It cannot be denied that watching certain videos on YouTube is addictive. The video-sharing site has made celebrities of people who post makeup tutorials, unboxing content, and cooking demos. In the case of Andrew Rea, millions of viewers click on his videos to watch him bring to life meals based on TV shows and movies.
The self-proclaimed filmmaker and wannabe chef launched his YouTube channel, Binging With Babish, by re-creating a burger cook-off scene from Parks and Recreation while explaining he always wondered what the food from TV shows and movies would taste like.
Fast-forward almost four years, and Binging With Babish has accumulated nearly 6 million YouTube subscribers. Rea, whose moniker is a nod to the West Wing character Oliver Babish, shoots and edits every video himself. Each segment takes 20 to 60 hours to produce. He has posted nearly 200 videos and releases new episodes weekly.
No matter the recipe, each video is shot in a signature style: The camera is trained on Rea's tattooed arms at all times. The cook's face is never seen to ensure the food is the star of each episode.
"Binging With Babish is a very personal show,” Rea says. “I include a lot of myself in it."
His meal recreations include an intricate timpano from Big Night and a secret-ingredient soup from Kung Fu Panda whose noodles are rumored to take up to ten years to master. “I would describe Binging With Babish as a whimsical tribute in the form of a cooking show,” Rea says. “While in the process, I sometimes make wonderful and sometimes disgusting dishes from your favorite pieces of pop culture."
Rea takes great care to make his re-creations both fun and instructional. “I try to impart as much actual cooking technique as I can and often endeavor to improve on the source recipe as much as possible.”
The YouTuber also relies on his extensive fan base for new ideas. “I constantly and religiously listen to what my audience has to say and what they want to see,” Rea says. “Ninety-five percent of the ideas for Binging With Babish come from audience requests."
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Rae's rise in popularity on the internet has led to the release of his first cookbook, Binging With Babish: 100 Recipes Recreated from Your Favorite Movies and TV Shows. The YouTuber-turned-author is set to sign copies of his new book at the Bar in Coral Gables, in association with Books & Books, on Saturday, January 25. Rea says he'll donate his personal proceeds from the tour to help fight the wildfires in Australia.
The Magic City seems like a natural stop on the book tour. Past episodes of Binging With Babish have included Miami-centric meals such as pollo a la plancha from the film Moonlight and the Cuban sandwich from Chef. Rea has visited Miami once before and checked out institutions such as Joe's Stone Crab in South Beach and Versailles in Little Havana.
After the book tour, Rea has some lofty goals for this year, including a second cookbook and a line of official Babish kitchenware. He's also conceptualizing a brick-and-mortar brewpub in New York City called the Babish. “I want people to come in and be able to have a beer and a snack from local purveyors and dishes from our most popular videos. Come drink a special-edition Babish beer, eat a krabby patty, and watch me make a show.”
Binging With Babish's Andrew Rae Book Signing. Hosted by Books & Book. 3 p.m. Saturday, January 25, at the Bar, 172 Giralda Ave., Coral Gables; 305-442-2730; booksandbooks.com. Tickets cost $34.76 via eventbrite.com.