Caleb Brown is a valued member of X-Team's vetting team who hosts a cooking show on YouTube in his spare time. In this interview, we discuss why he started a YouTube cooking channel, how he comes up with ideas, and how he prepares his videos (pun intended).

How did you come up with the idea of a cooking YouTube channel?

I've been interested in leveling up my home cooking skills since my college days. In fact, while in college, I pitched the idea of hosting a cooking show called "Gourmet University" on our local college station. I was politely rejected. Luckily, in the era of YouTube, you no longer need to ask permission.

I also wanted to expand my skillset in some areas where I knew I was weak. I started the channel knowing very little about audio and video production. I still have a long way to go, but I'm learning for sure. Seeing the growth of some of my favorite food-focused YouTube personalities, such as Binging with Babish, Emmymade, and Joshua Weissman, inspired me to actually go for it and start filming.

How is your cooking channel different from other cooking channels?

At the moment, each episode I make is entirely based on what's fun to me and the kind of content I'd personally want to watch. This means I'm not as focused on a single niche within the cooking domain like many other channels. Most cooking channels will try to corner a market like gourmet meals, fast food copycat recipes, or recreating ancient recipes.

I start brainstorming for the next show by asking myself "what would be fun and weird to make?" The results are a bit inconsistent but a lot of fun for me. My method is far from advice, but it's a format that works for me as I learn how to make better content.

Where do you find inspiration for your next recipe?

I start by thinking about what would be fun and maybe raise an eyebrow or two. However, I do research a lot of recipes and food trends. The history of food is as old as the history of humans, so there isn't a shortage of unique recipes that are hundreds and even thousands of years old.

And yet, there have been a ton of interesting food trends happening on platforms like TikTok. One recipe that's on my "maybe" list is a homemade pickle wrapped in cotton candy. To be clear, that's a TikTok recipe and not from ancient Mesopotamia.

What's your process for going from idea to finished video?

I have a growing "maybe" list in Evernote that I add things to as I see articles online or when something pops into my head. About a week before filming, I'll pick the recipe that I'm most excited about and order anything I may not be able to find in any local stores. Then I research the recipe as much as I can for any tips, tricks, and history that I can add to the video.

After I wrap up X-Team work on Friday, I begin to get my home kitchen ready for filming - this includes the cameras on tripods and setting up umbrella lights. I record an intro (typically doing three takes), make the recipe, then film a review/final thoughts. Over the rest of the weekend, I'll edit the video and schedule the final version for publication on YouTube.

What tech do you use for audio/video/production?

I began filming with my iPhone 12 Pro but quickly upgraded to a Canon EOS M50. The iPhone actually did a great job and I still use it to get some B-roll footage. I use a Rode Lavalier GO for my mic and a Blue Yeti USB mic for voiceover work. I use a MacBook Pro with the M1 chip for editing. I also use an Elgato Stream Deck Mini which is usually meant for gamers but for my needs it's an affordable soundboard that allows me to play sound effects and audio clips. I currently use iMovie for editing but I'm learning Final Cut Pro.

What's the future for your channel? Any big goals in mind?

Great question! The channel for me is mostly a very tangible way to learn some new skills and understand how the YouTube algorithms work. Each episode I fix or at least improve upon one thing that I'm unhappy with. I still have a long way to go! So while I don't plan on going head-to-head with MrBeast anytime soon, I hope to learn a ton, improve the show's quality, and share some fun and often bizarre recipes along the way.

Love the videos so far! Best of luck with your channels.

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