Take a Photo Tour of the New Tastemade Studios in Santa Monica
L.A. is a company town to be sure, but when it comes to food television, New York has historically had the market cornered. Scripps Networks — with their wildly-profitable Food Network, Cooking Channel, and Travel Channel brands — are based out of the Big Apple, and have been pretty much dominated the traditional cable culinary scene. But a new web-based channel called Tastemade is hoping to flip that idea on its head, bringing the focus of digital food programing to their Santa Monica studios.
Tastemade was founded by Larry Fitzgibbon, Joe Perez, and Steven Kydd, who worked together at Demand Media before launching the Tastemade project last year. They have over 100 digital food channels in the Americas, Europe and Asia that are driven by culinary tastemakers who share a passion for creating content for food lovers worldwide.
Their Santa Monica studios are located in the old TOMS shoes space, which was also a former MTV hub, so it's safe to say the space has some seriously good juju. And we're not just saying that because we're swooning over the kitchen sets — which by the way are jaw-droppingly stunning.
Seriously, between the rustic "Brooklyn kitchen" with its exposed brick and rustic chalkboards and the light and airy country cooking set that sports subway tiles and a massive island for prep work, this is our dream space. And then there's the bar, which basically looks like Bestia and Harvard & Stone — two of our favorite places for a tipple in L.A. — had a boozy baby. We die.
The design is the work of Susan Lennon, a Venice Beach-based designer and architect who lives by the Macklemore ideals of thrifting. She's a big fan of found objects and recycled goods, which becomes apparent in the little touches throughout. There's a living room floor space that's made entirely out of reclaimed leather belts, and a light fixture whose base is a weathered, rusted fence that Lennon found at a Texas antiques fair. (The founders joke that employees have to get tetanus shots before working at Tastemade because there's so much rusted metal in the studios.)
But it's not all looks here. The brains behind Tastemade are very strategic in how they want their company to evolve. The founders and producers are namely cultivating native talent, meaning culinary personalities that have a pre-existing following on YouTube.
Current talent on their roster includes British chef Jamie Spafford of Sorted Food, Aussie Rob Nixon of Nicko's Kitchen, Brazilian sweet tooth Danielle Noce of I Could Kill for Dessert, British bombshell Caroline Artiss of the Great Chef Race, and Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine of The Perennial Plate, which was just nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Web Series.
These web-based personalities are part of a new creative class of tastemakers that aim to inspire and educate. ""The internet doesn't have to be all about about dogs skateboarding backwards," says founder Steven Kydd.
Traditional media might have overlooked them because they're not living in New York or LA and don't have an agent. But Tastemade is hoping that their global footprint combined with solid culinary knowhow will equate to success.
And it seems like it's off to a good start; according to their numbers, in the month of January alone, over 9 million consumers generated 160 years of watch time combined.
"This isn't the future," says Kydd. "This is now."