Sharing tried and true recipes with generous helpings of TLC, Bonita Hussey dives into her home-grown cooking web series, Bonita’s Kitchen.
Bonita Hussey would be the first to tell you she had no illusions of becoming a viral YouTube star.
Yet, with over 39,000 subscribers, 240 videos and counting and over 2,800,000 views, Hussey’s home-grown culinary web series Bonita’s Kitchen is an undisputed hit with both locals and international observers alike. And it all came from the most humble of beginnings.
How it began
Beginning in the summer of 2014 as a means to share a homemade bread recipe with her son remotely, Hussey, alongside her right-hand man behind the camera, producer and loving husband Raymond, found themselves riding a wave of social media hits and shareable videos, for those transplanted Newfoundlanders and Labradorians dying for a taste of home.
“I can remember Brad (her son) was living away at that time. He showed lots of interest in cooking and baking, and he said just give me the (bread) recipe. So I’m writing it down and spending hours trying to come up with a clear message, because I didn’t write recipes. He said to me ‘Mom, that’s not going to work, I’m not going to figure that out. So can you just do a little video?’
“Raymond took out the Ipad and said, ‘OK, just do what you do.’ It was so funny because it was like one of five clips, but then he said let’s do it with the camera. And we put that one up and man, it just soared.”
From the tried-and-true bread recipe that started it all, to lassy buns, toutons, jigs dinner and obscure favourites like tomato soup cake, vinegar pie and seven layer dinner, Hussey takes standard Newfoundland favourites, presents them with a dose of TLC, all while aiming to share her secrets to delicious successes out into the world. The results have been simply staggering.
“I’m thinking why are all of these people wanting to look at the homemade bread? It’s just bread. And then after it was like a light went off and it’s like, oh my gosh, this is not just bread. This is like a culture. This is people’s lives. This is what they were brought up to enjoy and love. I just went from there. And we both looked at each other and it’s like, okay, this is something that we can do.”
Having spent nearly three decades alongside husband Raymond working with the GNWT in Yellowknife, the couple returned to the island and now call Spaniard’s Bay home, though ‘retired’ life is anything but idle thanks to Bonita’s Kitchen.
“Oh, it takes a lot of time,” Hussey laughs. “We always said we don’t know what we done when we worked because when we worked for the GNWT in Yellowknife, it was nine to five. But since we’ve moved home, I’m gonna say it’s 24/7 because we go to bed thinking about what our next project is. And sometimes we wake up writing notes.
Passions to the Table
“But I’m so glad that we decided to do this together,” she adds. “Raymond loves video. That’s something he’s done all of his life. Now it just takes it on a different level that he can express himself. But for me, I love cooking and baking.”
While Bonita and Raymond bring individual passions to the table for Bonita’s Kitchen, it is the ability to connect with viewers across the globe, sharing snippets of Newfoundland’s culture and history that truly has made the series successful on a personal level.
“I get messages from all over the world,” Hussey shares proudly. “I mean, you do have people that don’t like what you’re doing, but I don’t mind that. That just weighs out the preciousness of all these beautiful messages. People say I remember my grandma making toutons and I can just smell it. They’re visualizing and smelling what this recipe would be. That’s the wonder in it.
“We really love promoting our province, no matter what section of the island it is,” Hussey adds. “This is our grandparents that made things with a pinch of this and a pinch of that. I want to have that there, but certainly the beauty and not anything jaded … We want to reach out more because we feel there’s more people out there that would benefit by having a little taste of home in their kitchen.”
For more visit bonitaskitchen.com and the official YouTube channel.