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Best YouTube Chefs of 2017

14 July 2017 3 comments   Misc. links


tl;dr Highly subjective rundown of YouTube channels cooking inspiring stuff. According to me.

I am, by no means, an expert at cooking or media. I'm a web developer. But I do watch lots of cooking videos on YouTube. So it makes me an expert based on what I see. ...subjectively.

This is list based on the gutteral feeling of imagining opening YouTube (most usually on my Roku) and noticing that all chefs I follow have released a new video. Which order I would watch them is the order I most like their material.

My General "Criteria"

This is what I base "good" on:

  1. Fun and enjoyable to watch
  2. Accessible to cook (doesn't have to be simple but has to be something I can see myself cooking and eating)
  3. Ability to actually do ...later (ideally a link in the video description to the transcript plus ingredient list)
  4. Mouthwatering to look at and imagine to smell
  5. If I make this, will my family love me more?

Number 1: J. Kenji López-Alt and SeriousEats

J. Kenji López-Alt

Before I start my praise; a piece of constructive criticism: It's totally confusing what's Kenji's personal stuff and what's SeriousEats. I still haven't grokked the interconnection but usually it doesn't matter because I mentally lump them together as one.

My wife calls him "my boyfriend" and I don't deny that I adore him. He's everything I want to be as a chef; down-to-earth, professional, varied, scientific, and loves the simple recipes just as much as any busy parent with a family to feed.

The videos are short and focussed and the on-screen extra facts and figures makes it easier to follow along. He also does short little videos about techniques such as how to slice onions.

He's also the author of the book The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science which I sometimes read before going to bed. There's comfort in knowing that he's done empirical research, like a chemist, and not just basing his statements on years of experience.

Number 2: Food Wishes aka. Chef John

Food Wishes

Just like Kenji, Chef John, is an american chef who records relatively simple recipes but spruces them up to be quite fancy and impressive. His menu is varied and feels like a mix of American and French cuisine in an accessible format. All his videos (I think) as self-recorded and you never see more than his hands. They're one video per thing and sticks to the point which makes it easy to follow along. Also, he talks over the video with little tips like "If you don't have self-raising flour at home you can just use ...jada jada".

All of his recipes are mirrored on his blog which I often have opened on my iPhone right on the kitchen counter, trying to replicate what I've watched.

An extra bonus is that he's got a quirky style and sense of humor that my wife also likes so she usually joins in watching his videos.

Number 3: America's Test Kitchen

America's Test Kitchen

I have to admit that I still haven't really understood what this corporation is. There's Cook's Country which spans "America's Test Kitchen", "Cook's Illustrated", "cook's science". I used to watch their show on PBS, led by Christhoer Kimball, and although it was good, it was a bit too time consuming for the impatient me.

Either way, the main America's Test Kitchen YouTube channel is quite focussed on kitchen equipment and cooking techniques. They're wonderful. So many times I've concluded that my (somekitchengadget) isn't great, then I check their videos and then I go straight to Amazon and buy it. Last item was the di Oro Living - Large Silicone Spatula.

Their kitchen equipment testing is rigorous. When they talk about all the hard core testing they've done to pots, pans, cutting boards, knives, bowls etc. you get that comforting sense that if you do take their advice and buy the thing, it's really going to be the best there is. It's the same with some of their more "dry" videos about empirical testing of cooking techniques. For example, "The Secrets of Cooking Rice". You watch it once, try to remember what you learned, and how you can walk around knowing this is thee way to do something. QED.

Number 4: Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay

Beyond swear words and putdowns, if there's one thing you can learn from Gordon is is passion for food. Like a naturally genius salesman he can think up the most wonderfully positive words for the ingredients, the smells, the tastes and the foods aesthetics. The passion is contagious!

I never actually watched any of his shows that got him famous. It's "too TV" for my taste. Too much aggression and better-than-you. But beyond that, his videos are impressive. It's also a nice to have in that he makes you think you can cook all that fancy stuff from fancy restaurants you can't afford to go to.

Some of the things he cooks might be a bit more advanced for my skillset (and time!) but there are lots of nuggets of "panache" that you can tuck away in the back of your brain.

By the way Gordon, I have not signed up for your online cooking courses because, basically, this blog post. There's just too much good content from other chefs' channels. Sorry.

Number 5: Jamie Oliver's Food Tube

Jamie Oliver

I've always been a big Jamie Oliver fan. His Jamie's Food Revolution (called "Ministry of Food" in the UK) is probably the book I've used the most in the last couple of years. He's got that impressive and contagious passion for food an ingredients. He's funny and accessible, and his cooking is quite advanced and grand. Some recipes are that extra big of extravagance that a home cook sometimes needs to spruce things up.

Food Tube is his YouTube channel and it contains lots of videos by other chefs. They almost all have one thing in common; they're as nuts as Jamie. I get the feeling that Jamie recruits people into his channel on "Can you be more hyper than me?".

In all fairness some videos are almost too hyper. You get a bit flustered by the high pace and flamboyance and you struggle to take notes. But when it gets a bit too intense I just watch it with the practical part of my brain switched off, just to get inspired.

Number 6: The Dumpling Sisters

Dumpling Sisters

I don't really get it, if they are part of Jamie Oliver's Food Tube or not. Some videos have the name in it. Some don't. Doesn't matter much. These ladies are wonderful. It's probably one my more in-accessible channels because most of their cooking is Asian (Chinese style) and although it's mouthwatering and something I could easily devour with a pair of chopsticks, many things become hard to cook due to ingredients. I live in a suburban community in South Carolina and we don't have one of those, good, Asian supermarkets around here. I guess I could order some of the things online but it's not so easy.

Having said that, their "Perfect Special Fried Rice" is a favorite of mine. I've probably cooked it, in variations, almost 10 times now. Always a hit!

Even though I, admittedly, am failing at my Chinese cooking, I do like this channel to keep me inspired and dreaming about going back to China and learn more about its large cuisine. Gotta have something that reminds me of all the delicious weird and wonderful I've had there.

Number 7: Cupcake Jemma

Cupcake Jemma

I'll be honest; I've never attempted anything of the stuff she bakes. First of all, I almost never bake. And if I do it's either Swedish style cakes or loafs of bread. But there's just something about Jemma. She's so charming and "cute". I know cupcakes are serious business to a lot of people but I actually don't really like cupcakes. However, watching her videos does make you think "some day, I'll attempt that".

If it's one thing I've learned from watching her videos, it's that a lot of baking requires vanilla extract. She uses almost as much vanilla extract as Jamie Oliver uses olive oil.

Also, as mentioned before, someone having passion for what they're cooking is inspiring and contagious. Her videos are so cheerful and colorful it's almost like a free injection of happiness.

Number 8: Kitchen Conundrums with Joseph Thomas

Thomas Joseph

This isn't a channel. The link above is a playlist. I think his videos are part of Everyday Food which is something I haven't explored yet.

His videos are nice because he breaks down things into small easy-to-understand parts. He's also good at showing how to do certain actions. Like, which pot to use when and how to poor it etc. It's quite advanced stuff (but not all!) but I did manage to make French Macaroons from his video. The didn't have that perfect shape you get in a nice bakery but it actually turned out pretty well.

My only criticism is that his kitchen is too neat. Makes my look like a battlefield in comparison.

Rounding Up

Come to think of it, these are the only YouTube cooking channels I follow. Occassionally YouTube recommends other awesome stuff (based on their recommendation engine) that I watch but don't necessarily subsribe. The ordering above is kinda silly (apart from Kenji being my number 1 at the moment). They're all good!

I'm not a great chef. I don't have that "magic" of being able to smell my way into which seasonings to add mid-way. Nor do I immediately just know what to do with all sorts of veggies I see in the supermarket. But I try. I have more cookbooks now than I have years to live and, clearly, I watch a lot of inspiring cooking videos. Very little of what I learn seems to stick in my memory, but YouTube's search engine and my watch history has proven to be my way of memorizing recipes and techniques.

Please please please, share your thoughts and tips about other channels I should check out. Not that these channels aren't keeping me busy but I'm always curious to add more.

How to identify/classify what language a piece of text is

09 August 2016 0 comments   Python, Misc. links


Suppose you have a piece of text but you don't know what language it is. If you speak English and the text looks English, it's easy. But what about "Den snabba bruna räven hoppar över den lata hunden" or "haraka kahawia mbweha anaruka juu ya mbwa wavivu" or "A ligeira raposa marrom ataca o cão preguiçoso"? Can you guess?

MeaningCloud can guess. They have a Language Identification API that you can use for free. Their freemium plan allows for 40,000 API requests per month.

So to get started, you have to register, verify your email and sig in to get your "license key". Now when you have that you simply use it like this:

>>> import requests
>>> url = 'http://api.meaningcloud.com/lang-1.1'
>>> payload={'key': 'b49....................ee',
... 'txt': 'Den snabba bruna räven hoppar över den lata hunden'}
>>>
>>> requests.post(url, data=payload).json()
{'status': {'remaining_credits': '39999', 'credits': '1', 'msg': 'OK', 'code': '0'}, 'lang_list': ['sv', 'da', 'no', 'es']}
>>>

If you look at the lang_list list, the first one is sv for Swedish.

If you want the full name of a language code, look it up in the "ISO 639-1 Code" table.

Let's do the other ones too:

>>> payload['txt'] = 'A ligeira raposa marrom ataca o cão preguiçoso'
>>> # Portugese
>>> requests.post(url, data=payload).json()
{'status': {'remaining_credits': '39998', 'credits': '1', 'msg': 'OK', 'code': '0'}, 'lang_list': ['pt', 'ro']}
>>> payload['txt'] = 'haraka kahawia mbweha anaruka juu ya mbwa wavivu'
>>> # Swahili
>>> requests.post(url, data=payload).json()
{'status': {'remaining_credits': '37363', 'credits': '1', 'msg': 'OK', 'code': '0'}, 'lang_list': ['sw']}

The service isn't perfect. It struggles on shorter texts using non-western alphabet. But it's pretty easy to use and delivers pretty good results.

UPDATE

Note! If you intend to do this in bulk and you have access to Python and NLTK use this script instead.

I tried it on my nltk install and I have 14 languages that it can detect.

UPDATE 2

A much better solution than NLTK is guess_language-spirit. It's superfast and I spotchecked a bunch of its outputs and put the non-English text into Google Translate and a it almost always gets it right.

Newsletters I enjoy for work

03 March 2015 0 comments   Misc. links


I'm a web engineer (aka. web developer) and I try my best to keep up with the latest and greatest in my field without minimal effort. I need good resources that pack a big bunch but doesn't take all day to digest.

Here are the newsletters I enjoy and almost depend on for my work (in no particular order):

  1. ng-newsletter
    "The free, weekly newsletter of the best AngularJS content on the web." Comes once a week with about 5 or so links to articles about AngularJS.

  2. Pycoder's Weekly
    "Your weekly dose of all things Python!" A mix of recent new projects that have become available on PyPI or GitHub. Also always a nice list of 3-6 articles revolving around Python.

  3. Web Development Reading List
    "A handcrafted, carefully selected list of web development related resources." Topics are usually split up by News, Generic/Tools, Web Performance, HTML/SVG, Javascript and CSS/Sass. Very high quality despite there being lots of links.

  4. The Changelog Weekly
    "Open Source moves fast. Keep up." They have a podcast too which comes out, I think, once a week too. The topics here are highly technical but often more broader and rather "about the tech" as opposed to "how the tech". They have a crips separation of curated content and sponsored content.

  5. Go Newsletter
    "A weekly newsletter about the Go programming language" This one I'm quite new to. It's jampacked with links to projects and articles.

  6. Explore GitHub
    It's configurable. I have it sent to me on a weekly basis. I get two sections "Trending repositories this week" and "Starred by people you follow this week". It's basically just links to GitHub projects. No articles or curated content. I guess it's maybe not a newsletter but it's so useful that I just have to include it.

Which ones do you depend on/love that I should consider?

My favorite YouTube channels

11 March 2014 0 comments   Misc. links


I do not deny it. I'm a YouTube fiend. I very rarely watch YouTube on my computer but a lot on my Apple TV and only tablet. It's

Here are some of my favorite YouTube channels that I subscribe to and encourage you to do the same if you aren't already and if there's something it appears you'll like too.

MinutePhysics

1. MinutePhysics

They started as clips that were around 1 minute but are now of variable length. I just adore Henry's voice and the topics he chooses. The animations are cute and even though seasoned with silly cat and dog references they really help to explain some of the most advanced subjects in physics.

Incidentally, this was the first channel I subscribed to once I figured that's the best way to get recurring content from channels I really liked.



Numberphile

2. Numberphile

This is a Brady Haran production that speaks directly to my mathematical aspirations. These aspirations aren't to solve any complex calculus problems but to keep that almost mystic infatuation alive I have with mathematics. There's something wonderfully down to earth and kind about the content which challenge you without patronizing you. By the way, my favorite interviewee, James Grime has his own channel now called singingbanana and also, by the way, and amazingly unattractive website.



Veritasium

3. Veritasium

Derek Muller is a brilliant video maker. Most of his videos are about science and it's mainly Derek holding his camera at arms length filming his pleasant face and talking about the perception or understanding of science. More so than the science itself. Actually some videos are not about how people (miss)understand science but speak directly to you and those are just brilliant. Usually sufficiently advanced to really get reallying thinking hard.



CGP Grey

4. CGP Grey

The only, of my top favorite channels, that is not about natural science. These videos are on social science subjects you might never have thought to think about and not only that, but each and every one digs deep and misses very few facts. Similarly to SciShow, these videos require your full attention. Because what you learn from them is often so very valuable, I've revisited many videos. Some more than twice.



MinuteEarth

5. MinuteEarth

This is Henry Reich's (see above about MinutePhysics) second channel and the name of the channels fully describes what the videos are about. The animations are really magnificantly simple and rich at the same time. The subject matters in this videos are generally less advanced that those in MinutePhysics but often full of really interesting factoids to keep up your sleeve for dinner parties.



SciShow

6. SciShow

Hang Green is a gem! His geeky and passionate mannerisms is worth it just on its own. But you have to pay full attention because Hank speaks very fast. There is though an important undertone that isn't immediately obvious. There is this feeling of deeply researched facts. Even though you only understand a small part of it all (not to mention how little you remember!) it's inspiring that someone takes the time to do all the research.
A lot of subject matters are science oriented but more popular sciencey.



Sixty Symbols

7. Sixty Symbols

Another Brady Haran production, but this time more about physics and than Numberphile which is more about mathematics. Almost all videos are Brady interviewing doctors and professors in physics at the University of Nottingham. All very humble and approachable interviewees that, perhaps thanks to Brady's brilliant questions, the subjects are understandable but also very exciting because they're usually on matters that are very advanced and something more to look forward to than to enjoy in the moment.



PHD Comics

8. Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics)

This is a newcomer and I include it because they're of such high quality and adorable animations. To be honest I don't think I really understand what the various videos have in common. For example, one recent video is on quantum entanglement and another on the Dead Sea scrolls. Either way, every video is professional and highly enjoyable.



There are more channels I subscribe to and enjoy very much but the above list are my favorite ones. For example, I watch Jamie Oliver's Food Tube videos just as often but that's somehow more "obvious".

Actually I have many more channels on science and a bunch of computers and programming but I'm just simply not as passionate about them as I are with the channels mentioned above.

I really hope that by writing this it will inspire one or two fellow science nerdy readers to also discover some of the channels mentioned here.

Beach volleyball bums

02 August 2012 2 comments   Misc. links

http://www.metro.us/newyork/sports/article/1148979--what-if-every-olympic-sport-was-photographed-like-beach-volleyball


Bums
My good friend @jonanmary brought this very amusing tweet to my attention:

I know you've all seen this, but it's awesome anyway: Photographing other sports like beach volleyball metro.us/newyork/sports...
#olympics

FIVB

That's brilliant! The thing is, if you didn't already know it, beach volleyball gals are mandated to wear those speedos looking things they wear. What's even more funny is something another good friend, @trollkip on twitter point:

@jonanmary @peterbe out of interest, earlier, I looked up who makes these rules. Governing body: fivb.org/EN/FIVB/Board_ Yeah.

UPDATE

Apparently, the rule about what beach volleyball players have to wear changed recently
I love me some tanned sexy lady-skin but don't be an asshole about it. Let her choose.

Cateechee golf pictures

27 September 2011 0 comments   Misc. links

http://joshziff.smugmug.com/Friends/Cateechee-Golf-2011/


Cateechee golf pictures My friend Josh Ziff has uploaded pictures from the little golf tournament (we played scrambles) at Cateechee in Hartwell, Georgia a couple of weeks ago.

Check out the pictures here

Chinese tea sampler pack now on sale

16 June 2011 0 comments   Misc. links

http://www.minrivertea.com/teas/chinese-tea-sampler-pack/


Chinese tea sampler pack now on sale My good friend Chris who runs the Min River Tea Farm has this week launched a new product: Sampler Pack Chinese tea

This is brilliant because if you, like me, love some good green teas but don't want to buy a whole bag yet, then get a cute little sampler and decide which of his teas you like the most. Or, for £9 you can buy a couple of these cute little tubs and give away as gifts. That's what I'm going to do.

At the moment you have to be in Europe to be able to order these (delivery done by Amazon UK) but if you're outside of Europe ping them and ask if something can be arrange.

Google teething problems still with duplicated content

03 June 2011 0 comments   Misc. links


Google teething problems still with duplicated content Since Google doesn't really have a bug tracker where I can report bugs I blog about it instead.

Here's a typical example that Google's strife to get rid of duplicate content still needs some work. About 10 different mailing list archive sites have indexed the same email thread. Not very helpful.

I just ordered tea from the Min River Tea Farm

27 February 2011 0 comments   Misc. links

http://www.minrivertea.com/


I just ordered tea from the Min River Tea Farm I just ordered myself one bag of Jasmine Pearls from The Min River Tea Farm that my friend Chris has recently launched.

As soon as I get my tea I'm going to take a picture of myself drinking it and send in my pic so that £1 gets donated, by Chris, to the Mind UK charity.

If you live in the UK and love genuine sourced Chinese teas do check it out. The ordering process is lovingly easy and safe. Although I'm an Earl Grey fan myself, I love having some good jasmine tea available at home without having to worry about the caffeine in Earl Grey tea keeping me awake.

Best of luck to Chris and his new site! Please take the time to browse and read about his teas. If you're outside the UK and you want a bag, just send him and email.

Worst Flash site of the year 2010

08 November 2010 2 comments   Misc. links

http://industrialpainter.com/


Worst Flash site of the year 2010 If you ever wonder, how do I make a website that is just wrong on every front: Turn up your volume and tune into http://industrialpainter.com/ Oh yeaaaahhh...

It's got it all.