During these times, our attention spans have varied wildly from binge reading an entire novel in one day to only being able to focus on videos the length of a TikTok jam.

For me, I have found my most calming content via YouTube: Bon Appetit’s Test Kitchen. It has long been something that has fascinated me. Now, I find it an essential part of my day. The cast of cooks, chefs, drinks specialists, bakers and other characters that populate the kitchen have become a source of inspiration and comraderie for me, and many others.

Break out star Claire Saffitz tries to recreate gourmet versions of favorite snacks like Sour Patch Kids, Hot Pockets and Pop Tarts, with great results that belie the tangled journey she took to get there.

Brad Leone’s regular series “It’s Alive!” explores the world of pickling and fermentation. Brad is a self-proclaimed “glass three-fourths full” kind of guy, which is part of his major goofy, off-kilter appeal.

Other members of the cast of characters include Sohla, the queen of chocolate tempering; Rick, the colorfully manicured master on how to make everything (especially with a Latin twist); Chris, the tightly wound super-taster who runs his station with an apron full of tasting spoons. There are many more. Delve into it for a delicious ride.

An almost cult-like fan following has developed for the videos, with Facebook fan groups, action figures, a podcast and more. I think it’s because the test kitchen videos are the wholesome content we are all craving right now. Kind of like “The Great British Bake Off” for a new generation. The cast genuinely seem to like each other and their work. They are supportive when one hits a snag in their recipe or when something doesn’t work out.

And, bonus, you might learn a new kitchen skill or recipe along the way.


What to watch: Claire’s attempt to make gourmet Pop Tarts or Brad’s attempt to make focaccia bread.

What to drink: Anything made by the BA chefs! Here’s a video of their favorites.



The Corona Diaries is a joint project of the Renaissance Publishing Staff. Each week during the series, a different member of our staff will share their day-to-day experiences with working from home, social distancing and the other ups and downs of living through the pandemic.