UCLA beach volleyball senior explores her love of cooking in IGTV series
UCLA beach volleyball senior Madi Yeomans had her final collegiate season cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. But she has been making the most of her newfound free time by producing a cooking show on Instagram TV. (Screen capture by Jacqueline Dzwonczyk/Daily Bruin senior staff, Illustration by Emily Dembinski/Daily Bruin staff)
May 19, 2020 5:04 pm
For seven years, Madi Yeomans’ Instagram page was home to picture after picture of her on the beach or in the water.
All those photos are still there, but the more recent posts don’t involve her sport, her team or being outside at all. Starting Jan. 3 Yeomans launched an IGTV series called “Make it Real,” which showcases how-to cooking videos made by the UCLA beach volleyball senior.
Yeomans has won two national championships with the Bruins, being called into the lineup last minute both years when starters were injured. She was once again fighting for time early this season, making seven starts across UCLA’s 15 matches.
Even with much of her energy going toward the Bruins’ run at a third straight title, Yeomans said she started the series this year, knowing she would have more time than usual since she planned to finish all her college credits during winter quarter.
With six full episodes as of May 19, Yeomans has featured everything from pesto chicken pasta, to lentil chili, to churros. Finding new and exciting recipes has been one of the hardest parts of the project, she said.
“In the beginning, I wanted to put literally everything I cook,” Yeomans said. “But now I’m finding that I cook a lot of the same things for myself. So I try to put new things, or things that use stuff a lot of people already have, or things that are versatile.”
Yeomans said she always had a love for home-cooked meals – a regularity growing up with her mom in the kitchen – but didn’t find a love for cooking until it was forced upon her.
It wasn’t until the then-sophomore moved out of the dorms and was forced to feed herself daily that she even started cooking. Even then, Yeomans said it was a struggle to cook well while balancing her course load and beach volleyball regiment.
“My sophomore year, I wouldn’t really call it a love yet – I was just having to cook on my own,” Yeomans said. “(Since then), I’ve definitely learned that cooking doesn’t have to be a chore at all. It can be how you need it to be. You can make an hour recipe or you can make a 15-minute recipe.”
More recently, Yeomans began sharing her love of cooking with her teammates by hosting team dinners and leading pre-match breakfasts on the road.
Yeomans said junior Megan Muret – with whom she had already played and won two court-5 matches this season – is her sous-chef of choice out of her UCLA teammates.
Muret said she helped brainstorm ideas for the cooking series’ theme and name prior to its launch online. And though her choice title of “Madi’s Money Meals” didn’t make the cut, Muret said she has been impressed with how thoroughly Yeomans has developed the show.
“It’s super cool because a lot of us are like, ‘Oh we’re so busy, I feel like I barely have time to do my school work,’ and here (Yeomans) is making a cooking channel,” Muret said.
But since the coronavirus pandemic canceled NCAA seasons as well as in-person activities, Yeomans has had more time than expected to dedicate to her cooking project and has accepted the challenge of cooking with limited ingredients.
“It’s a great time to have (the IGTV series) and keep using it,” Yeomans said. “Quarantine cooking has been just really using what I have because going to the grocery store is just such a daunting task – I’ve been really creative.”
John Hook, with whom Yeomans moved in prior to quarantine, said Yeomans has already gone through other artistic phases – such as painting, pottery and crocheting – during her newfound downtime.
Her cooking show, despite the huge time commitment of preparing and editing each episode, has been one that has stuck, Hook said.
“Now that she’s done with volleyball too, she doesn’t really know what to do with her time – like she’s never had free time,” Hook said. “So she’s trying to do everything that she couldn’t all at one time and she’s getting a little worn out on some things. But with the editing and coming up with ideas and cooking, it’s still there because she loves it.”
Hook said the duo has taken this time to appreciate their shared love of cooking, regularly whipping up breakfast burritos, tri-tip tacos and crepes – a go-to for Yeomans, and her self-proclaimed sweet-tooth.
But the most important aspect of the series in Hook’s mind is Yeomans’ selfless approach.
“She has a good mindset for it – her goal is to help others instead of just get likes,” Hook said. “I really like what she’s doing with it.”
This outlook is right in line with the show’s message: Make it Real.
Yeomans said as she continues her cooking journey, she wants to stay true to this slogan – showing the mess-ups and how frustrating cooking can sometimes be – in the hopes that she can inspire more people to stick with the craft.
“If you burn things, it happens – I still burn things,” Yeomans said. “The best part about cooking is being creative and finding ways around things that happen. So just keep trying.”