IS IT WORTH COOKING? – RICH PASCHALL

Worth It – Food, a review, by Rich Paschall

Buzzfeed Worth It

Last year I reviewed the incredibly popular Buzz Feed and YouTube series Worth It. The show finds its popular hosts, millennials Steven Lim and Andrew Ilnyckyj, traveling to three different restaurants at “drastically different price points.” They taste and review a similar item at each one. Along for the ride (literally) is soundman and cameraman Adam Bianchi, who is often seen in the back seat of the car as they drive to each restaurant. At the end of the episode all three vote on the restaurant that was the most worth it at its price.

Over the past four years, they have produced seven “seasons,” the longest of which was 12 episodes. In 2017 and 2018 they won the Streamy Award (Dick Clark Productions, of course) for the Best Food Series. The show features two young guys interviewing restaurant owners and/or chefs and then sitting down to critique the food as an average person might do. The chemistry between the hosts is largely what makes this work. While many of the shows were filmed in Los Angeles or New York, they have been to other US cities, plus stops in Canada, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea.


Final 2019 episode

With a format such as the one described above, I am sure you can see the problem 2020 has presented to the series. How can you carry on when you can not go out to restaurants to eat? In fact, the hosts and cameraman are keeping their distance from one another. At the end of March, the team put all of Season Seven together for a Worth It Marathon in case you wanted to see one hour and 47 minutes all at once. At the end of May, Andrew and Adam presented some editing magic in the social distancing episode. They cut a new video of Steven and Adam in the car with Andrew as he drove around collecting take-out at three “drastically different price points.”  It’s a 3 dollar take out to a 129 dollar take out. He dropped off the food to the other two and Andrew and Steven reviewed them as always. It was a good concept, but it was not going to sustain a series.

With no end of the social distancing protocols that most people are following to stay safe, Andrew and Adam (remotely) have carried on with a new version of the show, Worth It – Food. Now Andrew will attempt to make in his own kitchen, a dish they have previously enjoyed at one of the restaurants in the series. Andrew picks the dish, interviews the chef from the restaurant online, and then sets out to make the same item himself. In between getting the recipe and making the dish, Andrew shops for the items. Not only does he get to make a restaurant favorite at home, but he also is able to explore “The Fundamentals of Why Something Tastes Good.”

Andrew proved to be an engaging host in the original series. He brings a good dose of curiosity and a heaping measure of humor. And yet, despite the public appearances and the hosting of Worth It and other shows, almost nothing is known about Andrew’s personal life. He is a very private person. Unlike other YouTube stars, he has no presence on other social media platforms. So the fact that he is filming new episodes in his own apartment adds to the level of interest.

Utilizing two stationary cameras, Andrew does his best to recreate the dish that has been described to him in the opening. Since Andrew is not a restaurant chef, consider the challenge the same as if you started out to follow a new recipe. He has been challenged by Adam to make dishes on a different Buzz Feed show, Eating Your Feed. That has not always gone well, but I digress. This time out…well, no spoilers for you. Along the way, you will be able to enjoy his efforts while he discusses (with himself) what he thinks makes the dish taste good.

Also, cut into the show might be some footage they had taken at the restaurant but not used in the original Worth It episode. Andrew’s first attempt is a pie that was not featured on their show. Andrew explains that their restaurant stops might include other dishes we do not see. Yes, they do eat more at the restaurant than the dish they have gone to review.

If this version of the show has staying power, it will be up to Andrew’s interview of the chef at the outset, his presentation of the recipe and the quality of the final product. Like any good cooking show, he is giving you the recipe as he goes along so you can attempt it too. The rebooted series is off to a good start, but hopefully, they will be able to return to the restaurants again this year. In fact, that is the hope we all have.

See also: “The Right Food At The Right Price,” SERENDIPITY, May 26, 2019.