Hannah Hart shared her first My Drunk Kitchen video on YouTube for her best friend when they were on opposite sides of the country. While drinking several glasses of wine, she demonstrated how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. The video went viral, and the rest is Drunk History. No, that’s a different show — drunk narrators are enjoying a surge in popularity at the moment.
Hart, who currently lives in Los Angeles, has now been making My Drunk Kitchen for three years now this August Dey Street Books released her cookbook, My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with Your Gut. You probably won’t find the book in the cooking section of your local bookstore — look for it in the humor section.
If you've seen the show, you might think this is a missed opportunity, since the web series actually does contain the occasional useful tip for making such problematic dishes as eggplant Parmesan and tackles culinary challenges like English toad in the hole (in one of the best episodes).
However, the book is not the same as the show. And the recipes included don't really make you think of moving the cookbook to the cooking section – these are recipes for Saltine nachos and cream cheese taquitos.
Mostly there are pages of Hart’s puns and lighthearted life advice. Hart's videos spoof cooking shows, but her book doesn't really spoof cookbooks; it's more of a comedic pep talk for her YouTube and Twitter fans, who are legion.
The cookbook is full of portraits of Hart, nicknamed Harto, in all her soft-butch beauty. (Some of her fans have dubbed themselves Hartosexuals.) But those photos combined with the hodgepodge of fonts and jokes scrawled on the page at different angles don’t completely deliver the spontaneity and charm of her shows, since improvising doesn’t come across the same on the page.
For one thing, some of Hart’s adventures in the kitchen are of the must-be-seen-to-be-believed variety, like in Season 1, Episode 8 when she tries to make ice cream in a sandwich bag. At the end of that episode, by the time our drunken host puts her bag of slush into the freezer, takes out a carton of store bought ice cream and jokes, “You should never be ashamed of yourself,” the moral feels earned.
In other episodes she faces problems like kitchens that are too small, dropped food, not having the right kind of pan, and cryptic recipes. These are the problems of home cooks everywhere and seeing Hart press on and deliver an endless stream of puns is fortifying and encouraging. A comedian chef is a wonderful thing, maybe even a necessary thing.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver was a recent guest on My Drunk Kitchen and helped make one of the cookbook’s recipes, The Hartwich, a large meatball split in half with sandwich fillings inside. As they drop the meatballs into a baking dish Oliver says, “I’ve never cooked like this before – I mean rustic I love, but gravity cooking…” He does manage to make a tasty-looking sandwich, which Hart stops to photograph with her iPhone before recommending that Oliver consider giving cooking a try because he seems good at it.
Hart is good at cooking too, or at least good for cooking. And for cooks at their wits' end, Hart’s wit is great company. For those who are already fans of the host (and perhaps also for any college students who haven’t already learned the art of combining prepared foods) My Drunk Kitchen can bring Harto into your home and remind you to pour yourself a glass of wine and go for it, without taking yourself too seriously.