January 23, 2019
In my favorite show on YouTube, pastry chef Claire Saffitz begins by eating a lot of Pringles. For research.
It's the start to just one of her many junk food conquests on "Gourmet Makes" from Bon Appetit that brings Saffitz to the far corners of the Internet, looting the test kitchen's industrial freezers for bizarre ingredients so she can recreate childhood junk food favorites — but better.
A foodie friend told me about these videos a couple of months ago, and I devoured every episode in a single day. Saffitz walks viewers through how to make gourmet Twizzlers, gourmet instant ramen, and gourmet Lucky Charms all at home. Her latest conquest is to recreate the melt-in-your-mouth saltiness of a Pringle.
But the point of the show isn't necessarily to help us make these snacks at home. After all, it would cost you exponentially more in time, money and resources to exactly match the squish of the yellow Twinkie cake. The point is just to watch her do it and see if she can do it.
Saffitz scientifically approaches the re-creation of treats like Skittles with all the meticulousness of a brain surgeon, taking into account not just flavors, but signature textures and colors, too. Because a Cheeto isn't a Cheeto if it's not covered with bright orange cheese dust, right?
In one memorable episode, she individually injects fruit juice into gelatin-infused fruit compote that she froze into jewel molds to make Gushers. When she recreates instant ramen, she cuts a drying rack to thread cooked noodles through the slats and get that traditional curly, dried-noodle shape.
Saffitz has garnered such a loyal fan base with her "Gourmet Makes" videos that she has even inspired fan art.
She's charming, she's earnest and most importantly, she's so relatable. A gourmet chef struggling and admitting doing this assignment is stupid is my self care.
My favorite part of the 20-minute videos are when Saffitz starts to slowly come unraveled, whining into the camera and praying someone will allow her to give up. No, there's no way she actually used three days of her work week to fry and refry noodles! It was all a fever dream!
I love when she begs a coworker to taste her (usually imperfect) creation and gets mad at their critiques, like when she attempts a Kit Kat: "I want you to know that I can accept zero criticism right now."
She is me, she is you, she is all of us cooking (with a lot more knowledge and skill) and it's wonderful.