Sky Full of Bacon


Checking Out the Saveur Video Blog Nominees: Pt. 2

Continued from here.

Food 52

From obscure folks working in middle America, we go to the media big leagues with Food 52. Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs are two women who write for the New York Times and various other publications… including, in Hesser’s case at least, Saveur, hmm. Even more indicative of their place of privilege in the bloggy world is the list of folks helping them on their blog, which is longer than Beyonce’s entourage— including two videographers who recently graduated from NYU.

So this better be good.

Your Best Bread Pudding from Food52 on Vimeo.

Oh my, bread pudding made with stale baguette and $30 bourbon in a copper pot— yes, we are in New York now.

There’s this thing that happens these days where a newspaper or magazine, who puts out a dignified and thoroughly professional product, decides to let its people dabble in other media online— and the result is not nearly so professional. Hesser and Stubbs (sounds like a cop show) are pretty good presenters, they speak articulately and with a little media training they’d learn how to talk to the camera more than each other. But the videography keeps them at too great a distance, it shoots the sides of bowls when one of them is trying to show what’s inside, or can barely see a pan over the edge of a counter. Not to mention a use of shakicam bordering on tidalwavecam. (The point of handheld cameras is that you get in close, so you put up with the jitters. This gives us jitters without actually getting the shot.)  I’m not saying it’s terrible, but on a site where everything bespeaks an image of genteel upscale professionalism, the videography is the thing that lets the rest down and seems very homemade.

The strength here is that Hesser and Stubbs show obvious comfort with sophisticated recipes, and you believe you can do it because they do it so relaxedly. In the end, the recipes are contemporary and appealing, so the technical shortcomings that are obvious to me (look how dark the still image in the Vimeo window is! That takes two seconds to fix with a levels filter!) may seem unimportant to you.

Here’s another video, about mashed potatoes, which had a different director— let’s just pause to savor that notion; this blog post had a different director— and it seems to solve many of my issues with the one above; the two-camera setup makes it livelier visually and we actually get to see the food in this one. (Nine minutes seems loooong, though, for such a simple subject.)

* * *

Maangchi

If I had one personal issue with the blogs so far, it’s that I don’t really need a video to teach me to make most of what I’ve looked at. That changes with Maangchi, devoted to Korean food.

What makes this such great web video is that it’s a solid cooking show about genuinely novel (to me) dishes, and yet at the same time it has a kind of unintentionally daffy edge that comes from the star’s perky personality and her big false eyelashes and the fact that half the time, you can’t understand what she’s saying; she’s like a Korean Zsa Zsa, or Andrea Martin doing a foreign cooking show on SCTV. But even if you didn’t catch what she just said or did, you know she’s excited about it all the same (and thankfully, the important info is on screen).

Production is fairly rudimentary (it’s all shot from one position, for instance, like 50s TV) but you can see the food fine, and the editing keeps it moving briskly. Here’s another one, about a soybean stew. I don’t have any further points to make from it; but I like watching these more than any of the ones so far.

Tomorrow: the last two nominees, and who I’d vote for.

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One Response to “Checking Out the Saveur Video Blog Nominees: Pt. 2”

  1. Sky Full of Bacon » Blog Archive » Checking Out the Saveur Video Blog Nominees: Pt. 3 Says:

    […] Continued from here and here. […]