Gourmet Makes
It takes a lot of experimentation to make these nostalgic snacks from scratch without all the additives. (Illustration by Lily Qian, Parsons, The New School)

Bon Appétit’s ‘Gourmet Makes’ Videos are Delicious Science Experiments

In the series, pastry chef Claire Saffitz walks viewers through the process of turning favorite childhood snacks into gourmet treats.

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Gourmet Makes

In the series, pastry chef Claire Saffitz walks viewers through the process of turning favorite childhood snacks into gourmet treats.

Have you ever wondered what goes into making your favorite childhood snacks? Well, pastry chef and Senior Food Editor Claire Saffitz from Bon Appétit Test Kitchen explores this very mystery. Whether it’s Oreos, Twinkies or Doritos, Saffitz recreates an improved, gourmet version of these iconic dishes. She showcases her creation on Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel in the series titled “Gourmet Makes.” In these videos, Saffitz uses her skill in the culinary arts to bake with a scientific approach and design a gourmet recipe for these yummy, mass-produced treats.

“Gourmet Makes” is sort of a problem-solving series on YouTube that explores how iconic snacks can be made from scratch. Saffitz, the talented chef and host for this show, breaks down the baking process from start to finish. As noted within the each episode’s title, Saffitz’s goal is simply to attempt to replicate these foods, but she tries to perfect the original recipe without using any artificial ingredients.

 

“Gourmet Makes” also inevitably portrays the reality and pressure being in the culinary profession, making these videos, and Saffitz herself, a source of a relatable genre of entertainment.

The videos start off with the YouTube chef introducing and researching the product. She takes time to study the food and its ingredients listed on the packaging. She first conducts an initial taste-tests of the snack, describing its visuals, texture, taste and smell in detail. Often times, she consults some of her colleagues in the kitchen to get another perspective on how she could approach making the new, gourmet version of the snack.

Saffitz says that her favorite part in the research stage is reading out all the ingredients on the packaging. However, she doesn’t utilize all listed ingredients and eliminates the food coloring and artificial preservatives. That’s the gist behind making it gourmet. Although the foods Saffitz remakes are not exact replicas of the originals, they are better and healthier versions.

Her attention to detail before the actual cooking process is one of the most informative and educational aspects of the video. All of these techniques together teach viewers important facts about the snacks they otherwise might never have known.

After the extensive research, the experimentations finally begin. Similar to any scientific experiments, the “Gourmet Makes” host conducts different tests, playing with the variables, to find the perfect ratio of ingredients that most closely embodies the desired result. This is where her culinary creativity comes into play. For example, in the instant ramen episode, Saffitz transforms from a chef into a DIY master. She cuts up backing racks and threads cooked noodles between the slats in order to get that tradition ramen noodle curl.

The experimentation portion of the video displays numerous trials and errors before Saffitz finally perfects her recreation. At this stage, the videos also include occasions where she experiences many of her emotional breakdowns, and I think that’s part of the beauty of these videos.

By incorporating raw emotion into the narrative, these videos are grounded in a sense of reality. These unfiltered moments when Saffitz shows her frustration from failures but continues with persistence reveals the realistic path to reaching a goal. The pastry chef’s determination and perseverance makes the conclusion of each video feel like a success no matter the outcome.

At the end of each episode, Saffitz gives her viewer a full recipe and goes through step-by-step of how she was able to recreate the gourmet version of each snack.

“Gourmet Makes” is not meant to be an at-home recipe video series, teaching the audience how to make these iconic snacks. It is a program purely for entertainment, showing a professional chef attempting to figure out how snacks can be made in a kitchen and not in a laboratory. Not everyone has a dehydrator machine lying around in their kitchen at home.

Nonetheless, the series is still garners a massive number of views upon each episode’s release because of how appealing Saffitz is as both a host and a chef. And her witchcraft-like culinary skills inevitably continue to astound returning viewers.

Her meticulous attention to details attracts the audience’s attention and excitement as she masters each challenge. Saffitz’s persistent personality is also inspiring, as she is often faced with discouraging setbacks along the way.

Watching Saffitz feeling frustrated and defeated when confronted by difficulties but ultimately overcoming them is what makes these videos and herself relatable to viewers. The audience enjoys reality rather than something scripted. Her frustrations and challenges are real but so are her successes at the end. The emotions offer a genuine connection, and that is the main message of “Gourmet Makes” — that everyone should be proud even if the conclusion is not perfect.

“Gourmet Makes” portrays Saffitz unlike any other chefs on YouTube. Her videos unapologetically show the world that failures are inevitable. People are so used to hiding their failures and only showing the perfections. This causes people to sometimes forget that behind every achievement, there are numerous trials and errors. By watching Saffitz engage in one challenge after another, her determination and motivation remind us of the hard work that comes with achievements and success. Saffitz might be a wizard in the kitchen, but she is also teaching us somethings bigger than food.

In the latest episode of “Gourmet Makes,” Saffitz is challenged to recreate the all-time popular tortilla-chip: Doritos.“This is your biggest challenge [in the series] yet,” said Adam Rapoport, Editor-in-Chief of Bon Appetit, in the video. After days of experimentation and nearly 30 tests, Saffitz prevails and created a gourmet Dorito recipe.

Posted on YouTube on May 22, this video already has over 4 million views. Saffitz’s “Gourmet Makes” videos and her culinary talents is unlike any other chefs online. Her scientific approach to cooking combines the arts and sciences together. While people usually separate the two as complete opposites, “Gourmet Makes” shows how closely intertwined our world actually is.

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