kitchen; It’s Alive with Brad Leone, microbial food culture enthusiast; Reverse Engineering with Chris Morocco who attempts to recreate recipes through scent, taste, touch, but no sight; and Back-to-Back Chef with Carla Lalli-Music who guides a celebrity through a recipe – while they stand back-to-back.
Since the switch to the various chefs’ home kitchens, the new recipes the chefs have filmed have been incorporating more common ingredients. Some of the recent home kitchen videos have included 13 Kinds of Pantry Pasta, Sour Cream and Onion Biscuits, 3 Kinds of Homemade Pasta, and 9 Kinds of Pantry Sandwiches. The chefs are all very charismatic and personable and have, as a result, built a massive fan base (Saffitz is said to have developed a cult following for Gourmet Makes) on social media. Since cooking from home, there’s been an increase in guest appearances by kids and pets – what more could you want?
On May 1, the Test Kitchen staff hosted a live fundraiser on YouTube to raise money for the World Central Kitchen. Over the course of an almost two-and-a-half-hour show, BA raised a total of $185,616. The WCK is currently working to distribute packaged, fresh meals to communities in need due to the coronavirus outbreak. The BA staff hosted a Variety Show on Friday night, featuring segments such as a whipped cream speed challenge, a feature on the staff members’ pets, an interview with Ina Garten, a Q&A, and several pre-prepared montages such as a cursing montage, a cutting onions montage, and a best of Brad Leone montage.
I was personally a fan of the whipping cream challenge (Chris Morocco took first place by whipping cream in 30 seconds to the point where he could hold the bowl over his head and nothing fell out), Carla’s son being her arms in Front-to-Back, and the pre-edited montages. There was a little bit of inevitable awkwardness throughout the course of the show with internet delays, but various members of the staff got tipsier and tipsier throughout the show, which really added character to what could’ve been a very bland show. There was a live comments feed from viewers around the world that was so active that the BA tech staff had to comment and ask everyone to slow down as they couldn’t keep up with all of the messages.
Overall, the show was very entertaining, although a little long as I ultimately decided to join the Lionsgate La La Land livestream instead of watching the last 45 minutes of the show. However, it was clear the staff and the viewers were all having a good time, and, of course, it was all for a great cause. I highly recommend Bon Appetit – they have an endless supply of videos on their channel, and they continue to post multiple times a week. The videos will no doubt make you very hungry, but they’ll inspire you to head to your kitchen and become a pro chef yourself. And you might as well use this time to get into cooking!
The donation link for the World Central Kitchen is still up on the livestream recording, and I’ve included it here.