My name is Mike Johnston. I’m a foodie, wine enthusiast and home cook based in California. I was born in and Atlanta and lived briefly in the amazing culinary city of Montreal. When I first started Friday Night Cooking it was an experiment. A drunk bet with a friend. Would anyone care about an over 40, divorced dad living in San Francisco, using his newfound love of cooking to live stream the world’s worst chicken sandwich? What the hell… let’s find out.
So there I was. Staring into the abyss that was live online streaming. As I chugged a glass of Mark West Pinot Noir from the end of bottle two, I begin to broadcast my first stream. Competing with softcore porn for viewers, I was shocked to see that two hundred people tuned into a show titled, “The World’s Best Chicken Sandwich #cooking”. For the next 20 minutes, I would drunkenly pound a chicken breast into submission. Lather up hamburger buns with butter and mayonnaise. Then generally ramble on about how I fell in love with cooking at the ripe old age of 41. If I could cook then you could too!
For the next year, every Friday Night at 9:30PM PST, my 6’5” substantial frame with an alcohol coated southern drawl would cook for two iPhones- one Meerkat and one Periscope. And, each night, more and more people would tune in. The show could be so exciting at times. I would try new dishes. Take requests from followers. Had my daughter guest star. And, cut the tip of my Goddamn finger off; live for everyone to see. Good times.
But eventually, like both Meerkat and Periscope themselves, the shiny new object started to tarnish. Viewership had stalled and I grew bored with rushing home every Friday Night to cook for my phones. The college dudebro owners of Meerkat finally had to admit defeat and push their company into the dead pool. Periscope is still alive (technically) but the founders have left Twitter and most people could care less about the platform. Friday Night Cooking had it’s last live streaming show just before Thanksgiving 2015.
So here we are now. And, it’s amazing to reflect on how my life has changed through this experience. I have come to realize that I really miss Friday Night Cooking. I’m a home cook, self-taught and proud of what I have accomplished.
I miss creating content to share with the world about a subject that I am passionate about. I miss the interaction with subscribers who I helped or inspired. I miss the feedback and perspective from those that helped and inspired me. It’s frankly, both intoxicating and humbling. I’d really like to make Friday Night Cooking something special.
Here’s what I don’t miss. I don’t miss broadcasting live. Although it taught me great lessons about public speaking, talking to the camera and cooking at the same time; it was painful for one person to execute. I don’t miss the shit quality of the iPhone video streams. I don’t miss rushing through mid-week to shop for ingredients because I will be live on Friday Night. Who has time for appointment based viewing today? And, candidly, I don’t miss blowing up my personal life for the sake of entertainment. There needs to be a balance.
So, I have been inspired to reinvent Friday Night Cooking into what you see here today.
My belief is that It should not be solely about me. It should be about the food and the process. Therefore, you’re going to see new videos spread across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter; and obviously my blog. The majority of these videos will contain recipes. Some will contain tips and tricks with my big old talking head. And, yet others will contain interviews with other home cooks, chefs and/or online personalities. It should be fun and entertaining. It should not pretend to be something that it’s not. The blog should not be just about the recipes either. It should be about the stories that bring people together over food. Essentially that’s what it is all about. Cooking and sharing food transcends everything. So, you will see more story focused blog posts and articles alongside the recipes.
In the end, I really want Friday Night Cooking to be a great resource for cooks looking for delicious recipes and entertainment. With your help, I truly think this will be amazing. I hope you will join me on this journey of discovery. Let’s start cooking.