While dishes like SpongeBob SquarePants' King-Size Ultra Krabby Supreme, with the Works, Double Batter Fried, on a Stick are entirely fictional, YouTube cooking star Andrew Rea executes them with the total seriousness of a regular cooking tutorial in his hit Binging with Babish series. He mixes up the special sauce, cooks the patties "smash burger" style (smashing the balls of meat onto a smoking-hot cast-iron skillet), tops the patties with cheese, beer-batters the fully-assembled quadruple burger (lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, bacon, special sauce), deep-fries it in peanut oil, batters it and deep-fries it again (while noting you should take this moment to contemplate what life choices brought you here), and puts it on a stick.
Once done, he takes a bite and then squirts mayo into his mouth, just like Harold did in that SpongeBob episode. It's about as outrageous as Rea gets. Paired with his light humor, soothing NPR vocal quality, and recipes re-created from TV shows, movies, and video games (ranging from Harry Potter's butterbeer and chocolate frogs to dire wolf bread from Game of Thrones to the huevos rancheros in Breaking Bad), Rea has generated quite the following—more than five million YouTube subscribers and counting.
Rea is among the rising trend of YouTube cooking personalities who prefer to take their faces out of the equation for a purer, more straightforward how-to cooking experience, though his pop-culture savvy is certainly what has led to his popularity. Because of this, Rea is more recognized by his distinctive arm tattoos. The ones you can see in his videos include the 1911 Kodak logo on his inner right forearm (an homage to his hometown of Rochester, New York), and a tattoo of a chef's knife and whisk with a banner that reads "Born & Bread" (the name of his "fantasy bakery").
He also, coincidentally, has a tattoo of the Seattle skyline on his rear bicep. It's not because he's ever been here, however, but just another facet of his obsession with television, in this case, with the Seattle-set TV show Frasier. In a February interview with Uproxx, Rea said that whenever people see the tattoo, they assume he's from Seattle, and he loves to tell them he's never been. "But I'm dying to see Seattle, because I love coffee and I love rain and I love Frasier. It's kind of a mecca for me."
Rea's appearance at Town Hall on October 31, as part of his cookbook tour for Binging with Babish: 100 Recipes Recreated from Your Favorite Movies and TV Shows, will mark his first official pilgrimage here. No food will actually be served, but he'll be presenting a slideshow of behind-the-scenes pics and other apparently goofy and tantalizing photos of dishes from the show.
It's definitely worth attending, even for people who have no interest in learning how to make Homer Simpson's waffle-iron-destroying Patented Space Age Out-of-This-World Moon Waffles, or Chef's Chocolate Salty Balls, or the Legend of Zelda's Monster Cake, or even Frasier Crane's signature pomegranate and honey sauce. You'll get the chance to find out how somebody who, without any professional training in either cooking or video production, managed to quit their day job and make a living from their love of eating food and watching TV.