Like most people, I spent most of the pandemic on my phone. And since I love watching food videos, it was no wonder Beryl Shereshewsky popped up on my recommendations. Three minutes into the first video, I was sold. And now, I watch her videos almost every week and love every minute of it. Here’s why you would, too:
1. Berly Shereshewsky: the mastermind
Meet Beryl Shereshewsky (pronounced “share-uh-shev-ski”). She is a New Yorker with an adventurous palate who decided to use her love of food as a window to the world. Formerly employed as a producer at Great Big Story, a media house, she had to leave when the company closed down during the COVID-19 economic crisis. She then launched her own YouTube channel. She aimed to highlight “the importance of storytelling, of being a storyteller, and particularly highlighting people whose stories weren’t necessarily being told.”
2. The stories
The concept behind the channel is that Beryl recreates dishes sent in by her viewers from different parts of the world. A brief clip of the viewers narrating the recommended recipe is also featured. Each episode surrounds a single theme, usually an ingredient, and explores its various interpretations across the globe. Beryl’s viewers send her recipes and share how they discovered them and their experiences with the food. This makes for a fascinating addition because these individuals often reveal an emotional link to the food.
The stories are as diverse as her viewers themselves, involving pregnancies, college, migration, and other distinct situations. Her episode titled “Cooking with Moms Around the World” is what I would call ‘wholesomeness in video format’. Beryl’s guests’ narrations remind us time and again of the ability of food to connect people across time and space. For example, in one video around strawberries (added below), it turned out that the similarity between the Ukrainian version and the Mexican Mennonite version of a dish suggested a common historical origin. Such discoveries are integral to the global community of food lovers Beryl has inadvertently started to build. It was particularly poignant when the London-based recipe-sender of Ukrainian origin claimed that cooking helped her cope with the political crisis in her homeland.
3. The recipes
Beryl’s subscribers send in traditional recipes unique to their region and mostly unknown in the global sense. These recipes are not all commercially viable and therefore, people from other cultures would not know them. While others before her have appropriated a culture’s flavours to fit their palates, Beryl delights in the idiosyncrasies of each culture. She lists the ingredients and links the recipes for the food she showcases, making it accessible to those who want to make it. Beryl is also honest about any substitutes or makeshift techniques that she uses. In instances where she does not have access to a traditional ingredient or cooking equipment native to an ethnicity, she clearly explains how she still made it work.
4. The culture
The channel is actually a continuation of something Beryl Shereshewsky had started on Great Big Story before it went under. It covers food categories like soups, breakfasts, rice dishes, and such from all over the world. As more voices like Uncle Roger or Vincenzo’s Plate emerge in protest against Western interpretations of BIPOC food, Beryl merely highlights and seeks to preserve foods from world cultures. In particular, her concern is those in danger of being erased or misinterpreted. For instance, in ‘How the World Celebrates Ramadan,’ (shown below) Beryl celebrates iftar food. There’s a “huge lack of positive Muslim representation in the media in general,” she says while sharing a montage of Muslims from Canada, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Algeria, Jordan, and the US. She also explains the virtues of caring, patience, and community that the month signifies.
5. The community
By taking her viewers’ inputs to a global audience, Beryl Shereshewsky documents the evolution of ingredients worldwide. Once rare or impossible to find in some parts of the world, many foods are now becoming available in the global market. We see this evidently in Beryl’s special series within her channel called “Community Videos,” in which she captures universal food experiences (like breakfast or grocery shopping) across the world.
6. The ‘mukbang’ and ‘reaction’ appeal
If you’re not one to appreciate recipe videos and the backend of how the dish got onto your plate, fret not. Some of the best moments are when Beryl relishes the cooked result. Beryl is an observant taster, pointing out different levels of the flavour profile as they hit her. Almost in the neighbourhood of Masterchef’s cravat-wearing Matt Preston, you could say, if you’re feeling generous. But less technical and more like a friend with whom you’re hanging out. This relaxing mukbang-esque quality (which may as well have been YouTube’s mascot at one point) is sure to reel in those who detest kitchen labour. There is also the element of ‘reaction’ (yet another YouTube classic) in these videos. So if reaction videos float your boat, this is your show, too.
Some bonus aspects of the channel
- The channel also features YouTube shorts with fun food facts that are pretty fascinating.
- Most episodes showcase a featured artist. Their works hang behind the YouTuber as she talks and eats her way through the video. Her appreciation of good artwork is just as eclectic as her palate and, therefore, features a wide range of forms. It has also led me to discover some of my favourite artists, like Shailandra Jadeja, Aditya Lavanya and her mother, Meera Bai P., Kate Powell, and Halima Washington-Dixon.
- She also acknowledges the unsavoury side of food, bravely experimenting with foods that generally get a bad rap.
All this to say, if you love food and good times, definitely check out Beryl Shereshewsky on YouTube. If you already have, let us know your thoughts.