Crystal Hatch created one of her first cooking tutorials during her senior year at UCLA. The alumna filmed herself turning fresh-picked lemons into raspberry lemonade.
The video landed her a job as a video producer for BuzzFeed’s Goodful page. She now makes cooking tutorials almost every week.
As a producer, the UCLA alumna films and edits videos such as “Healthier Homemade Cinnamon Rolls” and “One-Pan Teriyaki Chicken Meal Prep.” Hatch said working for the healthy lifestyle page has combined her love for healthy cooking and film.
“I was lucky to find this position so soon after graduating UCLA,” she said. “I get to cook, film and make food look sexy and healthy for a living.”
Hatch has produced more than 30 videos for Goodful since she started working at Buzzfeed in November. Her videos cover healthy recipes and self-help tips, with topics ranging from meal preparation to homemade dog treats, each garnering about 25,000 Facebook likes and reactions.
Hatch said she brainstorms ideas for each video, drawing inspiration from her personal life, food trends and the internet. She keeps the ideas handy on a Microsoft Word document on her laptop.
Hatch’s first video for Goodful, a sweet potato breakfast hash, was a personal recipe she made before starting her job. The colorful dish contains diced sweet potatoes, jalapeños, bell peppers and four over-easy eggs, all cooked in the same cast-iron pan.
When Hatch finds a recipe on internet blogs or Pinterest pages, she said she tries to alter a variable, like an ingredient, to make it more her own. Goodful also publishes the website for each unoriginal recipe alongside the cooking videos to ensure the initial poster gets credit. If Hatch is unable to change any parts of a recipe, she contacts a blogger for permission to use their exact recipe, which she did for a vegan blueberry-lime cheesecake video.
“I tried to alter the recipe but it was just not as good and I didn’t want to put a lesser thing out there, so we contacted the original blogger,” she said. “We linked her on our page and her blog crashed from all the Goodful viewers looking at the recipe – it was an awesome instant gratification.”
Besides finding recipes, Hatch also films, edits and cooks in all of her videos. Hatch’s work station includes a video camera secured onto a metal rod overhead for aerial bowl and pan shots and another camera set up on the side to film what Hatch calls “bite shots,” or close-up takes of a silver fork splitting open an egg yolk or a spoon scooping avocado pudding.
Kahnita Wilkerson, a video fellow at BuzzFeed, said Hatch’s skills she learned at UCLA help her understand how to make pretty and straightforward videos.
“(Hatch) is extremely organized,” Wilkerson said. “She goes into shoots knowing exactly what angles she needs to get and how the video is going to ultimately look at the end.”
Wilkerson said she thinks Hatch’s keen eye for color manifests itself in the last shot of videos like “Baked Cauliflower Bites 4 Ways” which shows how Hatch can make different versions of the same dish all look vibrant.
While the videos Hatch posts are generally around two minutes long, the filming process is significantly longer. Single-recipe videos, like the sweet potato breakfast hash, can take around two hours to film and can be easily cut, edited and sent out the next day for notes, she said. But videos showing multiple recipes, like her nine-way sweet potato toast video, can take almost a full day to film and two full days to edit.
Since she spends hours producing cooking videos that viewers can follow in their own kitchens, Hatch said she keeps her audience and their previous comments in mind while filming .
“We take from the feedback our videos get (in order) to understand what people want to see,” she said. “We know that our audience doesn’t like it when we use four tablespoons of olive oil, so when I cook I’m conscious of that and only use one tablespoon.”
Goodful uses that feedback loop between its videos and audience to evolve its content and keep it interesting, said BuzzFeed social media strategist Bryanna Duca. She said she considers the numbers of likes and comments and even the types of comments each video accumulates before introducing new ideas.
“We get a bunch of shares coming from people who tag their friends and want to do these meal preps together,” Duca said. “I’ll see that and the next video we’d make might be specific to people meal-prepping with their friends.”
Duca said her favorite video Hatch made shows nine ways to dress up sweet potato toast because it incorporates bright and fresh ingredients like pomegranate seeds and walnuts, which she thinks make the tutorial beautiful.
Hatch said while making mouth-watering videos is fun, one of the most gratifying parts of her job is knowing viewers use her videos in their everyday lives.
“That’s what I like so much about Goodful, the videos that we produce are about making life better and helping people live more balanced and healthier lives,” she said. “I couldn’t think of a better job to have.”