Food enthusiasts around the globe are sharpening their skills in the kitchen every day, thanks to Twitch. Through live streaming, people of all ages can chat with experienced chefs from their phone or computer in real time as they prepare a meal. In the past year, the “Food and Drink” category on Twitch has seen the number of broadcasters increase by 53%, with nearly 85% more hours of content watched worldwide.
Take it from Seattle-based streamer Graham, who has hosted his own live cooking show on Twitch titled, “Tabetai Cooking,” for three years. What started as an experiment in learning traditional Japanese cooking methods has grown into a multi-camera cooking program that he says attracts an intergenerational community of like-minded foodies.
“We have viewers who are 13 just hoping to go to culinary school someday all the way up to people who are 60 and 70 who just enjoy finding new recipes and have discovered that the internet can be used to help nourish their families a little bit,” he said. “It’s been really cool to see that full spectrum of people enjoying the content.”
Graham, who runs his stream with his wife as producer, says the name of his channel, “Tabetai Cooking,” encompasses the vision he had to bring people together on common ground with his food.
“The word ‘tabetai’ literally means ‘want to eat,’” he said. “You can use it to say you want something to eat, there’s something specific you want to eat; but really, it just means you’re hungry. For our community, the way I envision that growing is that we’re hungry for knowledge, hungry for hospitality, hungry for sometimes food. And I thought that was the perfect word to introduce to people who may not have heard it before. Years later, here we are, and I have a pretty wide repertoire of recipes under my belt. But I felt that was a good way to honor where it all started.”
This live streaming veteran says a big benefit for the audience of cooking channels on Twitch is the ability to form a community and make new relationships with people from different backgrounds.
“Early on, we decided to keep our channel family-friendly with the goal that nobody feels excluded,” Graham said. “Even if someone arrives that may not be from a demographic I’d expect, we are always sure to roll out the red carpet. I pride myself on the ability to read every line of chat while I’m cooking. Early on, that was pivotal in developing relationships with my viewers and who they are. At least 20% of the people who watch my stream I’m on a first-name basis with now, because they’ve been visiting for over a year; and it’s unnatural to not know anything about each other after that long.”
While walking us through a live demonstration on how to make gyoza, Graham said his best advice with tackling new challenges in the kitchen is to be bold.
“The biggest thing is just to do it,” Graham explained. “It’s better to be brave than perfect. In the context of what we do, that would mean even if you aren’t entirely ready you just have to do it. You’ve just got to put yourself out there and take the risk sometimes.”