Are YouTube food channels killing TV chefs?

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Internet food channels draw huge audiences and attract big-name chefs. Lucy McDonald, herself an online cook, believes this is only the beginning

Vegan Black Metal Chef may sound like an Iron Maiden tribute band but it is actually one of YouTube's most successful and entertaining cookery channels. The recipes are made to the sounds of… yes you guessed it… black metal music, which is a ferocious subgenre of heavy metal. Recipes are filmed in a kitchen that looks like a dungeon and watched by three and a half million people.

Who knew the world had so many black metal food-lovers? Or that many vegans.

Although it is unlikely to be commissioned by the Food Network, Vegan Black Metal Chef brilliantly demonstrates not only the power of niche programming, but how food is drawing some of YouTube's biggest audiences. YouTube has 800 million viewers and they all need to eat.

Andy Taylor, founder of newly launched YouTube production company Little Dot Studios, says: "Food's very visual so it works well on screen, but a lot of TV food programming is less about the recipe and more about entertainment. YouTube allows viewers to explore their own interests. If you want a video on how to cook the world's crunchiest onion rings, not only will you find it, but you'll also find tips from others who have cooked that exact recipe. It's immediate. It's interactive. It's the future."

Delia Smith agrees. Last month she announced she was abandoning the small screen, for the even smaller one of the nation's computers and tablets. She has set up an on-line cookery school on her website. Not because she couldn't get a new TV series – the BBC is reported to have asked her – but because she is tired of cookery shows being more focused on entertainment than good old-fashioned recipes. Delia says: "When I started, there was further education at the BBC; now you have to entertain."

The campaign for an on-screen collaboration between Delia and Black Metal Vegan Chef starts here.

So has YouTube killed the TV chef? Well, food is one of YouTube's most popular video streams and it is looking to expand its curated culinary collection. It is trying to make the transition from a hotchpotch of viral videos to more ordered content. Last year it launched 100 original channels, one of which is hosted by Jamie Oliver. Gordon Ramsay was quicker off the mark and his long-established channel has a loyal following.

Even the best cookbook library cannot undermine the speed and sheer breadth of the internet. Cooks curious about a particular technique can click through YouTube archives and be walked through making choux pastry, a hollandaise sauce or a castle-shaped children's birthday cake.

Most viewers watch the video first, follow the written recipe underneath and then rewind and pause to watch the tricky bits again. Another advantage of watching recipes online is mobility.

For example, if you are following a recipe from the BBQ Pit Boys on fire-roasting sweet potatoes, you can watch it on your phone in the back garden, tongs in hand, charcoal smouldering.

It may be a scary thought for traditional media, but the internet is not just full of amateurs. Big players are increasingly after a piece of digital pie. For example, in the States, Bruce Seidel was a senior executive at both the Food Network and Cooking Channel, but now heads up the Hungry YouTube channel – it has 73,000 subscribers and nearly 5 million views. In the UK the Sorted boys have been posting recipe videos since May 2010, which makes them pioneers of the British YouTube food community. Even Jamie's FoodTube channel trails behind, with 184,000 subscribers to their 258,000 – most of them young women.

Jamie Stafford, one of the five good-looking co-founders, thinks the medium is about to explode. He says: "People get YouTube now in a way they didn't, say even six months ago. They understand it's different from, not inferior to, TV. Food is definitely growing."

At this juncture, I must confess an interest. I want cookery shows on YouTube to succeed. That is because I have a YouTube cookery channel – called crumbsfood – that I run with my sister Claire as a spin off of our blog of the same name.

We are both journalists and mums and our "niche" is easy, quick recipes that are full of shortcuts.

The irony is that filming time-saving recipes for busy parents to follow, makes us even busier and only capable of feeding our own children takeaways.

A love of eating inspired us to start our family food blog crumbsfood.co.uk three years ago. We were both busy mothers with young children who no longer had the time to cook gourmet food. It was a place for us to share ideas and recipes that were tasty to eat, but fast to make.

It hit a nerve and no one was more surprised than us when we started to be featured in the best food blog round-ups. So when Little Dot Studios offered us the chance to make some beautifully-produced films of us cooking our favourite family recipes we jumped at it. We have now posted 50 videos and have nearly 5000 subscribers, including lots of regulars who always (well, nearly) write nice things about us in the comment sections.

Nonetheless it is the most enjoyable part of my working life (although, alas to date the least lucrative) not only because I love hanging out with my sister, but because it genuinely feels we are on the cusp of the YouTube revolution.

YouTube used to be about videos, but now it is about channels that viewers subscribe to for free. Unlimited broadband width means there is more shelf space for more channels.

Taylor left the UK's biggest TV production company, All3Media, to start Little Dot Studios – a sign of how seriously the industry is taking things.

He says: "This is the next wave of programme watching. We had three TV channels, then four, then 20 and now people take for granted the hundreds of channels out there. So niche programming on YouTube is about to take off even more, especially when people start streaming what they watch on their computer through their TV." Research by Cisco – the computer networking company – predicts that by 2017 video will make up two thirds of online traffic. At the end of 2012 it was half.

There are many weird and wonderful cookery shows on YouTube. Free from traditional broadcast constraints, programming and presenters are often a little kookier.

For example, there is a Japanese channel Cooking with Dog. Calm down, the dog is not an ingredient, but an observer. Still, it is strangely hypnotic and needs to be watched to be believed.

The YouTube audience is broad and each channel has its own demographic. The audience of 20-year-old Rafael Gomes's channel – ItsRaphaBlueberry - is mostly teenage girls and the Portuguese-born, London-living student hopes he is inspiring the next generation of cooks. He says: "YouTube is more fun to watch than reading a recipe and it's more interactive than watching a professional chef on TV. YouTube cookery channels will eventually replace TV. Chefs like Jamie Oliver are trying to get on board, as they know if you're looking for recipe you are more likely to browse the internet than look at the TV guide."

Sara O'Donnell of cult LA food channel, Average Betty, agrees. She says: "I think food works so well on YouTube because viewers can learn a recipe in 5 minutes compared to the traditional TV half hour. I also think people really feel like they are coming into my kitchen. That they are hanging out with me."

Normal TV is not interactive – even when used alongside Twitter. If, when watching The Great British Bake Off, you are unsure about substituting wholemeal with plain flour, odds are Mary Berry won't get straight back to you with an answer. But with YouTube it is a two-way conversation. There is a much tighter connection between viewer and presenter.

Post a comment under a video and if the presenter doesn't answer it, someone else in the community will. Feedback is instantaneous and the success of a recipe can be tracked by both number of views and thumbs up.

One of crumbsfood's most popular YouTube recipes is our five-minute chocolate cake in a cup. Guess what Sorted and ItsRaphaBlueberry's are too?

Yup, cake in a cup. So, rest assured that although the medium is changing, our love affair with chocolate remains a constant.

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
News
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives his annual televised question-and-answer session
peopleBizarre TV claim
Arts & Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'
tv
VIDEO
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Life & Style
life
Life & Style
fashion
News
weird news
Sport
Pablo Larrazabal jumps into a pond in Kuala Lumpur to escape a swarm of hornets
videoSpain's Pablo Larrazabal's had a refreshing solution
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Sport
Jonathan Trott will take a second break from cricket after suffering a repeat of the stress-related illness that forced him out of the Ashes tour of Australia
sport
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    NGO and Community Development in Cambodia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...

    Sports coaching volunteer jobs

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Kaya Responsible Travel offer a variety of sp...

    Turtle Nesting and Coral Reef Conservation in Borneo

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Volunteer with Kaya in Borneo and work on a p...

    Elephant research project in Namibia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: If you have a passion for elephants and want ...

    Day In a Page

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit