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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape