VIDEO STARS Emma Freud takes a look at the rise of how-to video recipes

Short, sim­ple and ef­fec­tive, recipe videos are dom­i­nat­ing our so­cial me­dia feeds. Emma Freud meets one of the cre­ators of the pop­u­lar un­der-£10 recipe videos

BBC Good Food - - Inside Goodfood - @em­mafreud

Those melty, cheesy, deep-fried dishes are click­bait

n an oth­er­wise unas­sum­ing day in Novem­ber last year, Delia Smith shocked the culi­nary world by declar­ing that the cook­book is dead and she will not be writ­ing an­other. ‘Printed recipes are point­less now that we can browse the web’, she said. Delia is right about vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing in life, but de­spite com­pe­ti­tion from ev­ery quar­ter, the cook­book is still go­ing strong. Last year, we spent over £90 mil­lion on food and drink books – our high­est to­tal ever. We’re still de­voted to cook­books – and, of course, cook­ery magazines, like your very own Good Food, which is still Britain’s best-sell­ing food mag­a­zine. How­ever, our search for recipes is ex­pand­ing into ad­di­tional plat­forms where video is king.

On Face­book, In­sta­gram, Youtube and web­sites, mini movies are quick on the info, big on the light­ing, and ooz­ing in the re­sults. In an in­dus­try that used to rate its he­roes by the amount of stars they’d gained from Miche­lin, the on­line rat­ing sys­tem is all about the num­bers of fol­low­ers on so­cial me­dia. The In­sta­gram ver­sions of th­ese videos tend not to fea­ture cooks or voiceovers – just the in­gre­di­ents, busy hands, up­beat mu­sic and sim­ple cap­tions – and most of them last un­der a minute. (Check out what our team do on in­sta­gram. com/ bbc­good­food ). That’s enough time to learn how to deep-fry ice cream which has been wrapped in cookie dough, or how to make a 12-inch wide dou­ble ham­burger which ex­plodes a vol­cano of melted cheese when you cut into it. Over on Youtube, the video chef is more dom­i­nant – but doesn’t have to be the realm of young mil­len­ni­als. Mas­tanamma Karre has some of the high­est view­ing fig­ures. Her videos are longer – around 10 min­utes – and demon­strate the tra­di­tional way of cooking In­dian food us­ing a pes­tle and mor­tar, her hands in­stead of spoons and a sin­gle pan over an open fire in front of her house. She is 106 years old. De­spite her re­sis­tance to us­ing a hair­dresser, makeup or spe­cial light­ing, her Youtube chan­nel has 824,000 sub­scribers and she gets an av­er­age of 2-4 mil­lion hits per video. Her recipe for chicken cooked in­side a hol­lowed out wa­ter­melon was seen by over 10 mil­lion peo­ple. And at the newer end of this spec­trum is Mob Kitchen (mobkitchen.co.uk), started by a De­liv­eroo driver called Ben Le­bus with no train­ing, apart from a teenage spent watch­ing TV cooking shows, but a driv­ing de­sire to show his peer group how to cook a meal for four peo­ple for un­der £10. A year ago, his only fol­lower was his mum, whose kitchen he took over to make his one-minute videos. He posted them twice a week re­gard­less, and asked any­one who viewed his recipes to tag a friend they thought would like the meal. Mob Kitchen now has over 47,000 fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram.

Ever keen to jump on a band­wagon, I went to Ber­mond­sey to spend a morn­ing with Ben. He’s just moved into a new stu­dio flat to the de­light of his mum who was over­joyed to get her kitchen back, and above his hob is a locked-off cam­era so ev­ery video can be shot from an aerial view. What you can’t see is the stu­dent en­vi­ron­ment be­hind the cam­era: the lovely chaos sur­round­ing the clean cooking shot, the tiny larder and the lack of any­thing which isn’t part of that day’s recipe. ‘If it’s not in the video, I ba­si­cally don’t have it,’ he ad­mit­ted. ‘Was there a need for an­other set of one-minute videos?,’ I asked. ‘It’s re­ally im­por­tant to us not to be cre­at­ing food porn. Those melty cheesy, mass choco­latey, deep-fried dishes which look amaz­ing are ba­si­cally click­bait – they aren’t real food. We want to make proper meals that are de­li­cious, healthy, in­ex­pen­sive and cooked from scratch – but al­ways feed a fam­ily of four for un­der a ten­ner. That’s our bible. All you need on top is olive oil, salt and pep­per. Which is pretty much all I have here.’

He’s very driven, and not just for more fol­low­ers… ‘The point is, some­thing needs to change. The av­er­age UK stu­dent ar­rives at col­lege know­ing how to cook four meals. Lots of young peo­ple just switch off when a real chef talks but peo­ple love that I’m not trained. I have no knife skills, no firm cooking times, I’m all about a splash of this and a hand­ful of that – I want to leave peo­ple feel­ing con­fi­dent about cooking with­out mea­sur­ing. And if I make mis­takes, our fol­low­ers let me know about it.’

So we spent the morn­ing co-cre­at­ing the recipe op­po­site. It’s a mix­ture of his most pop­u­lar dish with some Freud ad­di­tions – my home­made co­rian­der flat­breads filled with his spicy veg with chick­peas, my amaz­ing, al­most-leg­endary green spicy sauce, and Ben’s tzatziki. It’s prop­erly de­li­cious, healthy, teen-friendly, messy to eat, fun to cook (though maybe not quite as much fun as I had with Ben), and will cost four peo­ple less than a ten­ner.

Good Food con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor Emma Freud is a jour­nal­ist and broad­caster, di­rec­tor of Red Nose Day and a co-pre­sen­ter of Ra­dio Four’s Loose Ends.

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