Skip to Main Content

Creator and Artist Stories

Q&A with Chef John of Food Wishes

By Annie Baxter

Communications Manager

Chef John Mitzewich is the voice behind YouTube’s most subscribed cooking channel, Food Wishes. Chef John today posted his 500th video to YouTube, and he recently took time out to answer a few questions about how he makes his videos and the trends he’s seeing as a YouTube chef.

How do you decide what to make videos about?
The whole concept of the "Food Wishes" channel is "What's your food wish?" I get tons of recipe requests, and try to honor the most popular wishes when I plan my dishes. Other times, I'll just start cooking something and realize it would make a cool video, so I'll throw the camera on a tripod and begin filming.

How seasonal are your videos -- both in terms of how you think about what you create and how your audience fluctuates?

Since I film what I eat, and I tend to eat very seasonally, the videos are generally quite in tune to what's available that time of year. Also, if I know a certain seasonal dish is coming up (like chicken wings for the Super Bowl), I'll try and plan something a few weeks ahead so people have time to learn and make it.

What are some other trends you've noticed in viewership of your videos, subscriber growth or fan comments over the years?

Subscribers and viewership have both grown steadily over the last 12 months and are increasing faster compared to when I first started out. I've more than doubled both my subscribers and viewership this year compared to last. It seems every year that the holiday season is when my entire catalogue gets a boost, as I think more people are looking for that special recipe to make for their family and friends. My viewership has also been pretty diverse. I get a huge range of ages, from kids cooking their first recipe, to seniors who've never cooked before getting into it for the first time.

What are the keys to really great cooking videos?

To me, a great cooking video is one that makes the viewer feel like they're making the video with you, not just watching someone make a recipe. I want to bring the viewer right into the scene. Close, interesting shots of the food, with an engaging, affable narration are what I try and use to achieve this.
How important is a mouth-watering thumbnail?
A great looking thumbnail that is clear, bright, and close-up, is second in importance only to the recipe title itself.

What is a common mistake budding cooks make when making videos?

They try to do a TV-style cooking show. You're on YouTube, not Food Network, so stop trying to do an imitation of a network "stand and stir" show. Generally the viewer is way more interested in the food, than the person making it; so stop trying to "perform" for the camera, and just show us the cooking.

Do you have any insight into how much technology, like YouTube videos or iPad, is moving into the kitchen?

I know this is a huge trend! I get all kinds of emails from people that tell me they take their laptops or iPads into the kitchen to cook with. A library of your favorite video recipes from YouTube on your iPad IS the cookbook of the next decade.

Thanksgiving. How do you approach this holiday as a video-making chef?

I just try to film a nice variety of recipes suited to entertaining. People are at their most insecure when cooking for friends and family during the holidays, so I want these videos to make life a little easier (and more fun!).

Anything else you'd like to add?

For someone who doesn't cook, watching a video recipe is the best, and most enjoyable way to learn. As food television trends towards reality shows and contest-based programming, I predict YouTube becomes the primary resource for on-demand culinary instruction.