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The world’s fastest cooking courses: how online tutorials have changed the way we cook

schedule 25th September 2017 by Virtual College in Food and Drink

Woman cooking with iPad

Food-related digital content is big business these days. Students and millennials in particular are hungry for food content, regularly devouring short, concise cookery videos that inspire, educate and entertain. These 18-34yr olds are now relying on their mobile devices at every stage of the cooking process — from initially deciding what to make, to learning how to set up and prepare their kitchen, to food hygiene tips and finally cooking their recipe.

And it’s not just the younger generations either. Those who learned to cook from books are increasingly turning their backs on more traditional methods of learning, and are consuming quick, easily digestible content that helps them make great tasting - and great looking - plates of food quickly.

Social signalling

Cooking is no longer seen as a chore but as an experience, and in many ways a social indicator. In a world where presentation is key and Instagram rules, students and millennials alike share a growing enthusiasm for the cooking process itself – almost overtaking the process of actually eating - but also the presenting of their ability. Searching for food-related hashtags will bring up reams of photos of dishes users have made, and many of these will be in response to recipes and instructional content. Users are eager to show what they can do - not just cook and eat great food.

YouTube was the first company to begin fuelling this new foodie fan culture; giving content creators the opportunity to produce videos which could be consumed in short, digestible chunks. The videos are simple, presented clearly and to the point, allowing the viewer to follow along either leisurely or quickly – depending on personal preference and level of expertise. The ability to pause and rewind certain stages of the cooking process allows the viewer to set their own pace and go at their own speed, effectively having an entire demonstration available on demand right at their fingertips. It’s no wonder that traditional TV shows and books are lagging behind.

Perfect timing

With the average length of a Youtube video being just 4 minutes and 20 seconds, any given YouTuber can easily produce multiple videos a day. In comparison, a TV chef and their entire team can realistically only manage one or two. While TV cookery shows are still produced in the traditional format – a complex combination of multiple camera men, presenters and sound engineers – amateur ‘how-to’ type videos can be quickly produced with one camera, with one set of hands and are often uploaded to YouTube on the very same day.

Time lapse cooking videos in particular have become a popular trend – showcasing quick, easy recipes often with an emphasis on visually appealing food rather than food that is healthy and nutritious. This content is particularly helpful in that it shows the viewer exactly what the consistency, colour and texture of each dish is supposed to look like at each stage. This kind of content is unavoidable on social media, and many brands are investing in advertising to ensure that these recipes - and the brands and products they subtly promote - are widely seen.

Out with the old

Traditional food formats such as TV shows and cookery books are no longer the norm. While cookery books were once the go-to place for recipes and inspiration, these days we head straight to the internet. Often, a Youtube video will be the first result that comes up in a Google search for a particular recipe – far outranking any written recipe online about the same topic or dish. Another notable change to the cookery world is the fact that celebrity chefs no longer carry as much weight as they once did. Professional, qualified chefs with household names and years of experience behind them were once popular search terms in their own right. In their place, lesser known social media influencers have taken over. Now, personality rules over notoriety.

The likes of Salt Bae - real name Nusret Gökçe is the perfect example. The Turkish restaurateur and butcher rose to fame in 2017 after videos of him went viral, in which he prepared meat in a flamboyant and entertaining manner. Many thousands of people have attempted to replicate his style, and he’s now an internet sensation. He’s just one of many influencers that younger people in particular are looking to imitate and be inspired by, and movements such as Veganuary 2019 have also seen major social activity.

Bringing devices into the kitchen

Nobody prints out recipes anymore; mobile devices and tablets are fast becoming kitchen staples, and this is true for many age groups. Research by Google found that the phrase "how to cook…" remains one of the ten most popular how-to searches on YouTube. 2017 saw a rising demand for kitchen gadgets, such as iPad stands and tripods, specifically targeted at amateur chefs and enthusiastic foodies who watch step-by-step video demonstrations regularly. Research shows that more millennials are subscribed to YouTube food channels than ever before, returning to their favourite channels again and again – back in 2015 - Google found that 75% of this viewership came directly from mobile devices.

Social media as a marketing tool

The takeaway then, is that food businesses need to take note of these trends. There’s no better way of pushing a new product than through social media, and simple advertising is no longer good enough. Content, whether advertorial or not, has to be engaging, and food brands should look to this trend of easily digestible, easily replicable recipes in order to drive business and build awareness of the brand.


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