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Monday, June 13, 2011

Drinking Chefs: Not your average Internet cooking show

A few months ago, we did a story on the young woman behind the My Drunk Kitchen videos, Hannah Hart. We were charmed by her slurred descriptions of ingredients and heartfelt words of wisdom, like, "always use a butter knife, for everything," and, "don't make a mess. That's rude."

But little did we know that Hart isn't the only one who enjoys cooking while drunk (and filming herself for all the Internet to see). As it turns out, she has two apron-clad Southern predecessors, the inebriated masterminds behind Drinking Chefs.

The idea for the website began a few years ago, when Alabama natives Marla Graves and Megann Rogala made a drunken pact to start a cooking show. They had eaten several homemade brandy balls and drank far too much of the brandy that went into them, and at the time, the idea seemed brilliant. They didn't think much about their promise for about a year after that, but then Graves bought a nice camera and her husband agreed to be a cameraman. Inspired, she decided to act on their idea.

"My husband and I showed up at Megann's house (she has a much better kitchen for the concept), and we took a shot, or seven, for courage, and we made fried turkey legs," she said.

Thus, the first episode of Drinking Chefs was born. Now, the website has 31 episodes, featuring dishes from hummus to lobster to some rather unappetizing pecan clusters, which look a bit like little poops from someone who recently ingested a large amount of wax paper (the beer wrote more of that episode, as the caption warns) but which I'm sure tasted delicious.

The chefs say they drink a lot before filming - they shoot whiskey before each show and continue drinking until the filming's done - but they're not nearly as visibly intoxicated as Hart is in her videos. Which is impressive, because they complete three to five episodes in one filming, so that's three to five recipes and around eight or nine ours of drinking. Yikes. But they're always funny and enthusiastic, donning various colorful cooking aprons and beginning every video with a emphatic "Lobster!" or "Chile rellenos!" depending on what they're cooking that day.

And, besides maybe the pecan clusters, the recipes are actually things you'd want to make - that Jack Daniels ice cream sounds delicious. Graves comes from a line of self-taught cooks and Rogala's father is a chef, so the recipes come from family traditions that the women take and tweak into something all their own. And somehow, in spite of the alcohol, they usually end up carrying the recipes out into something awesome looking.

Fruit tart cheesecake from Drinking Chefs

Neither Rogala nor Graves is in the cooking industry, but they say in a perfect world they'd love to do the show full time (though maybe not be drunk full time). They've enjoyed making friends with other Youtube cooking shows, and have recently stumbled across Hart's videos. Their pecan clusters video is featured on Funny or Die, and they hope their site will continue to grow in popularity. If it doesn't, though, they'll be happy anyway.

"If all it ends up being is a great site where people are able to watch, laugh and learn, then I think we have done something amazing no matter what," Rogala said.

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