Binging with Babish Cookbook Review – A Delicious Pop Culture Food Trip

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Binging with Babish cookbook, from filmmaker and home-schooled home Chef Andrew Rea, showcases in the pages of his cookbook 100 of his best recipes from his favorite films and TV Shows featured on his wildly successful Youtube show.


With a forward from Director Jon Favreau, Binging with Babish opens with a brief introduction, which for the millions who have not heard of the YouTube show, offers some insights into Rea's streaming land identity which is wrapped around a character Oliver Babish, played by Oliver Platt, from the television show West Wing.

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Life in YouTube TV Land "began as a joke," he says, and now 160 episodes and more than 5 million subscribers, spin offs, lots of publicity, and now a cook book, Andrew Rea is inviting the rest of us into his world of recreating the best food recipes from the world of television and films.

At 335 pages, the book, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is detailed and is nicely laid out with full size glossy perfectly style food pictures and an introduction where the filmmaker foodie explains his roots and where the two passions merged.

The first recipe, Traeger Turkey Burger, begins on page 19 with an introduction that reads, "Well, folks, this is it: the accidental genesis. The camera test that evolved into my hobby, then into my passion project, then into my career and life as I know, now this book you're now reading."

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As we find out the Traeger Turkey Burger is from the television show Parks and Recreation and a scene were Rob Lowe is explaining all the fanciful and exotic toppings on his turkey burger and the idea of blending pop culture, food and an appetite for television and films created a recipe for success.

As he moves further, past his origins, the cookbook becomes better, filled with unique and, obviously as the recipes are used in prime-time programming, interesting and unusual recipes, which have already survived the pre-production test kitchens.

There is no particular order to the entries. He mixes films with television shows and breakfast with dinners, pastas with desserts, without a separation, which essentially motivates the reader to thumb through, page by page, pausing at points of interests and moving along like finding the perfect food stop exit on a cross country road trip.

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He introduces Pasta Aglio E Olio, from the film Chef and created on screen by Jon Favreau, followed by New York Style Pizza from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secrets of the Ooze. Philly Cheese-steak Sandwiches inspired by Creed and Beef Wellington inspired by Mad Men.

The recipes are as unique and obscure as some of the inspirations. The Index, at the end of the cookbook, reads like a hodgepodge, smorgasbord,  or his recipe for Timpano. With recipes inspired by Forrest Gump, Moonlight, Frasier, Fried Green Tomatoes, Friends, Food Wars!, Chef, Deadpool, Harry Potter, Breaking Bad, Stranger Things, Julie & Julia, The Office, House of Cards and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

The index is where he groups together recipes. All desserts are listed alphabetically under "Desserts." The same with Pasta, while they may be separated by fifty pages in the cookbook, the index lists them, joined rightly, together.

Director Jon Favreau wrote in the forward, "Much like cooking, we go into the field of storytelling because we want to connect with others on an emotional level. The stylized rituals of both of these disciplines are complex but their goals are simple. We seek to communicate on a very pure level. Emotion, memory and sensation are all intertwined."

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Overall the book is filled with pop culture, mixed with milestone markers of Andrew Rea's own journey including early investments and decisions to recreate with genuineness and to remains truthful to the authenticity of the recipe recreated and its context.

What separates Binging with Babish from the countless other cookbooks is the uniqueness of the recipes as it is billed "100 Recipes Recreated from your Favorite Movies and TV Shows."

As the cuisine has at some point been integral to a television or film plot or storyline, the food has a hook to it. Whether it is Walter White's dinner with Gus or his birthday breakfasts, the recipes bring a touch of pop culture, stir a memory and serve a delicious meal, side dish or dessert.

Binging with Babish is available at bookstores everywhere.

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