I don’t have a television show to recommend bingeing this week. At the moment, nothing is really sticking out to me. Maybe I need to watch some new stuff I haven’t seen yet. Or, I mean, there are shows I enjoy a lot that I haven’t recommended yet. They just aren’t top of mind because they aren’t what I’ve been doing. There are three things I’ve been watching recently in my down time. One is 30 Rock, which I recommended last week. The other two are shows from the Bon Appétit YouTube channel. Yes, I have been watching a ton of Gourmet Makes and It’s Alive.
I feel like I have touched on Gourmet Makes in the past, but didn’t give it a full-on recommendation. It’s the clear standout show for Bon Appétit, which is a pretty cold take. People love it. Every episode gets millions of views. Gourmet Makes definitely seems to be the most-popular show on the channel. Which, I mean, I get it.
The premise is fun. Host Claire Saffitz take some sort of snack food or candy, Snickers, Cheetos, Jelly Belly, etc, and then makes a “gourmet” version of them. Yes, she is recreated in a kitchen mass-produced snack foods. She has the skills to make that happen, and also tries to improve upon them a bit. It’s a great concept, and it’s a lot of fun to watch her try and do it. I’d watch basically any of Bon Appétit’s personalities host Gourmet Makes, but Claire is also a great host. She’s got a lot of charm and she’s good on camera. Claire has personality, but is not a real force of nature that can start to feel overwhelming over a long period of time. Plus, what makes Bon Appétit’s channel so good is that these are actually shows. They are edited and produced so that they actually are dynamic and fun to watch, as opposed to some YouTube videos.
Other chefs from the Test Kitchen pop up on Gourmet Makes, and the highlight is usually when Brad Leone shows up, which brings me to It’s Alive. That’s Brad’s show. When I mentioned force of nature personalities, that’s Brad in a nutshell. He’s loud and brash and never stops talking. He has a ton of energy. Which, honestly, kept me from checking out It’s Alive for a while. Given the current circumstances, though, I finally bit the bullet. OK, maybe the first one I watched had Claire as the guest host. However, it made me realize just how well-produced It’s Alive is.
There is a lot of production that goes into making It’s Alive fun and funny. More than Gourmet Makes. That’s also perfect for a show with Brad as the host. The kinetic energy of the production meets Brad at his level. The show is about making food that has some sort of “life” to it, like sourdough bread or fermented food. It’s a fine premise, but mostly I watch for the people involved.
For Gourmet Makes, I recommend only watching the more recent ones, but that’s still over a year of them. The early ones have kinks that needed to be worked out. For It’s Alive, I would start with the three episode journey of Claire and Brad making sourdough donuts. After that, the episodes with guests tend to be better, but Brad is still fine solo. It’s easy watching, the kind of thing you can put on while you, say, run on a treadmill or cook. It’ll keep you company, and that’s something all you need.