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 creator has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments here.
At Guga‘s house, butter makes everything better. Steak, pork, chicken…even python.
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If you’ve seen older videos from Guga’s flagship channel Guga Foods and Sous Vide Everything, you might be surprised to find that on top of making those videos, he’s now trying stuff like dry-aging python, experimenting to find the best ice cream combo, boiling chicken in Coke, making tiger skin eggs, and dipping steak in Kraft mac and cheese powder. (Okay, that last one might not be too surprising, considering his overall enthusiasm for steak.)
Expanding to new meats and new methods is all part of the philosophy behind his third channel, which is simply called Guga.
That’s the channel we’re featuring today, because though Guga–aka Gustavo Tosta–is already a YouTube Millionaire on his other two channels, becoming a millionaire on Guga was something different. For one, it was way faster. And for another, Guga is the channel where he’s producing content that pushes the boundaries: his own (in terms of food experimentation), his team’s (in terms of learning to make engaging short-form content), and his audience’s (to see if they’ll come along for the ride).
Check out our chat with him below.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tubefilter: Super excited to get to talk to you! I’ve been watching your stuff for a really long time. Let’s just start with some background. For readers who maybe don’t know you, can you tell me about you and how you got started on YouTube?
Gustavo Tosta: I started on YouTube between 10 to 8 years ago, I’m not quite sure. The reason I started YouTube was because I wanted to save money on food. Food gets quite expensive. I used to have a web design agency and I used to treat my guys for food all the time. We love to go to Brazilian steakhouse restaurants, and the price can be quite expensive, especially if you’re paying the bill for four, five, six, seven people. We’d do it all the time. We’re talking about three times a week and so forth. You can just add that up and then suddenly I said, “You know what? I could cook this in the office to try to save some money.”
I started doing that and I started using sous vide, and then all of a sudden I told my cousin to just grab the phone and record for me to see what happens. We posted that first video, got a lot of views and I was like, “Wait, there’s something there, there’s interest there. People want to know more about sous vide and how to cook meat and so forth.” That’s how we started.
Tubefilter: Very cool. What made you decide to keep going after that first video?
Gustavo Tosta: Definitely the encouragement by the audience. If I would’ve posted the video, because I wasn’t expecting anything, and there was no views and there were no requests for a second video, I wouldn’t have done it. Since they requested me, “Oh, can you try to cook something else? Can you do an experiment if you should use butter or no butter on a sous vide bag?” and steak and so forth, I said, “Wow, I can’t believe people are actually watching.” They started asking requests, and that’s what made me keep going.
Tubefilter: Tell me a little bit about the progression of channels, because you went from one to three. What made you start your second, what made you start the most recent one? What’s the philosophy behind each channel?
Gustavo Tosta: If you go back and track, originally I started with my main channel, which is Guga Foods, but I just posted a video there, didn’t pay much attention, was like, “Whatever.” Then I stopped completely, nothing. Then I started Sous Vide Everything and Sous Vide Everything really kicked off just because of the audience and the interest on sous vide cooking with meat. That was doing fantastic.
Then after, I believe, I got over 100,000 subscribers on Sous Vide, my nephew wanted to join in, my nephew Angel, but Sous Vide I cook inside of my office for my guys over there. I didn’t really cook anything in my house for my nephew, so I said, “You know what? I’m going to start cooking like I normally cook at home on the grill and stuff.”
So for Guga Foods–it was originally called Easy Foods, by the way. If you look back at the very first beginning videos, it’s called Easy Foods. Anyway, then my nephew Angel, I said, “If you want to be a part of it, we can make videos for this channel, Guga Foods, and see what happens.” We started posting experiments there and then that channel got way bigger than I ever expected, because it was just something for me to do with my nephew at home and no big deal. That channel really kicked off and surpassed Sous Vide. It’s because Guga Foods is more like grilling and barbecue, and sous vide is a very specific niche. It’s limited of the audience. Not everybody has a sous vide machine, but everyone has a grill, or not even a grill, just a stove or so forth, so there’s a lot of different things you could cook with that.
Then the third channel now, YouTube started asking to create Shorts, and from advice from many different sources, I decided not to put Shorts on my main channels, not on Sous Vide Everything or not on Guga Foods. I said, “You know what? Let’s create a Shorts channel.”
I have so many other ideas and I really want to create different things, but those videos that I want to create will not fit either on my Guga Foods channel or my Sous Vide channel, such as being on camera with no voiceover, or more general reaction without extremely fully edited videos. I also want to do a podcast and so forth. There’s no way that I can put those things on my main channels. Creating a brand-new channel was the perfect thing that would allow me to do everything I wanted to do additionally from the two other channels. Luckily, my audience liked it. That’s how grew like this. It’s the quickest growth I’ve ever had.
Tubefilter: When did you start and how quick has the growth been?
Gustavo Tosta: Man, I have to go back and check, for sure, because I don’t want to give you wrong information, but if I’m not mistaken, I think the first video I posted, it hasn’t even been a year yet. I think we got like 100,000 subscribers within two months. One to two months, I want to say. I don’t remember exactly, it was like this [holding his hand out flat]. Then from 100,000 subscribers to a million. It was truly unexpected.
I don’t know the exact amount and dates, I would have to go back and check it, but it just kicked off completely. That channel, because it’s the Shorts channel, surpasses all my other channels in views because it’s so popular now, the Shorts format. The fact that it took me a very long time on Sous Vide Everything and Guga Foods to reach a million subscribers, this channel was almost instantaneous. It was crazy.
Tubefilter: Do you feel like you’re seeing crossover from viewers on that channel coming to your other channels? Do you feel like it’s introducing new people to your other content?
Gustavo Tosta: 100%, because my main audience in my other two channels are U.S., but on the Guga channel, it’s all over the place.
Tubefilter: That’s interesting.
Gustavo Tosta: It’s not just U.S. whatsoever, it’s scattered all over. I don’t know the exact statistics or analytics, but there is obviously some crossover, especially when the channel was first launched, because I promoted this new channel on the other two channels. There was definitely crossover in the beginning, but after that, there’s no crossover [from me] whatsoever because I don’t even promote videos from that channel on my other channels. It just started growing by itself.
Tubefilter: I wanted to ask, so clearly you do a lot of things that I don’t see other culinary YouTubers do as much. You do a lot of sous vide, obviously, you do a lot of extreme dry aging, a lot of butter-poaching. I just wanted to ask what draws you to these more niche or more unusual methods of cooking?
Gustavo Tosta: I’m very curious by nature. I want to speculate with my curiosity. Unlike professional chefs, they have their reputations and they can’t try to experiment with new things because they have a standard that they must follow. They have to have successes every single time they cook something if they’re presenting to someone that are eating on their restaurant. Me, on the other hand, I don’t have to have success, but I do have a curiosity.
I know you’re not supposed to put Nutella on a steak. It doesn’t make sense, but I want to know why. Why doesn’t it make sense? Even though it doesn’t sound right, it’s sweet, it’s whatever, why can’t you do it? I tried and it turns out you can’t do it. [laughs] It tastes terrible. I learned a lot of things when I did that experiment. I learned that sugar and meat don’t get along. They’re not friends. It produces an insane amount of mold that shouldn’t be used whenever you’re dry aging anything because the sugars and the bacterias from the meat reacts in a certain way that they don’t get along.
Obviously, in the end, the steak didn’t taste good, but that video went viral. Gordon Ramsay reacted to it. So many other YouTubers reacted to it. In the end, it was just literally an experiment to answer my curiosity. Also, my audience request, they ask me for crazy stuff. Some of them are ridiculous, but some of them are really, really interesting to see what would happen. I would have never thought to put powder milk on a steak to see if that would turn out great. It doesn’t sound right when you think about it, but if you look the science behind browning meat and creating Maillard reaction and so forth– and one of the greatest things that we have is butter.
What we like about butter is, when it becomes brown and it combines with the steak so you have the brown butter solids that get stuck to the steak, that’s why you baste the steak. You baste the steak until it becomes nice golden brown and those brown butter solids stick to the stake, and it creates an incredible flavor. That’s why most chefs baste steaks with butter. Powder milk has the same properties, and that’s the reason why I wanted to try it. It turned out it’s an amazing experiment. No one has ever done that before. I was the very first YouTuber that did that, or social media guy, call it whatever you want.
I did it, that video went viral. Then after I made that video, every single YouTuber, TikToker you can think of was doing the same experiment to find out if it was actually good. It turned out everyone had the same result as I did. It’s a great thing to do.
Tubefilter: That’s very funny that you mentioned these specific types of videos, because I just this morning watched your video about sous vide steak in champagne.
Gustavo Tosta: Oh, yes.
Tubefilter: I cook a lot, and I was like, “That could be interesting.” You have things like beer battering, and you have things like whiskey and bourbon, all those flavors go really well with steak. I was intrigued, but also, I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on champagne to figure out whether it’s doable.
Gustavo Tosta: Not only that, but whether it’s good, it’s worth your time, but if it’s shit–Sorry, my language– [laughs]
Tubefilter: No, no, please.
Gustavo Tosta: If it’s bad, then you don’t want to do it, but how are you going to know if it’s bad or good? I try to help people save the money and I’ll do the experiment. If it’s bad, we’ll let you know. If it’s good, we’ll let you know, too.
Tubefilter: Very appreciated.
Gustavo Tosta: I’m not a big fan of champagne, but a lot of people enjoy it, and I want to find out how it’s going to taste with steaks. Turned out making compound butter is great. Another thing that I never expected was, I don’t quite remember why, but I think it started out as a joke or something, putting the Kraft mac and cheese powder on a steak. I did on chicken, too, and it turned out fantastic.
I don’t remember exactly why we did it, if it was one of my audience’s requests or if it was our idea that just came up, but we did it. I was doing this, putting Kraft mac and cheese powder on a steak, and I was like, “Oh my god, you’re such an idiot. Why are you doing that?” You know what I mean? Like, “You’re so stupid.” Then it turned out fantastic. It turned not okay, it wasn’t okay, it was great. It was amazing. I was like, “Okay, you see, that’s the reason why we can’t judge.” We can’t judge to see if it’s going to be bad and good just because of what other people tell you to do and it doesn’t go right.
I did that video first. Every other YouTuber, as soon as it went live, did that video as well and they all had the same experience. We find new things by trying things that haven’t been tried before. Because I’m not a professional chef, I don’t have any fear. I don’t care if it’s going to turn out good or bad. I’m just going to let my audience know it’s going to be great or it’s going to be terrible. Regardless of what it is, we’re going to learn something and we’re going to do it anyway.
Tubefilter: You also have a new podcast, right?
Gustavo Tosta: I have a lot of collaborations with YouTubers that want to start up or YouTubers who have been around for a long time. I’m friends with everyone. They all come here, we do collaborations and stuff. On the back, as you can see over there [points behind him] we have the full podcast studio. As soon as we’re done with the video, we’re immediately going to interview everyone and ask them to make the podcast.
However, that’s not what the podcast is about. The podcast is about any human being who is interesting, and asking questions about them. We’re going to be making it happen. I’m super excited about it. We already have about, I want to say, seven or eight episodes ready to go. We posted a quick pilot on the Guga channel. Everything will go on the Guga channel as well, but it will be out to our podcast platforms. The whole team is super excited about that.
Tubefilter: Are there any other solo projects you want to talk about or anything else that we should cover?
Gustavo Tosta: Oh, yes, my book. Everything I’ve learned throughout the years of doing crazy experiments and things like that, it was important for me to document it. On a YouTube video, you can only say so much and make it interesting. If I go in depth of why certain things are working and certain things are not working, it’s going to make the video boring. It makes it too boring. I can only cover so much. What the book allowed me to do is to really try to explain everything that I’ve learned, why does it work, and why does it make sense to put crazy stuff on stakes and stuff like that, and why it doesn’t.
Writing that book was one of the hardest thing I’ve ever done because I really had to not only rethink my experiments and redo my experiments, but see why it’s happening, and most importantly, be able to put in writing how my brain works so that people can understand what worked and what didn’t work. The book’s coming up. We’re going to do a big book tour this year and try to meet as many people as possible. That’s all very exciting.
Tubefilter: That’s very cool. Congratulations.
Gustavo Tosta: Thank you. It was a lot of work.
Tubefilter: I imagine, yes. Very exciting, though. Do you have any other projects or plans or goals for this year that we should know about?
Gustavo Tosta: Yes. The Guga channel, we’re really spending a lot of time and effort on that channel specifically. We want it to grow because we like to call that “the fun channel.” No video is the same. Every video that is posted is going to be something different, where we’re going to be either traveling, or have a podcast coming, or doing food-related content, or a recipe. It’s something where the audience will never know what will come out next. We’re super excited about that. On the other two channels, we have a format, we have a method, they know what to expect, but this one here, they really have no idea what to expect anytime. We’re doing some crazy stuff on that channel.
Tubefilter: Yes, I got to say, I was not expecting to open my YouTube app and see you cooking an entire python.
Gustavo Tosta: I know, right?
Tubefilter: That was interesting. It was an interesting experience.
Gustavo Tosta: Trust me, it was an interesting experiment for me too.
Tubefilter: Yes. Did you end up liking it?
Gustavo Tosta: No, we didn’t like it! No!
Tubefilter: I just wasn’t sure if there was any way that off camera if you ended up enjoying it at all.
Gustavo Tosta: No. To be fair, I really tried to make it taste good and get my guys to eat it, but it was edible in the end because we made it like chicken nuggets. When you bread something and you deep fry it and you add an incredible sauce to it…
Tubefilter: It’s going to taste good.
Gustavo Tosta: It tasted good. Even off camera, my guys, I didn’t even tell them, some of my editors, what it was, and they tried it like, “Oh, this tastes like alligator.” It’s edible, but it’s not something we’re going to go out of our way, like, “Oh, forget chicken nuggets, let’s just eat python.” You know what I mean? That’s not going to happen, but it’s fine to try those kinds of things to see what happens, especially if someone’s never tried it before. It was edible. Let’s just say it was edible.
Tubefilter: I feel like “it’s edible” is such an ominous judgment.
Gustavo Tosta: I know, right?
Tubefilter: Technically you can eat it.
Gustavo Tosta: Trust me, some things are not edible.