The 2011 CHOW 13

Hannah Hart: Food Video Stars Who Got Famous Online

We've had Internet stars since the dawn of the Web. (Remember Mahir of "I Kiss You!" fame?) And more recently, we've had Web video stars (see Obama Girl). But this was the year of Web food video stars. A vegan black-metal chef recorded a cooking demo of himself in which he made pad thai in corpse makeup—the video has been viewed more than 1.5 million times. A bunch of Canadian dudes who do extremely gross food stunts such as create a lasagne out of cheeseburgers now get recognized on the street. But most famous of them all is Hannah Hart.

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SCULPTED ILLUSTRATION LIZ LOMAX

A 24-year-old translator (Japanese) originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Hart created a hit YouTube cooking-show spoof called My Drunk Kitchen. The premise is exactly as the name suggests: She makes some kind of food—or tries to—while getting drunk, keeping up a jokey patter punctuated by frenetic jump cuts.

The appeal isn't the food she's cooking, which more often than not involves little more than opening packages. It's Hart's persona: cool slacker geek, complete with glasses, self-deprecating humor, and real comic timing. In one episode, she tries to make ice cream without an ice cream maker, using a gallon plastic bag and salt (a common technique espoused by none other than Harold McGee), but she admits she only has a sandwich baggie. "According to my method of science, that just means it'll be more concentrated in taste and, also, a lot faster," she deadpans.

Hart never meant to be a cooking show host. Her first video was a joke for a friend that was accidentally discovered by strangers on YouTube. The unexpected warm reception she got encouraged Hart to run with it. Now she's made 10 episodes, has over 40,000 followers on Twitter (@harto), and has quit her day job to become an entertainer full time. Will you be seeing her on the Food Network soon? Probably not—Hart's already over the cooking thing. Hey: That's Internet time. —L.A.

What inspired the first episode of My Drunk Kitchen?
It wasn't an episode. I'd moved to New York from San Francisco in January, and I was at my sister's house talking to my old roommate on GChat. She was like, "Dude, man, I miss you, man!" And I was like, "I miss you too!" And I was like, "I'm at Naomi's—I found a free bottle of wine! I'll make dinner and drink it and make a video for you and it'll be just like I'm there with you!" It was intended to be one instance. If I had known it was putting me on the map, maybe I wouldn't have called it "My Drunk Kitchen," ya know?

What was the biggest challenge in doing My Drunk Kitchen?
Cooking. I'm not a cook. I think most of the stuff I made came out pretty bad. That ice cream was pretty inedible. I eat mostly out of cans! I do like to eat out at this place called Cubana Café in Brooklyn on Sixth Avenue too though. The mango chicken is so good. I like citrusy meat.

NEXT: ANDREW MASON