Alton Brown, Babish & Bon Appetit: Self-Isolation Never Tasted So Good

There's never been a better time for comfort food, especially from the likes of the Bon Appetit test kitchen, Binging With Babish, and Alton Brown. And each of them have responded to the call with smart and responsible ways to practice social distancing and self-isolation – and still get your chef on.

YouTube, along with so many other streaming networks, have been our collective saviors during "The Great Shut In of 2020." But I've especially found myself drawn to cooking videos during this time, as Claire Saffitz has become my personal power animal and inspiration to get through this.

Cue all of them to start creating special content about being shut in and doing cooking. Let's start with Bon Appetit and Claire Saffitz:

Yes, they're all cooking from home, some with differing results. It's fun to see people shut in with their kids, their pets, or their parents. Especially those with their parents and their moms are talking about cooking for them. So adorable.

"I feel like I'm uniquely suited to self-isolate because I like to spend time alone at home. But I have missed the Test Kitchen crew so much, and in particular the crew of Gourmet Makes. So we have everyone right below my iPhone– which I'm shooting on–on my laptop, we have the whole crew here on a Zoom meeting. It's so much fun."

– Claire Saffitz

And yes, we indeed see the entire Bon Appetit Kitchen team in a giant Zoom meeting. They're just like us!

alton brown

There's something about these folks that is so comforting at this time. I spent an hour watching Carla and Molly try to make the perfect cheese from scratch for pizza, including a trip to Italy, and it was magic.

But it all comes back to Claire. The methodical and fun ways she approaches problems like "How would I make Twizzlers from scratch?" is so joyous, as are her regular collaborations with Brad Leone. There is a strange alchemy that exists in the chemistry between these two. They're the Bon Appetit odd couple to be sure, but they're just a hoot to watch.

Especially when they fail. And they fail a lot. The best part of their attempts are their failures, and then they learn and come back from them. It's comforting, especially as a lot of us are feeling anxious and maybe wondering about trying new things out in the kitchen (PS- it's a marvelous time to do that!)

And to help with that, who else would we turn to but the grand-nerd-daddy of all, Mr. Alton Brown. AB has taken to his YouTube channel to deliver on new mini-sodes of Good Eats just when we need them. Taking off of his previous "Pantry Raid" episodes, he is telling us not only how to make the best popcorn for all that tv and movie binging we're doing, but also the perfect cocktail– a smoky tequila sour. Because we probably all need that right now. He also offered a two minute "hot saltine hack" for all of you wondering what Alton Brown would do with those crackers in your pantry.

Not to be outdone, Andrew Rea has brought new episodes of Binging With Babish to remind us of all the things we can make even if we're socially distancing. For the uninitiated, the basic idea of the show is Andrew (nee Babish– a name he stole from Oliver Platt's character on The West Wing) recreates the foods from the movies and television we love. He also has a Basics With Babish series where he just does tutorials of, errr… the basics.

While his episodes teaching us how to make RamDom from Parasite or the egg sandwich from Birds of Prey technically came out before the pandemic spread, so many of us are now catching up with these films that they now make the perfect fodder for us to try to make these at home and they make great use of pantry and fridge basics like ramen, eggs, and cheese. Grab the ingredients on your next trip to the store and try them! But the real treat here, and one where Rea mentions mandatory social distancing, is the recreation of the pizza from "Nepenthe," the sixth episode of Picard.

All of this adds up to "Yum!" as well as more instances of folks being responsible with their content. I wish you all good eats, and wonderful binging of chef content on YouTube.

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About Andy Wilson

A mild mannered digital strategist working for an environmental nonprofit in Austin, TX roaming the interwebs fighting his nemeses by day, and by night consuming all manner of media. You can find him either on his couch or at the nearest Alamo Drafthouse catching the latest. Don't follow him on Twitter @CitizenAndy.
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