By Michael Varrati
As dedicated members of any fandom will tell you, when you’re obsessively committed to a particular TV show or film, the ultimate dream is to be able to integrate a little of that world into our very own. For established YouTube phenomenon Jimmy Wong, the desire to make fiction into fact manifested itself in the most unlikely of places: his kitchen.
Each week, Wong, along with co-host Ashley Adams, brings worlds of fantasy to life in culinary form on the popular “Feast of Fiction,” a YouTube series and channel geared toward offering viewers recipes derived from their favorite shows/movies. To be sure, these are not merely recipes based on a show, but rather, “Feast of Fiction” goes one step further to derive the recipes from the world of the show itself. For example, when Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor proclaimed a fondness for the odd combination of “fish fingers and custard” on “Doctor Who,” Wong and Adams set out to cook that recipe.
With a multitude of themed recipes under their belts, one has to wonder how well-versed Wong is with the various titles to which they pay homage on “Feast of Fiction.” To his credit, the YouTube maestro shows an impressive amount of geek cred.
“For the most part, I’m a fan of the majority of the shows we make food from,” Wong tells me. “Some of them, I don’t know because they are fan requests of more obscure animated stuff. But, I’ve been around the block when it comes to seeing different anime and movies, as well as all things geek/nerdy, so I’m usually at least familiar. My wonderful co-host, Ashley, isn’t as familiar, but she’s much better at things like crafting, baking, and the artistic side of the recipes. So, with our forces combined, it’s a pretty good combination.”
But, you may wonder, what if the menu item is slightly askew from what we would find in the real world? Wong shares that it’s all about imaginative combination:
“I’ll scour the web for 8–10 recipes for that particular item or items that are similar, and make my own combination of those recipes, adding specific things to make it more legitimate and closer to what the item on the show would be. After that’s all done, I’ll cook it once at home, maybe twice if it didn’t turn out right the first time, and then get ready to make it on set.”
This commitment to craft showcases Wong is no slouch when it comes to culinary artistry, and by his own admission, it has led to
some interesting challenges on the show.
“One of the particularly more challenging recipes was called ‘Milk of the Poppies,’ from ‘Game of Thrones.’ In the show, it’s akin to morphine, a highly potent pain drug that you take right when you’re on the brink of death to make your passing more passable. To make that, we had to grind up poppy seeds and make milk from it, and it ended up being one of the messiest processes I’ve ever done. We would put them in this coffee grinder and do them in batches, and these poppy seeds would literally go everywhere. I found poppy seeds all over my kitchen for weeks after that.”
From the challenges, though, also comes a great deal of fun. Wong admits that he loves the process of bringing some of these recipes to life. And it’s not just because of the final product, Wong relishes the challenge of taking the abstract and making it reality.
“In terms of favorite recipes, more recently we made Lego candy in honor of ‘The Lego Movie.’ To do that, I needed to buy extra ingredients so I could make a mold of prior Legos, so that I could then pour candy gelatin into and let it harden. That whole process was a lot of fun, because it require a science-y aspect that we don‘t usually do.”
— — Michael’s chat with Jimmy is part of VideoInk’s “Video Food Fest” Special Issue. Come back every day this week for more thoughts from some of the most interesting food-creators on the web. — -
Like some of the world’s top chefs, part of Wong’s passion is the process, and it’s a love he happily shares with a digital audience that is always hungry for more. More so, it’s Wong’s understanding of YouTube and traditional cooking programming that makes “Feast of Fiction” such an effective watch for its many hungry subscribers.
“Cooking shows have been around for a long time,” Wong says, “You’re usually allowed a 30-minute time slot on TV to do a show, which means you can take your time with the ingredients, but it also requires you to be really engaging with the audience. It’s really similar for YouTube, but instead of 30 minutes, you get five, at the longest, eight. That may seem like a tiny amount of time, but when you’re watching something online, if you can’t keep someone’s interest, you’ve already lost. You have to keep it lively, upbeat, catchy, and everything that makes an online video successful. The cooking show format still remains the same, but there’s a lot more detail-work that needs to go into each bit to make sure people are entertained.”
Luckily, when that entertainment is recipes derived from the very things that the audience is entertained by, what you’re left with is a tasty feast, not just of fiction, but of satisfying fact.