Internet is buzzing from new series featuring culinary influencers

Ever found yourself hooked on watching Tasty videos, captivated by the fast moving hands and birds-eye view of cooking? You’re not alone.

As a popular fixture on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, Tasty videos have taken the internet by storm, with 9 million subscribers to the YouTube channel and an all-in average of more than 2.1 billion monthly video views.

In addition to having the website Tasty.co and the mobile app, the Tasty empire has New York Times-bestselling cookbooks, TastyOne Top, a smart induction cooktop that is integrated with the Tasty app, and an exclusive kitchenware line available at Walmart.

As part of BuzzFeed, Tasty is unfurling its latest series named Tasty Talent with five-time James Beard Foundation Award-winner Marcus Samuelsson as executive chef-in-residence, and seven other chefs showcasing a variety of global cuisines and techniques. In the lineup is James Beard-nominated chef JJ Johnson; Senior Culinary Specialist Alexis deBoschnek; Founder and author of Spice Spice Baby Dr. Kanchan Koya; recipe developer and producer for Tasty Japan Rie McClenny; food stylist Alix Traeger; baking and pastry chef Vaughn Vreeland; and San Diego’s own, executive chef and partner of El Jardín, Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins.

PACIFIC snagged a few moments with Zepeda-Wilkins, who is also a former Top Chef contestant, to hear more about the new series, her favorite Mexican spice and a pro-chef tip for everyone preparing Mexican food.

PACIFIC: How did you become part of the Tasty team?

CLAUDETTE ZEPEDA-WILKINS: I actually was emailed by the casting directors, we did a Skype, and next thing I know I am doing a screening at the Buzzfeed studio!

What was it like to meet Marcus Samuelsson?

Meeting him was incredible. He is exactly the same in person as you see on TV, he is an amazing, warm person.

How does the new original series differ from the Tasty videos?

In the videos, you mainly see the hands, now we (the chefs) are talking through the process of our recipes. From me, you will see more personal recipes and those to my restaurant. And you get to see our cute faces. My hands aren’t so cute.

What’s it like knowing your videos will reach 9 million subscribers?

It’s slightly terrifying, and I try not to think of that number. If you think of what chefs are... we are kids that want to please. But I realized, it’s going to be fine, it’s food at the end of the day.

What do you hope people get out of the Tasty Talent Series?

I am excited to showcase Mexican food. I’m looking forward to constructive comments and requests, and to take the scariness away in preparing Mexican food. It is a global cuisine for anyone who wants to prepare it out there.

What’s your favorite Mexican spice or food to work with?

My favorite is dried chiles. It sparks this amazing inspiration in me. It’s amazing when you make a salsa and add one dried chile — the complexity it adds. If you take the chiles away you wouldn’t have those beautiful flavors. Specifically, my favorite is pasilla mixe.

Give us a pro tip on what to do/what not to do when preparing Mexican cuisine?

When you make a marinade with dried chiles, you need to strain it finely, the skin can impart a bitterness to your sauce. Also, you should never boil dried chiles, just heat the water up and steep them.

What do you do when you aren’t making videos and cheffing at El Jardin?

I like hole-in-the-walls, spend time with my kids, my daughter loves shopping — we like to do girly things — read and go to the beach

What do you eat outside of El Jardin?

At home I like to prepare a lot of Crock Pot meals. Eating out, I love ramen, the restaurant Punjabi Tandoor, and Chinese food, especially salt and pepper chicken wings.

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