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How BuzzFeed's 'Tasty' kitchen built an empire of Internet foodies




Scalloped potatoes fresh out of the oven at BuzzFeed's Tasty studios in Hollywood.
Scalloped potatoes fresh out of the oven at BuzzFeed's Tasty studios in Hollywood.
Courtesy of BuzzFeed's Tasty

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Holiday get-togethers are a perfect time to up your cooking game, and if you’re looking for a new dish to impress family and friends, chances are you’ve searched online. And if you have, you've probably come across BuzzFeed's culinary video series, Tasty.

The Tasty brand is famous for its top-down style of two hands whipping up a dish in fast motion. Their recent recipe of a chicken Alfredo penne reached more than 20 million Facebook views in just one hour of posting.

With almost 7,000 videos gone viral, the Hollywood kitchen is building an empire of Internet foodies and continues to be a game changer for online recipe sharing. Since their launch in 2015, the studio has earned more than 62 billion lifetime views across all platforms, and added studios in New York, Japan, the U.K. and more.

On today's menu: scalloped potatoes four ways, meatball-stuffed pastry rings, loaded queso and a tower of cream puffs.

Tasty producer Alix Traeger pours a decadent béchamel sauce over one of her scalloped potatoes.

Béchamel sauce made from scratch with milk, butter, flour, salt and pepper.
Béchamel sauce made from scratch with milk, butter, flour, salt and pepper.
Courtesy of BuzzFeed's Tasty

"So that’s always kinda the shots you’re looking for in something like this," Traeger says. "We literally have it in all of our videos, but the moments that make you say, 'Oh yes!' Things like cheese pulls and drizzles and butter melts and things like that."

Tasty has mastered the art of the zoomed-in, tantalizing close-up shot. But aside from making viewers drool, their goal is to make cooking more accessible, easy and fun for the amateur home chef.

"I never went to culinary school," Traeger says. "I’ve just had a love of cooking, and I think it’s really important for people to be comfortable in the kitchen and confident in their skills, no matter where they are on their cooking level."

And that’s a big appeal — approachability. Most of Tasty’s producers aren’t professional chefs, so their videos focus on step-by-step instructions with clear visual cues. No gorgeous TV kitchens, no distracting personalities. Just two hands that show you exactly what you need to do.

Traeger tops off her potatoes with a generous layer of bacon bits and shredded cheddar cheese before popping them into the oven.

"You see I've kinda dropped some cheese on the side, because at the end of the day, this is about cooking at home. And people spill," Traeger says.

Tasty’s videos are circulated mostly via Facebook, with a main page anchoring nine spin offs like Tasty Japan, Bien Tasty, Tasty Vegetarian and Tasty Junior, for the kids. The studio also gave birth to Nifty and Goodful, and last year they created a Tasty 101 series to walk through more difficult kitchen concepts and recipes.

Shooting stations at BuzzFeed's Tasty headquarters in Hollywood, California.
Shooting stations at BuzzFeed's Tasty headquarters in Hollywood, California.
Macey J. Foronda and Jon Premosch for BuzzFeed

Today, producers Alexis deBoschnek and Jody Tixier are filming how to make a croquembouche. Essentially, a tower of cream puffs glued together with caramel.

DeBoschnek sets down a tray of 100 cream puffs at one of the shooting stations, this one named "Julia Child" for inspiration. But celebrities like Martha Stewart, Wolfgang puck and even Katy Perry have stopped by to show off their home recipes.

One by one, she dips each cream puff into the caramel and arranges them into a spiral tower. And finally, after the last cream puff, the team yells an ecstatic, "Woohoo!"

https://youtu.be/d5nCbSNS9mA

That was deBoschnek's 500th cream puff of the week. But Tasty’s recipes aren’t always so self-indulgent. In anticipation of New Year’s resolutions, they’ve also brainstormed healthier alternatives, like donuts made with bananas and applesauce as opposed to refined sugar.

But what makes Tasty so successful?

"I think that one thing that we've tried to do...we try to make every recipe something that would be sharable with your friends and family," says Claire King, head of culinary at Tasty. "So it’s kind of this balance between accessibility and then sharability as well, so we really want to make sure that...this recipe is reminding you of someone."

Like tagging the steak-lover in your life, or the best friend who's obsessed with avocados.

Now back to the scalloped potatoes, where Traeger has just pulled them out of the oven for the infamous bite shot.

The final bite shot for the loaded baked potatoes made by Tasty producer Alix Traeger.
The final bite shot for the loaded baked potatoes made by Tasty producer Alix Traeger.
Courtesy of BuzzFeed's Tasty

"Okay so, this is always a little nerve racking because...when you get to the end it's like, do or die!"

She grabs a metal ladle and dives into the potatoes. After multiple attempts, the perfect bite shot is successfully lifted up, and of course — goes right into her mouth.

"Oh my gosh. That's really good."

In the words of Chef Gusteau from Ratatouille: "What do I always say? Anyone can cook!"



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