Cookin’ with charisma
A student-produced cooking show on YouTube touts cheap and healthy home-cooked meals
When UGA student Arthur King went home for Thanksgiving last year, he cooked in good company. King grew up on Southern meals, but that holiday he stirred it up with the mother of butter and collards, Paula Deen.
“I walked in while they were filming, and she just said, ‘Put on a microphone,’” says King, a junior food industry marketing major from Savannah.
Not just anyone can waltz into Paula Deen’s studio and strap on an apron. Southern hospitality aside, King was warmly welcomed because he had started his own cooking show at age 19.
In February of 2010 King prepared a meal for longtime girlfriend Kira Glasser and joked that he should host a cooking show.
“I told him he should really do it,” says Glasser, a junior from Savannah.
“She asked what I would call it, and ‘Cooking for College’ was the first thing that popped into my head,” King says. “Then I took off the ‘g’ ’cause we’re Southern.”
Glasser took him at his word and went straight to work brainstorming recipes, borrowing her dad’s digital camera and filming the first episode. Within a week, King’s offhanded joke became a YouTube-based show.
He and Glasser decided to cater “Cookin’ for College” toward students with small budgets and limited kitchen experience.
“He’s not just cooking for us anymore,” Glasser says. “Now people like me who don’t know how to cook get to watch him too.”
With few culinary skills to offer, Glasser took charge of public relations in addition to filming and editing. She contacted every college publication she could think of, and students from all over the country began requesting interviews and sharing King’s videos with friends.
“I was an art history major, but after I started doing this people said, ‘You know that’s a major right?’” Glasser says. “I had just never thought about it before.”
Now a public relations major, Glasser has reeled in publicity ranging from the Athens Banner-Herald to “Fox and Friends Morning Show.” But her promotional skills would only have gone so far if it weren’t for King’s charisma and culinary chops.
“He’s one of those people who really gets excited about all of this,” she says.
“I’ve always cooked for fun,” says King. “My dad’s whole family is in the restaurant business, so I kind of picked it up from them.”
For King, the challenge of creating new recipes is the most enjoyable part of cooking.
“I get an idea, research it a little bit and try it out,” he says. “We usually experiment with a recipe for the first time when we film.”
King doesn’t just try new recipes on camera. He hosts every show without a script, and Glasser films them in one take. After King sets up the ingredients, it takes as long to film an episode as it does to make a meal.
In the past year, King and Glasser have filmed 45 episodes of “Cookin’ for College.” King prepares traditional recipes, like sausage and hash browns, but many of his meals are less conventional.
“My favorite thing he makes are grilled cheese hamburgers,” Glasser says. Other crowd favorites are s’more pancakes and teriyaki pork chops wrapped in bacon.
King has creative recipes to spare, but some viewers expressed a desire for healthy options as well. His first healthy show featured spinach and mushroom quesadillas, per the request of a vegetarian student. The recipe went over so well that a Weight Watchers panel in Savannah asked King to prepare it in front of them.
“When I finished it was zero points,” he says, referencing the Weight Watchers method of counting calories.
King and Glasser have received more professional and student feedback than they ever expected, but the future of “Cookin’ for College” is hazy beyond their graduation from UGA.
But regardless of what the future holds for King’s career, he knows he wants to work with food. He might even pursue a lifelong dream of opening a restaurant. For now, he’s committed to his college audience and adds a dash of advice for new chefs.
“Don’t be afraid to make something up,” he says. “Try anything.”
Arthur’s Kitchen Trinity
- A big pot—“You’ll always need one of those.”
- A utility knife—“You need a good utility knife for cleaning chicken and that sort of thing. When we first started I used a steak knife for everything, but that got old fast.”
- A spice rack—“A spice rack is pretty much essential, one of those ones that holds about 15 spices.”
For more about Cookin’ for College, go to http://www.cookinforcollege.com.