5 TikTok, YouTube, Instagram food channels from Bay Area and beyond
How much Food Network can a person really watch? OK, a lot.
But if you’re looking for channels with a local flavor or something with a historic bend, perhaps, check out one of the tastemakers below. Their TikTok videos, Instagram short films and YouTube episodes will teach you how to cook, show you where to score the best pandemic-era burrito and just keep you entertained and smiling.
Bay Area Foodies
Kalbijjim croissants? Hamburger sushi? Olive oil fondue? The bite-sized food and restaurant videos on Tim Cheung’s TikTok channel, @BayAreaFoodies, provide a peek into distinctive dishes and local gems, like the garlic bread banh mi at San Jose’s Doc Huong (“It’s crispy, buttery, garlicky!”) and the heart-shaped, gold leaf-topped street taco trays were offered during Valentine’s Day at San Jose’s Tacos Los Tres Reyes. Cheung’s 215,000 followers no doubt also watch for adorable shots of his fluffy white dog eating wagyu (“He’ll refuse to eat kibble ever again”).
P.S.: That hamburger sushi is $10 at San Mateo’s Takahashi Market.
Ippuku short films
One week, he’s hairy-chested and grooving with a yakitori in one hand and a chicken puppet in the other. The next, Masa Sugawara, general manager of Berkeley’s Ippuku yakitori restaurant, is a working-class Joe arriving home and searching his pockets for what we expect to be house keys, but winds up being a glistening skewer of pork. Sugawara’s odd and often stylish restaurant ads-meet-shorts started as a way to help promote Ippuku’s pivot to bento boxes on Instagram. But the videos, which Sugawara shoots, stars in and edits via his film company, MaSa3film, have become one of the more innovative and entertaining distractions on Bay Area restaurant social media. The number of wigs alone is impressive.
Your Korean Dad
Nick Cho is known locally as the co-founder of Berkeley and San Francisco’s Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters. But he’s reached worldwide stardom as “Your Korean Dad,” a TikTok channel in which the the third-wave java-preneur pretends to be your lockdown dad. And Cho, a father of two, is the ultimate teddy bear.
He shows his 2.2 million followers how to jazz up instant curry from your freezer (“Mmm, these crispy little chicken nuggets are so good!”) and ramyun with American cheese (1.6 million views). He goes shopping for snacks at Walgreens, explains colonialism via crispy duck banh mi and slips in heartwarming messages to youngsters battling loneliness (“I’m really sorry for how much you’re hurting”). All the heart emojis.
The Knight’s medieval foods
If you’re obsessed with the elaborate feasts on “Downton Abbey” and “Bridgerton,” then many of the episodes on this YouTube channel from Modern History TV’s Jason Kingsley will provide plenty of binge-watching fodder. It’s medieval-inspired fare, not Regency or Edwardian, but it will appeal to any food history buff. Kingsley, an OBE — officer of the Order of the British Empire — delves into the food traditions of jousters, queens and peasants alike. What did posh lords and ladies — or servants — eat in medieval times? Was any of it healthy? Food historian Chris Carr provide context to all the minced meat, stewed fruits and custards and explains how celebrity chefs date back thousands of years. Huzzah!
Chef John Mitzewich, a former San Francisco chef and California Culinary Academy instructor, has been teaching home cooks online practically as long as YouTube’s been around. Today, Food Wishes, Mitzewich’s wildly-popular YouTube cooking channel, has 3.8 million subscribers and more than 800 million viewers who tune in to learn to make a tasty beef and cheese lasagna (7.9 million views) or crispy onion rings (6.2 million views) or how to seed a pomegranate (2.7 million views).
His practical, reassuring lessons and no-ego approach — you don’t see his face, just hands, ingredients and cookware — have no doubt helped fuel the surge in home cooking during COVID. His companion blog, complete with recipe amounts and ingredients, makes things even easier.