Published on December 12th, 2019 | by Percy Crawford0
One-On-One With New Orleans Chef, Charlie “The Cook” Andrews
New Orleans chef takes us into the kitchen to discuss his successful YouTube channel.
New Orleans is the home of jazz music, second lines, Mardi Gras, Saints and its delicious food. When it comes to food, some of the greatest cooks were born and bred in Louisiana. Charlie Andrews first gained popularity 4 years ago when he posted a YouTube video giving a step by step account of how he makes his famous gumbo. The video is up to 419,000 views, and his popularity much like his dishes, have grown a significant amount since then. With over 250 videos uploaded to his page of some of his amazing cuisines taking center stage. Even a beginner in the kitchen could follow along and immolate his dishes. Andrews also has 129,000 subscribers tuned-in to see what the next dish will be.
During a recent conversation, Andrews opens up about his YouTube page, gives advice to beginners as well as other do’s and don’ts while cooking his recipes.
When did you first realize that you had a gift and talent in the kitchen?
Charlie Andrews: I never sort of looked at it that way to be honest. As a child growing up, I always tried to cook for myself, but I never really looked at it as a talent. It was just something that I liked to do.
It’s definitely a talent. What made you post your first YouTube video, and do you remember what dish you posted?
Charlie Andrews: I remember my first YouTube video was the crawfish pasta video. I don’t know the reason as to why I posted it. I just created the video the best way that I could and just uploaded it to YouTube. I had already had plans on starting a YouTube channel. Actually, back in January of 2013, I was supposed to start it, but eventually it got pushed back to May and that’s it.
A 128,000 subscribers later and some videos north of 400,000 views, did you ever think it would become this big?
Charlie Andrews: No, I’m actually pretty shocked by it. Especially from when I first started in the beginning. When I first started it, I started it as an experiment. It was like, I’m going to do cooking videos to help people out. I didn’t look at it as something like how it is now. I just looked at it as a hobby; something I was going to do every once in a while. I didn’t expect this at all period.
It actually feels really good that people see and appreciate the work that I put into my videos. The gumbo video is one of the main videos that put me on the map. At that time when I did that video… oh my goodness. At that time my computer broke and I had some issues with that. So, I had released it a couple of months later. I just didn’t think anything of it. I never thought it would ever get to this point, but I’m very grateful for it.
Would you advise for or against tweaking your recipes?
Charlie Andrews: I do get some comments from people about tweaking this or that. “I did your recipe, but I tried it this way or that way.” Most of the time I do recommend that people do what the recipe says; especially if it’s your first time making it. You don’t want to try something for the first time and then you mess up and next thing you know, you gonna be blaming me for it (laughing). There are quite a few issues with that because people sometimes in the comments section will say something like, “It didn’t come out right.” And I say, “Well, what ingredients did you use?” The recipe will call for cake flour, “Well, I did use all-purpose flour. I did use this kind of brand.” And I’m like, ‘Well, I don’t think you should have done that.”
I love the fact that you start your videos by showing everything you’re going to need for that particular dish. It makes store runs a lot easier.
Charlie Andrews: Long time ago, before I even started doing the YouTube channel, I did small lil cooking videos; a couple of videos I did in 2010. In those cooking videos, I put all the ingredients on the table. It was just something I came up with. Just put all the ingredients and the brands right there from the beginning.
What is your simple go-to meal when you don’t want to fix anything elaborate or time consuming?
Charlie Andrews: I don’t necessarily have a go-to meal like that. But I’ll use this as a prime example, when I did my first YouTube video, the crawfish pasta, it was easy. It was simple. It would probably be something like that.
You would be amazed how difficult that crawfish pasta would be for some people (laughing).
Charlie Andrews: (Laughing), you’re right about that.
When I first started watching your videos, I noticed right away that you didn’t use a lot of black pepper. I even inboxed you about it. For people that have my same curiosity, why the lack of black pepper use in your dishes?
Charlie Andrews: To be honest, I never really cared for using black pepper. I think it had a lot to do with… like my sister, one time she put black pepper in macaroni and cheese, and I just didn’t like the taste of it. And my grandmother at one point, she used to put black pepper in a lot of her dishes. The taste was great, it was just something about it that I never really cared for it. Even in some of my newer videos, I try to use more black pepper.
I actually made your homemade chicken noodle soup recently, and I was shocked to see the use of black pepper.
Charlie Andrews: (Laughing). And how was the chicken noodle soup.
It came out great as always. When my daughter got her second bowl, I knew it was a winner. She is my litmus test. She doesn’t have an appetite for much.
Charlie Andrews: Wow! That’s good to hear.
Being that you’re such a great cook, do you enjoy other people’s cooking?
Charlie Andrews: I have never really tried too many people’s cooking at all. Only people I have tried is my relatives. Most of them cook good. Other than that, I never really had any major issues. You know what… I’m going to take that back. You know in New Orleans we have this thing called, “supper plates,” where there are certain things on a plate for a certain price and I ran into some issues with those. I take one bite and it’s like, “Okay, that doesn’t really taste good.” I did have one recently that was good.
We share something in common and it’s rare. I also don’t like chicken in my jambalaya. I have no idea why, it’s just not something I enjoy, so when I found your video with the tasso ham, I have been making your recipe since.
Charlie Andrews: I don’t know why I don’t like it either. To be honest with you, it had to take for me to make the jambalaya with chicken before I actually started liking it. I had it a couple of times at a job I used to work at, I had it at school. For some reason, I never liked the jambalaya with the chicken in it. It really took for me to actually make it myself for me to actually start liking it. That’s like with another dish called, Yakamein. When my relatives made it, I never liked it. But when I finally made it, I was like, “Okay, I like it.”
When I travel and people find out I’m from Louisiana, they point me towards a dish that I need to taste. For whatever reason outsiders feel like “Louisiana flavor,” is just super spicy, when in all actuality it’s not that at all.
Charlie Andrews: I don’t know why people feel as though our food is just spicy. Not everybody from down here like their food spicy. I’m not really sure why they think that. Maybe when the tourist come down here and go to restaurants, they offer a spicy version of everything and they try it, and it makes them want to cook it like that. I don’t know. I watched one video where they put some season all on top of the crawfish and it doesn’t make sense to do that. The shell is the throw away.
Any advice you would give to someone finding their way around the kitchen or trying to become a chef or just learn how to cook better?
Charlie Andrews: There is quite of a bit of advice that I could share. As far as the cooking aspect of things, if they are trying to learn about a certain recipe or something like that, I think the best advice is to read about it first before going to watch anybody’s YouTube videos. People do YouTube videos and they may do something that might not be 100% authentic to the actual recipe. I would definitely tell anybody that if you want to get into the cooking business, it’s really important to educate yourself. Read about dishes and cuisines and stuff like that. That’s how I have become such a great cook because I read and studied different dishes.
Cooking dishes from scratch is a lot of hard work. To create a dish, there are a lot of different things that you have to do. It’s like 5-different dishes that you have to do to make that one dish. It’s definitely a lot of hard work. What I would advise is to first, start everything early, as far as food preparation. It’s always important to start that early, and just go from there. Prep all your food up and tackle it from there. If you happen to make a mistake, mistakes happen, things happen, don’t give up. Just continue going.
Be sure to subscribe to, Charlie Andrews YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUE3YKINuB_q94ix18njx8g