Chef Joshua Weissman Dishes On His New Cookbook, From Scratch Attitude & Culinary Idols

Rest assured: Joshua Weissman won’t lose any sleep if you decide not pick up his new cookbook in the coming weeks. “That’s not a reverse psychology tactic at all,” he tells Forbes Entertainment over the phone. “I really don’t want them to get it if they’re gonna complain about it.”

One might call the 25-year-old YouTube chef — his channel currently boasts nearly five million subscribers — a bad boy of gastronomy. In his own words, Weissman (no relation to yours truly as far as either of us know) is a believer in a “f*** you attitude” that seeks to disrupt the current fad of convenience in the kitchen — from purported life hacks to the notion of one-pot wonders.

“If you want to cook, great,” he says. “The only thing you need to recognize is that cooking takes time, cleaning takes time. Let’s just forget about the whole 20-minute recipes, zero clean-up, one-pot meal. I get why people are doing that, and I think it has its purpose [but] I also think it’s been overrun, and now people are only just focused on convenience.”

That’s where Joshua Weissman: An Unapologetic Cookbook (on sale from Alpha Books Tuesday, Sep. 14) comes in. The assemblage of over 100 recipes constitutes an all-out celebration of culinary delights that encourages the reader to make everything — and Weissman means everything — from scratch.

“It really gets granular to the point of, ‘I don’t want you to use any condiments or anything. You have to make it,’” he explains. “If you get through the first section, you’ll have the skills and the ingredients necessary to move onto the next section. And so on and so forth. A beginner or someone who’s more skilled can cook their way through and they’ll end up a significantly better cook with a new level of respect for cooking.”


This worldview permeates Weissman’s entire YouTube channel, particularly the “But Better” series in which he crafts his own rendition of fast food favorites that look and taste a whole lot better than whatever you can buy off the nearest dollar menu. For Weissman, there’s really no excuse not to try your hand at this stuff in the age of the internet. Not only is it easier to seek out recipes, but the World Wide Web also opens the door for intrepid experimentation with method, flavor, and culture.

“Now that we have Google and have this collective hive mind across food, we’re able to see multiple cultures communicate with each other and create new cultures,” he says. “Just in the same way that people talk about the global economy, there’s now a global food thought process where we’ve been able to combine ingredients — all the way from Korea and then put that together with something in France and then put that together with something in America. Now we have something that never existed before and is an elevated product because of it.”

For those home cooks who tremble at the mere thought of making their own ingredients, Weissman has two pieces of advice.

The first is that you need “to go in with the idea that you’re going to f*** up, and just be ok with it … It’s a part of life. When you ride a bike, you fall over … It’s the same concept [with cooking]. I don’t understand how people can go through these incredible life obstacles, but not be able to cook a f—in’ chicken. You can do it, you’ve been through worse. Just chomp down and get it done.”

It’s a helpful philosophy shared by Weissman’s friend and regular YouTube collaborator, Andrew Rea (the mastermind behind Binging with Babish), whose channel also seeks to peel back the pristine — and sometimes misleading veneer — of traditional cooking shows.

Weissman’s second piece of feedback is repetition, repetition, repetition. “You do things a thousand times and it’s not totally mindless,” he adds. “Each time you’re thinking about it, you tweak it a little bit, you tweak it a little bit. And you get to this point where you find that ultimate sweet spot.”

Take it from a guy who convinced his parents to let him butcher an entire hog at the age of 16. “Most kids are excited about their first car, but I coerced my parents into buying a whole pig for me to break down,” Weissman recalls. “I don’t think my mom knew about it. It was like seven at night, she walks in and I’m [standing there] with a bone saw in my hands, sawing away at this giant pig on the counter. And she was like, ‘I’m…not coming into here until that’s gone.’”

Ironically, it was Joshua’s mother (a native of Texas) who instilled her son with a deep love of food. “She has a very southern-influenced [style of] cooking,” Also, in southern households, I would say cooking is usually a big thing from a cultural perspective,” he continues. “So, cooking was always a part of my life. She brought me in the kitchen when I was probably three or four. I could barely walk and I didn’t do much. I got to brine cranberries for Thanksgiving, but I thought that was just bliss.”

Naturally, Gordon Ramsay also had a profound impact on a young Joshua, who admits that the brusque British chef has been his “North Star” since the age of five. Chef Gordon is definitely at the top of Weissman’s wishlist of personalities with whom he’d like to one day collaborate. While nothing is in the works with Ramsay at the moment, though, Weissman does hope to lock down a near future team-up with the tattooed and flamboyant culinary Canuck, Matty Matheson.

“With him being in Canada and with COVID, it’s been really difficult to even meet, but I think Matty and I have become friends, slowly but surely, over the pandemic — and I’m looking forward to do something with him,” Weissman says. “I’d [also] love to meet Guy Fieri. He’s such a funny guy, and I love what he’s done for the industry. I have a lot of respect for him. And Chef José Andrés is amazing too. He’s done a bunch of amazing things for the industry as well.”

When it comes right down to it, Weissman (whose professional experience includes the position of head cook at Austin’s fine dining Uchiko restaurant) doesn’t really consider himself an interne personality. Rather, he and his production team see YouTube as a way to spread the kitchen gospel.

“YouTube is an outlet for me to put out value for everybody,” he says. “I also see it as a branch of everything that I do … We’re working on a lot of different things, including a restaurant and so many different things that are gonna be built on top of it. [The channel] just ended up being something that’s really fun that people really find valuable and that I enjoy doing. It is a creative outlet for us to test ideas for a future show, which is a big goal for us.”

Joshua is not afraid to hold anyone’s hand if the prospect of cooking terrifies them. Indeed, this parent-like approach has led the chef to refer to himself as “Poppa” in his videos, though he’s not entirely sure where it came from. “I think it’s funny and it probably fits the role. Because everyone always hits me up and is like, ‘What do I do? My pan is on fire.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, you gotta go put it under some running water, buddy.’ It’s sort of like this weird fatherly poppa role, so I don’t mind it.”

So go ahead: try and tackle the branzino with coconut broth or the cinnamon toast or even the sourdough bread. And don’t worry if you mess it up the first few times. “You will eventually just cook regularly after that if you start repeating that,” Weissman concludes. “Because you’re gonna want to.”

You can pre-order the standard edition of Joshua Weissman: An Unapologetic Cookbook right here. In addition, Barnes & Noble is offering a special limited edition with several bonus pages not found in the regular version.

The Tycoon Herald