While browsing through my America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook and YouTube videos for a smothered potatoes recipe, I stumbled across videos by Uncle Chris’ The Food Pantry Chef.
Armed with nothing more than a cellphone camera and a package of goodies obtained from a local food pantry, Uncle Chris created his YouTube Food Channel in October 2021. To date he has 48 videos that range from 2 – 20 minutes.
Chris started the videos as a creative way to feed himself and others. “I came up with the idea to do this show because at one point I was homeless and living off the food pantries, and I had to be clever and come up with recipes with the items,” he said. Here’s what else he shared about his granddaddy, the most exciting dish he prepared, and more.
PrideIndex (PI): How many subscribers and views do you have to date?
Uncle Chris (UC): I have 706 subscribers so far and well over 30,000 views.
PI: Tell us about your background. Are you a trained chef? If not, where did you learn to cook?
UC: My grandfather taught me how to cook; he worked in New Orleans at Café Fleur-de-lis. He was also a chef in the army. Granddaddy told me that was the best training you could ever have. I am old school. I used to watch Julia Child with him, and one day he said, “Grandbaby would you like to learn how to cook like that.” I said I sure would. He took me to the kitchen, and the rest is history.
PI: How did you come up with the idea to do this cooking show?
UC: I came up with the idea to do this show because, at one point, I was homeless and living off the food pantries, and I had to be clever and come up with recipes with the items I got in the food basket. One day I was thinking about how I could help others, so I gave it away to other people. Then, I thought I should share this on YouTube. The name came from a friend who joked that we both ate from the food pantry, so I was a food pantry chef. (Laughs)
PI: Do you follow your mom’s recipes, or did you come up with them?
UC: Some of the recipes, like the coleslaw, are from my mom. The other recipes are modifications of what my grandfather taught me, and things I have come up with on my own. Sometimes you won’t get every ingredient from the food pantry. For example, you’re not going to get hollandaise sauce, so instead of making eggs benedict with hollandaise, I made mine with sausage gravy.
PI: How do you decide what to prepare?
UC: I come up with ideas that I know people might like. There are other times when I get suggestions from my viewers on what they want me to fix.
PI: What is the most exciting dish you’ve prepared?
UC: The most exciting dish I’ve made came from reusing old pastries. I made them into a bread pudding and ice cream with my peanut butter honey frosting.
PI: “Uncle Chris” is the first part of your show’s name. Do you cook for your nieces or nephews?
UC: And yes, I am an uncle. I cook for my nephew, the light of my life. My mother died before she could see him grow up. My sister and nephew are all the family I have, and they’re very important to me.
PI: Have you considered adding vegan or veggie offerings? Why or why not?
UC: I do have some vegetarian dishes. I will try to do vegan, but only if the items from the food pantry allow it. Some people cannot afford to purchase the items needed in vegan recipes. I try to stick to the food pantry items as much as possible.
PI: Do you take requests to prepare meals?
UC: I will always take requests for meals. I love when my nieces and nephews make requests. I call my audience my nieces and nephews because I consider them part of my family.
PI: What else would you like to share?
UC: I’m doing this because times are tough right now. I’m also doing this because many people are alone out there, and if I can take away the loneliness, please become part of my family and become one of my nieces and nephews. I welcome everyone; there is no prejudice or shame here. Everyone is equal Big Love from Uncle Chris.