“Pop culture has become mainstream”

Cartoons, cult series, Zelda… Your books Gastronogeek draw your pop culture recipes. Why is this universe a mine of inspiration?

It’s funny, I’ve never seen things like this. For me, it’s more obvious. I’ve always been passionate about food and pop culture, and I wanted to make it my job. This universe has become ultra conventional, and I’m not saying that in a negative way, it’s a fact. Today I can talk about living Dead Anyone and everyone knows what I’m talking about. When she was 15 years old, it was not the same sauce. The geeks passed for weirdos, tanning in the light of their computer in front of world of warcraft and that they were not very serious, because pop culture was considered entertainment.

©Gastronogeek Little Murders in the Kitchen of Thibaud Villanova, 2022, Hachette Heroes (Hachette Livre)

So phenomena like Game of Thrones, Harry Pottereither Star Wars made things change. When we look at all these classics, we realize that gastronomy is very present and that it is eaten all the time. At the same time, there is a natural human connection to food (especially in France). Just look Lord of the Rings : the first twelve pages of The Fellowship of the Ring speak only of the Hobbits and their eating habits. Pulling this thread, I realized that this was the case in many works, banquets of Harry Potter in cherry pie twin peaks.

when i did gourmet 1, there were cookbooks inspired by novels and works, but I was the first to do so, delving into the references, mobilizing a culinary photographer and recreating settings to tell stories through my photos. In my first book I had to select 15 menus (starter, main course, dessert) from hundreds and thousands of possibilities. So I chose the most iconic references, those that I knew by heart and grew up with. i started with Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter Y Superman. Then I told myself that in each chapter, I was also going to put in really unconventional jobs to show this pop culture community that I’m not a salesman and that I had a real project. so i added Night of the Living Dead, Doctor Who, Hellboy

What is your working method? Do you take inspiration from existing recipes or do you only offer original creations?

I need to know the references thoroughly to exploit them. Either I already know them by heart, or I rob them thoroughly to become unbeatable. Since I was little, I haven’t slept more than five hours a night, so I take advantage of these very long days to work, read and watch series and movies. For my recipes, I work a lot with the concept of the mental palate: I have a library of tastes, ingredients, flavors, techniques…

If we take the example of Strange things and their famous waffles, I know they are Eggo, really bad frozen goods. We know how to make great waffles (from Liege, Brussels, French…), but so do the Americans. I’ll see where the action takes place Strange things to read the recipes of the chefs and mothers of this region and understand their process. They use many intermediate, industrialized food products, many aromas, powdered yeast… So I am going to reappropriate them to offer something healthier, but that stays in line with the original recipe.

the tatin of Superman.©Guillaume Czerw, Gastronogeek, Hachette heroes editions, 2014

That is my technique to reproduce the plates that I see in the works. But also sometimes I make them up from A to Z, taking inspiration from the series and wondering what the characters could eat. For example, for Superman, I couldn’t find an identified plate. Clark Kent never said: “Ohlala, it would really break my stomach with a chili con carne” ! So I created a narrative asking myself what I could eat. She started getting the powers from her when she was still living with Jonathan and Martha in Smallville: what fruits and vegetables are grown there? Apricot, but also almonds. So I invented a tatin with a thick and well caramelized dough. I put rosemary on it to give it a bit of originality and, in addition, they also do it in the region. So it was perfect.

Which recipe was the hardest to transcribe?

The first book was the hardest to do because I was a good cook, but an amateur. When it came out and had this success, someone rang my bell: it was impostor syndrome. He said: “Hi, I’m going to sit over there, we’re going to spend some time together, man”. I started cooking six to eight hours a day. I wanted to make a Doctor Who recipe that was deconstructed and typically English. I thought fish and chips – I needed all the flavor markers, but it shouldn’t seem like it. It was a pain because as long as I didn’t have the training I wanted, we couldn’t take the picture. Got us weeks behind. In the end, people were happy, but that was the hardest thing to do. After this episode, I understood what the limits and restrictions of creation were.

Which world of pop culture is the most suitable for cooking?

Harry Potter. Molly Weasley’s dishes, school banquets, house elf association meals in volumes 3 and 4, Harry and Ron’s encounter on the Hogwarts Express with the candy cart, the mythical butterbeer , molasses… If we delve into the most global universe, we also find all this gastronomy in fantastic beasts. Norbert Scamander exchanges his briefcase with a muggle, Jacob Kowalski, who wants to open a bakery and his bag is full of Polish babkas… In the end, it’s all about food!

There is a boom because we know how to film it better and we have many American formats, such as The best chef. But in reality, the cuisine has been on French television since the 1960s. It goes back to Bocuse and his team of great chefs. It was a whole generation of great gastronomy and the new wave of French cuisine. Then there was Maïté, a restaurateur from the southwest who liked (above all) thanks to her character. We also saw Guy Job and Joël Robuchon, a gastronomy legend who was for a long time the most famous man in the world. And he wanted to democratize this universe through these shows. We have always seen cooking on television, but the Anglo-Saxons and the Japanese have made many programs that have inspired the French.

Culinary competitions necessarily speak of France, which is THE country of gastronomy. In 2014, all the TV channels had their cooking show. When I look The best chefI tell myself that we have evolved a lot between the first and the last season. We put aside the reality television side of the Americans to offer an ultra-quality program with crazy cuisine and dishes prepared by chefs. Today we give lessons to the whole world. Why is there so much interest in this content? Because we like to eat, because it makes us dream and because we tell ourselves that we can do it too.

You have been recording your recipes on Twitch for two years. What social network is the most suitable for sharing the kitchen?

On Instagram, we share photos and show the finished product, but we can’t broadcast it. On Twitch, we’re in the snapshot. Afterwards it is not the same equipment: you need a kitchen, equipment, good sound… But it is live and you can show, explain and communicate more directly than on Instagram. The interface is really cool and it even allows you to move links in the chat and react. I don’t know which one is objectively better, but I definitely feel more comfortable on Twitch. Today, I spend between 20 and 25 hours live per week on this platform and I feel good there to create, communicate and answer questions.

Do you remember your worst memory in the kitchen?

monster cake recipe Zelda, filmed and documented on my YouTube channel. A real pain. My son was coming and I was working hard to put some money under the mattress. I was exhausted and completely exhausted, but I denied it, because he told myself that I didn’t have time for that. On Saturdays, instead of resting, I went to the studio to record videos. I didn’t have time to go over the recipe that day but I had to because YouTube’s algorithm is a vicious circle: if you don’t post regularly, you don’t get promoted and people don’t watch your videos. . Friends helped me film but I did all the post-production by myself. Anyway, I made the video, but my recipe wasn’t perfect, my cake was nothing, the cream didn’t rise even though I made hundreds of whipped creams… It was good, but it didn’t. quite.

It was light years away from what I had in mind and I didn’t like the result. I posted it anyway because I absolutely had to post stuff. A few weeks later I recognized my burn-out, they helped me and I had six months off in which I cooked a lot, moved house and distanced myself. From that moment I told myself that I would not publish again if it was to create visceral or painful things. I came out of this exhaustion and left this video on my channel because it is a witness to this period.

What are your favorite recipes from your new book? Little murders in the kitchen ?

There are a lot of them: some come from old series, others from more recent series. But I would say chicken curry from Sherlock Holmes, because it is one of my first memories of novels. My parents absolutely wanted me to read classics and stuff, but my mom also loved detective novels like Agatha Christie or Conan Doyle. I remember Mrs. Hudson’s chicken curry in The Naval Treaty Adventure. The recipe was very cool to reproduce because I seasoned it with the tastes and knowledge of the XIXY century. There are also those ofHercule Poirot with Elinor Carlisle’s Christmas sandwiches and pudding. They are very old school recipes, but they are Proust madeleines that take me back to my childhood.

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