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Joshua Weissman isn’t interested in easy, one-pot meals. The aversion to speed and convenience may seem anachronistic for a chef whose most popular videos on TikTok often involve him almost aggressively slapping ingredients into bowls as he whisks, slices and dices with the energy of someone who clearly loves what he’s doing, creating the illusion that the recipes are quick — and daresay fun — to make.
But with his latest offering, An Unapologetic Cookbook, Weissman — who has 5.8 million followers on TikTok and 5.3 million subscribers on YouTube — is slowing down the process and encouraging readers and home cooks to embrace the complicated process of learning how to properly cook. Nearly half of the book, which became a New York Times best-seller after its publication in September, comprises foundational recipes on basics like making stock, butter, jam and a variety of cheeses, as well as starters for starches like sourdough bread, flour tortillas, English muffins and bagels.
And while some may roll their eyes at the concept of churning their own butter, Weissman doesn’t really care. He just wants readers to have a better appreciation of what it takes to create good food — and how the process requires some trial and error.
“The reality is, you just can’t get around the fact that cooking will take time,” Weissman tells The Hollywood Reporter over Zoom. “I want to force people into feeling comfortable with that fact so that they can breathe in, breathe out [and say], ‘OK, let’s make something.’”
Weissman acknowledges the polarity between the message in his cookbook and the effect of his TikTok and YouTube videos. For the chef, social media is a way to play the long game, to encourage a “slow burn” in viewers and burgeoning cooks to have an appreciation for the craft.
“I’m in no position to try and convince someone to cook or to convince somebody that I’m right about it. I don’t care if they think I’m right. If anything, I just want them to be entertained by it and then after they watch a few videos and start consuming more regularly, they tend to just lean more toward it.… And eventually, they start to feel comfortable with that idea, they start to enjoy the fact that it takes time, they start to appreciate it more. Maybe they don’t cook at all. Maybe they never cook, but they watch it and then they go to cooler restaurants and they think about food more intellectually,” Weissman says. “To me, that’s a positive raise of the bar, even if they don’t cook.”
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