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 WithBabish: 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.”
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.”