The Six Telltale Signs of an “Elevated” Home Cook & The Modern State of Food Media
Anthony Ashmore LCSW — TheHamptonsHomeCook.com
The technological landscape of 2020 serves as a broad and diverse opportunity for anyone with a creative passion.
Whether you are a model, a gamer, a blogger or a guru — there exists an equilateral potentiality for commercial success, based on your level of innovative skill.
As a Home Cook, I joined the game a little late.
Although I’ve been a student of Home Cooking for many years, I was busy, at first, working in the Film and Television Business. Next, I pursued a Masters Degree and State License in Clinical Psychotherapy.
Now, as I synthesize the two career paths — they both lend themselves quite well to launching an Elevated Home Cooking Brand.
Despite whatever innovative depth I might sense within myself, it’s evident to even the most novice entrepreneur, that the Social Media market is flooded with an over-saturation of creative talent — all of whom are actively trying to commercialize on their passion of choice.
Within the Home Cooking arena, there are a significant number of Soccer Moms, College Students, Young Professionals and Frat Boys, who all purport to be “the Home Cook you’ll want to follow.” Some of these personalities even have a following of 50,000 or more on Social Media venues like Tik-Tok or Instagram.
In an era where the 10 Minute YouTube video is becoming much less appealing — younger audiences are much more interested in acquiring an exciting thrill within 60 seconds or less — hence the success of a medium like Tik-Tok and/or the innovative Production Value of brands like Buzzfeed Food and Tasty.
Within the online “home cooking” realm, this translates to teaching a young-adult demographic how to produce a diverse range of culinary presentations, in less than a minute. Whether it’s how to “Make Chick-Fil-A Nuggets at Home” or “Turn Cauliflower into Sesame Chicken”, younger audiences (as well as Tik-Tok’s algorithm) are fascinated by innovative ideas with a lighting quick, modern spin.
Being an elevated “Home Cook” in 2020 isn’t just about being able to make an impressive meal and posting a generic photo of it on Facebook. Let’s face it, it’s 2020 — and being a “good home cook with Facebook friends”, sort of places you in the pedestrian category.
The word Elevated is defined as: “raised to an important or impressive level.”
For the purposes of this article, let’s define an Elevated Home Cook as “a cook with no official culinary training, who manages to make a noteworthy dent in the commercial market”.
On a bigger scale, we’re talking about people like Ina Garten and Jamie Oliver, while on a more tempered scale we’re discussing the founders of a brand like Food 52 and Cafe Delights.
From my perspective as a Psychoanalyst, we are going to highlight six elements that I have found to be a core skill of any commercially successful Elevated Home Cook.
Three of these points are entrepreneurial in nature — the other three are culinary.
- They Have An Eye for Food Photography (Entrepreneurial)
So many Home-Cooks simply “take pictures” of what they make from the particular angle they happen to be standing at. An elevated Home Cook will always be hyper-conscious of elements like lighting, angle, depth of field, food styling and photo editing. Taking a course in Photography can majorly help you “up your game”, in producing a much more aesthetically appealing blog. For a prime example of such, visit the food and recipe blog: Cafe Delights. Although I do not know the Founder of Cafe Delights(Karina) — I can genuinely say she is at the top of the aesthetic food and recipe game.
2. They Develop Editorial Skill (Entrepreneurial)
Don’t take my word for it — go on Tik-Tok and research some of the top cooking profiles. You’ll find extremely casual Home Cooks with a following of 100,000 or more — who pay absolutely no attention to Aesthetics or Editorial Precision. Despite their evident success: this doesn’t make them an elevated home cook. It simply makes them a popular niche account that has managed to captivate a particular demographic. A true Elevated Home Cook will take a course in writing or mass-media communication, to learn how to transpose their inner thoughts on food and cooking, into something semi-literary. Moral of the story: being part of a “trend” is temporary.
3. They Value Market Research (Entrepreneurial)
Although being part of a trend is one thing — understanding “what’s trending” is another. I’d hate to say it, but I see many seasoned cooks (and chefs) in their 50’s and 60’s (who were part of the amazing PBS generation), still making hour long videos on YouTube and writing expansive Cook Books. I can say, with confidence, that the food media landscape has changed (and continues to change every day). As far as 2020 is concerned, Social Media users with an interest in cooking — are desiring to acquire both their information and entertainment value in a minute or less. Now, this doesn’t mean that Cook Books and longer Programming segments are obsolete. However, it does mean: the internet generation is evolving with the internet itself. They want things quick, fast and immediate, so they can move onto the next video.
4. They Understand Layering (Culinary)
Not to sound pretentious, but I loathe when someone is a good with “Crock Pot” recipes and therefore self-identifies as a “great Home Cook”. No, you aren’t. You have completely forsaken the notion of flavor building, textural construction and ingredient layering. For example, anyone can throw a bunch of ingredients into a crock pot to make a fairly tasty Beef Stew. The Elevated Home Cook, however, understands that using a regular pot on the stove, allows one to caramelize their vegetables and strategically layer elements of butter, wine, sauce, seasoning and so forth. Utilizing this understanding as a general rule, is a major part of producing dishes that “wow” an audience.
5. They Are Constantly Learning (Culinary)
Whenever on you’re on your high horse about anything, just remember one thing: Meryl Streep still goes to acting class. Learning is a major, major, major part of being a successfully elevated anything. After I would come home from High School in 2002, I would turn on a brand new series entitled “The Barefoot Contessa.” I was captivated by a pleasant and classy cooking instructor with the most soothing voice I had ever heard. In later years, I discovered the clinically precise recipes of Chefs and Cooks like Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. Currently, I’m on a “Cooks Country” binge, when I’m not busy drooling over a blog like Cafe Delights, as mentioned previously.
6. They Have a Natural Instinct (Culinary)
You could hire Michael Jordon to be my Basketball instructor and I would still be terrible. The ugly truth is: not everyone is meant to be an elevated home cook (or even a decent home cook for that matter). Cooking is inherently instinctual. For some, there is just this little voice in their head that says: “add salt here”, “add a drop of wine there”, “broil before serving” or “don’t add cinnamon this time”. The good news is, practice makes perfect. And, perhaps I shouldn’t be so dread and doom. In recent years we’ve learned that even “disastrous” cooks can learn how to perform well in the Kitchen (ie: “The Worst Cooks in America” on the Food Network).
As we close out on this culinary psycho/market analysis, I’ve come to realize the most important element of being an Elevated Home Cook: “taking pleasure in serving others.”
I cook because I love serving the people I love.
Ina Garten demonstrates this regularly as she cooks for her friends and her beloved husband. On his PBS Special, “Heart and Soul”, Jacques Pepin tells us how cooking with his family has been the highlight of his life. Molly Yeh (on the Food Network) shows us how having a marriage and being a young mother is very much about nurturing through food.
Elevation is about heightening. Heightening requires motivation. Motivation is the byproduct of Passion. Passion is a derivative of love.
Learn more about Anthony Ashmore at TheHamptonsHomeCook.com