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How ‘Binging with Babish’ creator went from $40k in debt to 5M+ subscribers

Ever wonder what “the grey stuff” from “Beauty and the Beast” would taste like in real life? Or perhaps Michael Scott’s infamous pretzel described in NBC’s “The Office”?

Then its worth tuning in to “Binging with Babish,” the popular Youtube based cooking series that brings to life some of the most iconic dishes seen on-screen. The show is a meeting place for foodies and cinephiles alike. The recipes featured in his videos range from classic films like “Goodfellas,” with the infamous prison gravy, to hit fantasy series “Game of Thrones,” with items like Pigeon Pie and Wild Game.

Andrew Rea, creator and host of the Youtube show ‘Binging with Babish’, told Yahoo Finance in an interview that “like most youtubers, my channel is kind of a happy accident. I meant for it be sort of an after-work hobby.”

Rea pointed to the show’s name as proof that that he didn’t expect to have the 5.43 million subscribers now tuned into his channel. The Babish moniker is something he considers “a pretty dumb name” that originated from Reddit, of all places.

“I named [the show] after my Reddit username, which is Oliver Babish. Which is a very obscure character from like eight episodes of The West Wing, one of my favorite shows,” said Rea. “Now it’s my entire brand, and what most people think my actual name is.”

Binging with Babish's take on "Prison Gravy" inspired by Goodfellas

The first show premiered in February 2016, and was a “Parks and Recreation” inspired episode, and the step-by-step instructions Rea provided to recreate TV and movie-based meals quickly became popular among viewers. Yet audiences rarely see the face behind the instagram-worthy plates, as its creator and host typically films from his torso up in the kitchen of his New York City apartment.

Rea has continued to air the episodes on Google-owned Youtube, where he originally launched the show — and for good reason.

“YouTube does a great job of putting the power to monetize your content into the hands of creators,” said Rea. “I've worked directly with YouTube and a lot of different ways to make the content profitable.”

Rea is not relying solely on his relationship with Youtube in order to make money. His new cookbook, of the same name as his show, “Binging with Babish,” went on sale just this week. And he’s branching out into other ventures, as well.

“I'm just trying to find as many other avenues as I can that people want to see or hear,” said Rea. “We're trying to open up a brew pub in Brooklyn, this time next year, which should be very exciting. You can come by, watch me make the show and have a beer.”

Binging with Babish's take on "Pigeon Pie with Wild Games" inspired by Game of Thrones

When it comes to choosing what he should recreate, he looks to his fan-base for guidance. “I listen to them,” said Rea. “More than half the ideas for the show come from comments from from people saying you know, I want to see this on the show next.”

He added that “It's one of my favorite aspects of it is the sort of the the crowdsource nature of it where everybody can yell out what they want, and I can hear, and we make the show together. I try to keep it fresh.”

Yes, do quit your day job

Binging with Babish's take on "Michael Scott's Pretzel" inspired by The Office

Rea made the decision to leave his day job and focus solely on ‘Binging with Babish’ after he realized he was making more money doing the show, which was “a little over a year” after the first episode launched.

“When I started,” said Rea. “I was like $40,000 in debt and I took on a little bit more debt to get the equipment that I needed. I was taking a bet on myself and happily it paid off,” he said.

“There just comes a tipping point where you realize, okay, I can monetize this enough to live off of and that happened, luckily, very quickly,” said Rea. “It was more of a slow burn, but it's been a nice linear predictable growth. Which is very encouraging when you're leaving the comfort of a paycheck.”

He called YouTube “the new American dream. You ask a kid nowadays, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?,’” he asked. “They used to say firefighter, astronaut, now they say YouTuber,” he added.

Sarah Smith is a Segment Producer/Booker at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @sarahasmith

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