June Xie

June Xie Makes Delicious Meals While Cutting Down on Food Waste

Videos of the hilarious YouTube chef are not only entertaining, but they are also helpful for people on a budget who are trying to cut down on what they throw out.
December 20, 2020
8 mins read

Just last year, Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel dominated cooking videos. Their chefs were funny, and they were allowed to have their human quirks show through. It was impossible not to love Claire Saffitz after watching her chaotic breakdowns in her mission to achieve perfection. Everyone had to laugh along with Brad Leone after witnessing his fan-branded “golden retriever energy.” And how could anyone not enjoy Carla Music’s almost motherly instructions? Then, of course, BA came crashing and burning down. Now, there is a void in the YouTube culinary community that needs to be filled. The one who is up to bat? June Xie.

Introducing June Xie

With restaurant experience, Xie is the senior food producer of Delish. Like many other food media companies, Delish has its own YouTube channel. Content ranges from how-to videos, such as this brioche recipe, to revealing favorite meals of British royalty. Delish even offers celebrity kitchen tours.

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In many of Xie’s first videos, she demonstrated her own recipes, like sourdough, ramen, Parker House dinner rolls, Buche de Noel and Earl Grey crème brulee. Though the recipes are mouthwatering and her personality peeps through in hilarious quips, Xie did not rise to her current popularity until she began a series called “Budget Eats.”

Learn How To Make Food on a Budget

In these videos, Xie’s personality shines through as she cooks in her home kitchen. Instead of showing already tested recipes, she is developing and testing recipes in real time, constricted by a tight budget and the space and tools available in her kitchen. This gives her “Budget Eats” videos a more down-to-earth feel.

As Xie summarizes in each video, “Let’s see what mess I get myself into and let’s see how I can get myself out of it.” With these “messes,” we see her fail, brainstorm, react hilariously and triumph with creativity — the sort of wholehearted human experience reminiscent of BA’s most popular chefs and videos.

June Xie’s Videos Have Personality and Humor

With a partially shaved head in some videos, a dangling earring in only one ear, a slightly crooked smile, a make-up free face and constant close-ups, Xie is immediately shown as unconventional in comparison to the typical dressed-up YouTube chef. She makes faces at the camera, occasionally bringing it close to whisper a funny cooking observation or secret she doesn’t want her taste-tester (her boyfriend) to know.

Her conversations with the camera are funny. For example, in her most popular video, “I Made 8 Dinners for Two People On A $25 Budget (In NYC!),” she says, “I’m pretty good at this now, guys. Right? Hubris. It will be the death of me.” As she says “hubris,” her cheeky smile immediately turns serious, and she stares straight into the camera, almost as if she is giving a monologue in a dramatic Greek play.

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In another video, “I Lived On A $5 A Day Budget For A Week In New York City,” after failing to make hummus, she declares, “This is a disaster. Do you hear this pot hissing at me? It’s mocking me. I deserved to be mocked.”

Xie’s personality is so funny that it makes her hour-long videos pass by in a blink. Accompanied by more than 1,000 likes of agreement, Angela Qin commented, “Who else watched the WHOLE THING and didn’t realize that an hour passed?”

Learn Creative Ways to Reduce Food Waste

Beyond her personality, Xie’s creativity is on full display as she pulls inspiration from multiple cuisines. In the video where she makes eight dinners on a $25 budget, for example, she makes chicken curry, roti and dosas, a clear connection to Indian cuisine. In that same video, she also makes okonomiyaki, a Japanese dish.

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Xie also pulls inspiration from her own Chinese background, making various stir-fries, such as sweet and sour lotus root, soup noodles, scallion pancakes and dumplings. In other videos, she makes more classically American food like split pea soup, baked potato wedges and pancakes.

Besides her knowledge of many cuisines, her creative genius is shown in the inventive ways she repurposes ingredients. How else could she make such restrictive budgets work in one of the most expensive cities in the world? From one bag of oats, she makes oat pancakes, oatmeal, oat flour (which can then be added to various other foods) and oat milk.

She makes broth out of meats that still have bones attached, skims the fat that floats at the top of the broth, uses the fat to cook and flavor other food items and rips off the tender boiled meat to use for later dishes.

With chicken, she minces a portion of it to make meatballs, cuts up chunks for other chicken dishes, uses the skin as another source of cooking oil and flavor and uses the bones to make bone broth. With her vegetables, she uses the unwanted parts (for example, onion and carrot skins) to make a vegetable broth.

A side effect of Xie’s creativity is the reduction of food waste. Americans throw away 30-40% of their food, the largest category of waste in landfills. When left to rot in landfills, food waste produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is considerably worse than carbon dioxide. Factoring in the resources and energy that went into producing the food (land, water, energy, transportation, cooking, storing, etc.), food waste produces enough greenhouse emissions that if it was a country, it would rank third in most greenhouse emissions.

Through her creativity, Xie is inadvertently teaching millions of viewers how to reduce waste, and she is contributing to the growing zero food waste movement. Besides cooking creatively to reduce waste, she also does not buy “perfect” products. Because of her budget restrictions, she buys slightly older produce from the discounted section of grocery stores and simply trims off the bad parts of her produce. As YouTube user NathalieB said, “I’m a wasteful cook but seeing examples of how to repurpose food makes me want to change. Extremely well done video.”

Relevancy To COVID

Her tight budgets are extremely relevant to today’s COVID situation. People have to budget wisely with the coronavirus throttling the U.S. economy. According to Forbes, the country’s GDP growth fell by 31.04%, “numbers not seen since the Great Depression.” Unemployment is at 14.7%, the highest rate in decades.

Connecting Xie’s entertaining videos with the grim situation, another YouTube user, Sara Moore, commented, “We need more of her more than ever with so many people having to cut their budgets down to basically nothing with covid effecting so many families.”

Go Watch June Xie

Genius, creative, and just so human, Xie’s personality reaches through her videos and grabs the viewer’s attention. Whether you need inspiration for budgeting, reducing food waste or you just want to be entertained, June Xie is the YouTuber for you.

Aimi Wen, Duke University

Writer Profile

Aimi Wen

Duke University
Mechanical Engineering

Aimi is a mechanical engineering major at Duke University. She loves reading, hiking and baking.

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