Written by Sophie Wyatt
Cooking a meal from scratch can sometimes be intimidating. With complicated recipes and expensive ingredients often deterring people towards unhealthy, quicker options. Enter WhatWillyCook. Will Hughes’ Instagram page WhatWillyCook is the funniest cooking page that you will follow this year. At the beginning of the year Will, the social media chef, started off with around 800 followers which has now increased to an impressive 29,300 follower count, which is continuing to grow everyday. Living by the words of his bio ‘recipes not stressipes’, it’s not surprising to find out that his comedic cooking videos contain no exact measurements, but rather a more chilled and unique approach of just adding however much you want. Having had a love for food from a young age, Will has gone on to merge his passion for cooking and his sense of humour together to create the humorous videos that fill his social media page.
‘I’ve always been very into food. Basically my little sister wasn’t very well for a while so she was in hospital and my mum was going to visit her a lot and used to make me a lot of pasta, and I always used to like pasta. So when my sister was in hospital, I couldn’t have the pasta mum would make so I was like “Oh fuck I need to learn how to do this myself”. And then I guess it went from there. I cooked at uni and stuff, like I cooked my friends christmas dinner. So then I set up the Instagram just posting pictures and writing silly captions. Obviously it’s a lot more work doing the videos, but it’s more fun than just taking a picture and writing down a caption.’
With lockdown making time for people to be creative and productive, it has also made quite an anxious atmosphere for people who don’t feel like they can complete the things that people are (overly) encouraging. Will explained to us that creating the videos, as well as editing and adding voiceovers can potentially be a full days work, but like many of us sometimes Will’s lockdown motivation means that the video editing time is more spread out.
‘It depends how lazy I’m being. The shooting of it is just as long as it takes to cook really. My girlfriends really helpful with that, but my housemate is a lot better because he shoots videos for MP’s, so he knows all the camera angles and shit like that. So he’s really good, she’s not as good but she’s been very helpful throughout the lockdown. So the shoot takes lets say an hour, cutting it takes about an hour/hour and a half and then doing the voiceover, adding the voiceover, making the voiceover fit, another hour and a half. Then going back through adding captions and effects and shit, I mean it’s probably about six hours all together.’
After making a name for himself online, Will was contacted by well-renowned MOB Kitchen. The online space is for young professionals looking to make affordable and delicious food, much like the audience that Will is targeting with his recipes and videos. Following them working with him on recipes and sharing his work on their own social media pages, Will has just been named as their first MOB media partner.
‘Well my girlfriend’s next door neighbour at uni was best friends with the intern at MOB, so she knew that I had this cooking account. And I was literally just posting pictures, and then lockdown started and my housemate was like “Will, we should do some videos”. So we did one and I enjoyed doing it, so I thought fuck it I’ll do some more. So yeah I guess she just said to them “have you seen this guys page?”, and then they sent a message saying we love your videos. And then they were like let’s start a business together. So they’re going to help me get to a point where I can be cooking and being a twat in videos and all that for money. I’ve done a couple of paid videos now for some smaller companies, but because I find it so fun it doesn’t really seem like work. I don’t want the whole thing to be about working with brands, and I won’t work with a brand if I don’t want to work with a brand. I am still trying to navigate that.’
Being a foodie himself, there aren’t a lot of foods that Will doesn’t enjoy on some level. But we asked him to think really hard and it didn’t take long before he came up with his least favourite food(s).
‘I used to have a really big thing about particle veg. Like peas and beans and sweetcorn, I used to fucking hate them. Which is weird because I can do like corn on the cob and mushy peas, and I love humous. I just don’t rate when they’re little balls. But I did a video a while ago that was turkish koftas with rice, and you cook the rice with chickpeas, paprika and chicken stock or something, its really simple. But before that I don’t think I’d ever eaten a chickpea on its own. And I thought now that I’m doing things with food and cooking, I can’t be a fucking flange about this. I will probably never eat baked beans. Because of the particle veg thing. I feel like they’re like little pillows, and I wouldn’t want to eat a little pillow. I have eaten beans before but I’m always more of a spaghetti hoop man. The other thing is, if I made beans myself then I probably would eat them but I will never eat tinned baked beans, they’re butters.’
Although Will’s Instagram is packed with a constant stream of new and exciting recipes, he explained that there are two particular dishes that he would say are his favourites to make.
‘I like making fried chicken. Beef wellington and fried chicken are my two favourite big dishes to make. If you’ve got people coming round and you have a nice evening. Beef wellington is actually really easy to make, but it is expensive. You have to get a good fillet of beef otherwise it’s not going to be good, but you don’t have to make your own fucking pastry. But fried chicken’s the best one.’
During lockdown it’s safe to say that eating at restaurants has been severely missed by a large majority of people. Will explained that while on a student budget he did not eat out a lot, there were some restaurants that he will be excited to revisit once things are back to normal.
‘Well I work in Covent Garden and there’s seven dials market down there, and I think the best thing there is a place called Yum Buns that does bao buns and they’re fucking amazing. Coqfighter is a chicken burger restaurant which is really good. White Men Can’t Jerk is a Jamacian style kitchen, they have them in a couple of pubs around London. Nanny Bills, I never ate there before but they sent me a homemade burger kit, that was really nice. The best places I’ve ever eaten are in Nottingham, weirdly. So there’s a place called Kushi-ya, it’s like a Japanese-tapas type thing. And there was another place called Home Boys, they have this street food thing like asian inspired burger type stuff. I have actually had a Mcdonald’s in lockdown, I was picking up my girlfriend from Nottingham and on the way back one of the drive-thru’s was open so we hoped on that. But that doesn’t really count.’
Although Will has been cooking for a long time, he explained to us that he is yet to have slipped up majorly on a dish. While his dishes require care and the passion for food itself, the fact that Will is confident in the fact that he hasn’t messed any dishes up majorly just adds to the idea that his food really is to incise people to want to cook. Rather than complicated and expensive dishes that deter people away from making food.
‘This is not me being cocky, but when I try and cook something that I’ve never cooked before, I don’t like following recipes, so what I’ll do is read the recipe and then just not look at it and hope for the best. And I posted a cheesecake video and I’d not made a cheesecake before and that came out really well, I was surprised. A lot of it is about making mistakes anyway. But this is the thing that I dread that I’m filming something that I’ve not made before, thinking it’s going to be good and then I fuck it up completely. I did once try and do an eggs benedict and I fucked up the hollandaise sauce, and ended up just doing a video on how to make a nice poached egg. But I had made a hollandaise sauce before and it was nice, but I’ve never had it where I’ve tried something and it’s just flopped. But I guess that’s just me being lucky.’
Will divulged that his plan is to be releasing a cookbook in the near future and possibly even get on TV at some point. While he clearly enjoys creating online content, which he plans to further with an Ebook, he explained to us that it was more of a stepping stone in which he could test the waters and see if people enjoyed his cooking.
‘I have a little notepad, so when I’ll cut the video together I’ll sit down and watch it through and just write down the first thing that comes into my head, whatever stupid thing it is. I don’t put quantities in my videos, because I think that when you’re cooking you have to try and work stuff out for yourself. Like have a guideline, but then the rest of it should be if you like something put more of that in, if you don’t then don’t. It’s totally down to personal preference, that’s kind of what I like about it. I was thinking of doing an Ebook first, because obviously doing a published printed book would be good, but maybe not until there’s enough of a demand for that. I’ve got a friend that I’ve actually met through Instagram called Marcus Cooks and his page is more like pictures and stories. He did an Ebook and it went really well. Also the nice thing about it is that not only has he done it through paypal which makes it kind of a more intimate thing, but half of the money went to the MIND charity, and then when George Floyd was murdered 100% went to Black Lives Matter organisations. So I probably would do a similar sort of thing and do it so half the money goes to charity. Because obviously I do want to be able to do this full-time, but if the demand was high enough and people were buying it, then it’s nice to be able to do something nice with it.’
While having a restaurant may be the goal for some chefs, Will explained that that is not his dream. He told us that he would much rather cook in a more intimate setting, such as a supper club or pop-up.
‘When I was fourteen I was working in a kitchen as a pot-wash, and a kitchen is just not my idea of a nice place to work. Like it’s stressful, you always have fucking people complaining, and it’s already sweaty in there so the last thing you want is a waitress coming saying ‘Ooh someone on table three says their food is cold’. Most of the time it seemed like people were just trying to get free food. I think it was Dudley Moore who said, and this is a quote, ‘They’re all cunts out there’. He was right, because I think really that is the problem. Like obviously I am putting myself out here and some people do give me shit for the videos but that is because it is a fact, we do just have to deal with the general public. But being in an already stressful environment and having to take shit, no that does not sound fun. I’d rather do ten people who’ve placed a pre-order that I can cook for and do that a few times. Like smaller things more regularly rather than having my own restaurant. I think what I love about cooking is how intimate it is, that’s why I like having my friends round to cook for them as opposed to going out. It’s nicer being in a smaller environment and all enjoying the same thing. So I’m more about that than having a fucking sixty seater resturant.’
If you don’t already follow Will’s Instagram, you can find his page and all his incredible recipes HERE.