As soon as the YouTube video plays, one is greeted with a particular jingle followed by a greeting thick in Japanese accent: “Hi! I am Francis, the host of this show Cooking With (the) Dog.” The camera shifts to the host… a toy poodle named Francis. Confused?
It really is quite impossible to believe (and shame on you for giving Francis a dirty look!), but Cooking With Dog (CWD) is making waves as one of the most popular and subscribed online cooking shows out there. It is definitely making cooking fun again.
CWD is an online Japanese cooking show aired on YouTube. While many watch it for the sumptuous Japanese food featured in each episode, half of the show’s charm lies solely on CWD’s eccentric host Francis.
Obviously, the dog cannot talk; he is given a voiceover, and Francis is not the one preparing the dishes—the dog simply stands on set. Instead, an unnamed Japanese chef demonstrates the cooking. She prepares the meals as Francis details each procedure.
In this regard, Francis is arguably the true star of the show, providing commentary in his distinctive voice. (One has to watch the show to understand how unique his voice is.)
A lot like home
CWD is set in a simple kitchen common in Japan today, drawing in the audience with its very laid-back and homey feel. This is rare in cooking shows nowadays, which commonly feature impressive kitchen setups either through excessively decorated or highly modern kitchens. The set of CWD, on the other hand, creates an atmosphere of home, making watching the videos quite relaxing.
Francis gives out instructions that are very simple and easy to follow, or as he would say, “it’s so simple, even a dog can do it.” The unnamed Japanese chef provides clear and exemplary execution of the dishes without cutting any corners and making every dish as mouthwatering as the last.
Every episode features the mystery chef preparing authentic Japanese food with authentic Japanese ingredients that can easily make anyone salivate upon completion of the dish.
Kaisendon, oyakodon, gyudon, udon…
Like most Japanese cooking shows, CWD is host to a multitude of traditional dishes like the various donburi bowls, or even noodles. CWD also has videos on Japanese desserts such as macha (green tea) ice cream and fruit anmitsu (think halo-halo). It also features yōshoku-style food, western food given a Japanese twist. Such include the iconic omuraisu (omelet rice), korrokke pan (croquettes in bread) and Napolitan spaghetti.
The featured meal in each episode is prepared step by step as Francis provides comments—this portion is very much the same as any cooking show. Of course, some of the ingredients are not that readily available outside of Japan. Thankfully, the producers were kind enough to note suitable alternatives for things such as sake, shiso leaves and the like.
CWD also welcomes their viewers to pitch in their suggestions for what Japanese food they will feature next. They even have Facebook and Mixi accounts for fans to follow. There is no doubt that CWD’s online presence has gained it wide viewership.
Not another cooking show
From the multitude of cooking shows produced then and now, what could possibly make CWD stand out? Well my friends, the answer to that is character.
Sure, all cooking shows feature great food, but at the end of the day, we usually end up forgetting about what we just saw regardless of how much we drooled over the featured dish or dessert.
Some shows resort to wacky gimmicks and off the wall stunts to lure in viewers (such as hosts talking to potatoes they consider friends and preparing seemingly unpalatable concoctions), but their antics can somewhat come off as trying too hard.
What factors contribute to CWD’s success then? A possible answer would be its perfect blend of normalcy and good old Japanese weirdness that we all know and love. With a host as entertaining and unconventional as Francis, the show’s recall factor shoots up. The quality and presentation of the food back up the show’s popularity too.
To date, CWD has over 13 million views and 92,000 subscribers, making Francis and his trusty cooking partner YouTube celebrities.
While all the recipes in the show are worth a try, talking dog or not, Francis is what adds that magic, which makes cooking highly enjoyable. Even if the viewers have no plans of trying out the recipes for themselves, the enlightenment CWD brings about seemingly complex Japanese dishes is worth five minutes of internet time.
The show provides a unique combination of culture immersion and an adorable talking poodle. Now do we still need to say it’s one of a kind?