Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments of YouTube Millionaires here.
Great food doesn’t have to be complex, and as it turns out, the same could be said about great food videos.
For more than a decade, John Mitzewitch, known to his fans as Chef John, has shared some of his favorite dishes on YouTube, and his strategy has rarely changed. Whether he’s making shakshouka or shrimp étouffée, he combines a simple voiceover narration with a single-camera setup that highlights his technique in the kitchen. Add in a dash of dry wit and you have the recipe for a channel that has now exceeded two million subscribers and is still going strong more than 10 years after its inception. To celebrate his latest achievement, Mitzewich — who is currently partnered with Allrecipes for his Food Wishes content — answered a few of our questions.
Tubefilter: How does it feel to have more than two million subscribers on your channel? What do you have to say to your fans?
John Mitzewich: It’s very hard to believe. I couldn’t believe that even 10,000 people subscribed, so this is nuts. To the fans I say, thank you very, very much for all the love and support. Also, is it possible for all two million of you to get together, and on the same day, send me one dollar? Come on, it’s just one dollar! I promise I won’t retire. Okay, I can’t actually promise that.
TF: How did you get into YouTube, and what made you decide to launch your channel?
JM: I was a culinary instructor when YouTube was born, and I saw an opportunity to teach via this new medium. My students would be watching videos in class instead of listening to me, and that’s when the light bulb went off. By the way, I didn’t blame them.
TF: What do you think Food Wishes brings to the table that sets it apart from other cooking channels?
JM: Me. That’s it. I don’t do anything different, or better than anyone else. In fact, I generally do it worse, but for whatever reason people connect with the delivery. I used to think it was because I didn’t appear in the videos, and the focus was on the food, but now there are hundreds of channels that use that same format, so, like I said, it must be me.
TF: Have you ever tried to cook a recipe that didn’t work out for one reason or another? Any interesting stories in that regard?
JM: All the time, and I usually post them anyway. For an example, check out my cauliflower fries video. Just don’t make them.
TF: What advice would you give to a young viewer who is looking to get into cooking but may be intimidated by the kitchen?
JM: My first piece of advice would be, don’t be intimidated by a kitchen. That where the food is. It’s fine. Also, to take the edge off, there are tons of videos you can watch before trying your hand. Another great tip is to not care too much how it comes out. You don’t want to be stressed and anxious when you cook. Food can sense fear.
TF: I have to ask – is the voice you use in your videos your natural speaking voice? How do you feel about the amount of attention your “upward inflections at the end of sentences” seem to receive from viewers?
JM: Of course it’s not my natural speaking voice, because I’m doing a voiceover, which is not a natural speaking thing. This is why people who do commercials don’t sound like normal people. Same for rappers. Having said that, I do not try to speak a certain way on purpose. There is no secret strategy. I just turn on the mic, and start talking, or “spitting,” as us rappers call it.
The unusual cadence is due to the fact that I can only record a few words at a time without messing up, which means I record each statement multiple times, and then pick out the best sounding one. Once all these non-sequential clips are edited together, you get what you hear in the finished video. It’s like that South Park episode they did when “Chef” left the show, and they just pieced together an entire episode with old sound clips.
The good news is the vast majority of listeners get used to it very quickly, and it becomes enjoyable, and literally addictive. So, that really is the secret sauce. By the way, if you listen, there are just as many down-speaks, as up-speaks. Anyway, since it got me two million subscribers, even if I could change it, which I can’t, I probably wouldn’t.
TF: On a similar note, you’ve been on YouTube for a while now. What’s one change you’d like to see the site make?
JM: One change would be to stop making changes. Please pick an interface, and stick with it forever. Also, some sort of retirement plan for old content creators would be cool.
TF: What’s next for your channel? Any fun plans?
JM: I honestly have no idea. Just much more of the same. I never make plans, or set goals, which makes it a lot easier to have fun.