Many people claim to be a foodie nowadays. The term is not as elegant, as gourmet or as sophisticated as connoisseur, however it is easily understood. Someone who enjoys eating food, not just out of hunger but for pleasure. Tulane University law student Amanda Taylor claims to be on such person, as well as many others her age. This interest in the production and consumption of food has never been as popular as it is now.
The importance of chefs has changed over time and differs between cultures. Some cultures like in Italy or Japan value the expertise and dedication that comes with being a chef, even within the household. Whereas other cultures may see cooking as a means to an end. You cook to eat and eat to live.
As of recently, more people and cultures are starting to value the cooking process. With the help of social media, people can share their methods of cooking—from learning how to stir-fry on a wok to practicing the various ways of scrambling eggs. Someone can also share with the world the recipes that may have been passed down through their families for generations. Now anyone can learn how to make MawMaw’s gumbo or Italy’s spaghetti aglio e olio from the comfort of their kitchen.
“I remember during my senior year of college when the 30-second minivideos of recipes on Instagram blew up and loved all of it,” said Taylor, remembering when she began consuming cooking media.
Taylor said her best friend bought her a cookbook from a well-known chef she would watch online. She always enjoyed food and cooking due to her family background and living in Houston, a melting pot of different culinary cultures, but she began trying newer recipes as she got older. She would often get new ideas from eating out at restaurants in the city.
“Not only do I like to cook, but I like to eat. I’ll go to restaurants and think ‘OK, I have got to learn how to recreate this for myself.’ Nine times out of 10 you can find the recipe online,” Taylor said. “After a few times you can master it and make it for yourself.”
Some content creators online specialize in making educational content rather than focusing individual recipes. Adam Ragusea, a former journalist and professor at Mercer University turned home cook, produces such content. With videos explaining the differences corn versus flour tortillas or why he seasons his cutting board instead of his steak, he focuses on expanding on the logic behind various cooking methods.
Ragusea’s explanation of his cooking method: seasoning a cutting board rather than meat.
Ragusea shared his YouTube analytics that shows over 70% of his viewing demographic is between 18 and 34 years old. He said that while he isn’t sure that younger people are more interested in cooking now than previously before, he is certain the young men of higher socioeconomic status are more interested mentioning himself as an example.
“For many generations in western civilization, cooking has primarily been a thankless task, usually done by low-status women. Then the celebrity chef phenomenon happens and boom, all of a sudden, preppy boys want to go to culinary school instead of business school,” Ragusea said.
Ragusea said he isn’t bothered by the fact that the culinary arts are getting more attention, in fact he’s glad.
“I just wish more of that respect was being directed at the people who’ve been doing the cooking all along and not the Johnny-come-latelies,” Ragusea said. “For my part, I try to use my channel to encourage the young men watching me to cook as a means of nurturing other people and making them happy, and not as a means of dazzling everybody with your prowess.”
Greatly boosted by the accessibility of social media, the culinary arts are being exposed to a wider audience. Whether it is because they are looking for a healthier alternative to processed foods or if they want to flaunt their expertise, more individuals are trying their hands at a long-overlooked craft.