It was just a couple of years ago that Andrew Rea spent day after laborious day, toiling away at his day job, punching the clock, waiting for the hours to go by. At the end of the day, he would return home and pursue his true passion of combining film and food into a popular web series.

Now, more than three years later, the Youtube phenomenon, otherwise known as Oliver Babish of the channel, “Binging with Babish,” combines his love of film and television with his passion for instruction and experimenting in the kitchen to recreate iconic dishes from pop-culture television and movies. The videos almost instantly go viral. Thousands of people come out to line up to meet him, and his dominant hand cramps from the sheer number of books he signs. And soon, he’ll be at SECCA in Winston-Salem.

Rea’s Youtube
channel has more than 240 videos and 5 million subscribers and, now, he’s released
a second cookbook. Rea’s written 100 of his show’s recipes down in Binging
With
Babish: 100 Recipes Created From Your Favorite Movies and TV Shows,
a follow-up to Eat What You Watch: A Cookbook for Movie Lovers, which contained
40 recipes featured in film and was released in 2017.

Rea’s visit
to the Triad will be the fourth stop on the second leg of his 16-city book
tour.

On his show,
he’s created versions of the Krabby Patty from “SpongeBob SquarePants,” the Traeger
Turkey Burger from “Parks And Rec” and even the maple syrup-laced dessert
spaghetti from Elf. Rea’s favorite recipe he’s done is the Every Meat
Burrito stuffed with 27  different exotic
meats ranging from rattlesnake to caribou, kangaroo and bacon, from the animated
kids show “The Regular Show”. Since 2016, Rea has upgraded his own viewership
to include a web series, “Basics With Babish.”

Rea got famous by creating foods from popular TV shows and movies like the Krabby Patty from “Spongebob Squarepants.” (courtesy photo)

Viewers are
treated to themed music, a clip of the show or movie as it pertains to the
recipe of the day and a prolonged look at Rea’s apron-clad torso, lightly
tattooed arms and sometime-manicured hands. His resonant, melodic voice bounces
along as he narrates the recipe, punctuated with jokes and timely commentary
about his techniques and occasional mishaps on-screen. The production quality
and lighting of each video is one of high caliber, as Rea has a BA in Film
Studies from Hofstra University. As a former video-effects specialist for a
large corporation before he quit his job to run BWB full-time, Rea has managed
to take obscure references and built them into his brand.

I spoke with
Babish himself for a phone interview and here are some of the highlights:

On naming his show

“My Reddit
handle was Oliver Babish [portrayed by actor by Oliver Platt], one of the most obscure
characters on ‘The West Wing.’ He only appeared in eight episodes. Initially I
did it as a joke and now it’s my whole brand. There are so many people who come
up to me and really think my real name is Oliver Babish. It’s hilarious.”

On his
notoriety

“There are
so many people out there who work their asses off and for the longest time I
felt like an imposter. Last year was the first time I felt like I knew what I
was doing and that I was good at it. I’m grateful and thankful for it all.”

On
producing high quality videos for his show

“It takes
about 20 to 60 hours to produce one episode. There’s no way I could do more
than one video in a day. It’s the reason why I barely post once a week.”

On
inspiration for cooking videos

“I have to
admit, I’ll make things I never would have heard of if it weren’t for the fans.
Chasing that steady stream of viewership, fans would throw out the craziest
things and I would go ahead and make them.”

On new
projects for the future

“Between ‘Basics’
and ‘Being Babish,’ I’m working on a third book, a new show, a cookware line, opening
up a brewery in Brooklyn. It will allow people to step inside a living,
breathing episode of my show, bringing the internet to life.”

Rea will be in conversation with Winston-Salem Journal Food Editor Michael Hastings at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) on January 27. Tickets are sold out, but you can get on the waiting list for the event. Copies of Rea’s book are also available for purchase online.

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