Lights, Camera cook!

From his Mt Martha home award-winning filmmaker and chef Joel Meille, reaches over three million viewers worldwide with his cooking and travel blog Recipe30. Joel decided to combine his two passions, filmmaking and cooking, and it started all when he bought a pizza oven kit.

“I thought I’d film it and put it on YouTube for my friends and family, and maybe someone would watch it, and it would help them to assemble their oven. It started getting some traction, and I thought, “That’s interesting; people really love pizza ovens,” he says, grinning. “When I reached a thousand subscribers, they gave me fifty cents a day, and I thought, “Wow!” I was excited about fifty cents a day. I thought, “I can buy a cup of coffee every week now because of my pizza oven.”

Filmmaking called him back for four years then he returned to YouTube when he was between filmmaking projects. He thought, “I’m going to do this seriously now,” and it took off.

Recipe 30 is about producing restaurant-quality meals in 30 minutes.

Joel says, “Most people think cooking is complicated, but once started realise it doesn’t have to be. Too many recipes are over-complicated these days with too many ingredients, exotic spices and things people don’t understand and don’t have in their pantries.

Most people think cooking is complicated but once started realise it doesn’t have to be!

“Originally, the recipes were 30 seconds long, but it got to the point where a 30-second video just didn’t work; – it was too rushed. Everything feels rushed these days. People need to go into the kitchen and use it as meditation and mindfulness because cooking is mindful meditation. When I’m cooking, sometimes I listen to soft music or just nothing – I just listen to the sounds, smell the smells, and feel the textures of the food. It puts me in a different state of mind and removes all the stress. People often do it the other way around; they come home and make cooking stressful.”

These days thanks to the internet and social media, Joel has over three million viewers. He says, “It’s hard to grasp what a million people is – or three million. I just see it as numbers; I don’t really understand it. It blows my mind a bit, but it’s a nice feeling to know from the comments I receive that I’m helping people; that makes me happy.”

As a travel blogger and chef Joel has been to some exotic places such as India and Southeast Asia. Does he have a favourite?

“It’s hard to pick a favourite because every place brings me something new. I learn not only about food but about people and their culture. In the poorer areas, I can see that people are sometimes happier than in the more affluent areas, and they are generous; – they invite you for dinner or a cup of tea and expect nothing in return.”

Multi-skilled, Joel does everything himself for his Recipe30 videos and makes them look effortless. “It’s hard and good at the same time,”Joel explains. “I like to have full control because I love all the aspects of it: – the camera work, the cooking and the editing, and I couldn”t imagine giving anyone of those tasks to anybody else. People tell me, “You could grow fast into a big business, and I probably could, but I don’t want to be a big production company – I’m just happy being the way I am. I have a simple life, and I enjoy everything I do, from travel to cooking, I don’t need to expand.”

Joel does have an assistant; his Collie dog Whisky. Joel says the reaction to Whisky has been very positive. “Unfortunately,” he grins. “I featured him once just looking at the camera, and viewers said, “We’d like to see the dog again,” so I put him in another time, and suddenly there was an audience there – not for the recipes but just to see Whisky. So Whisky has become famous and appears in the videos almost more than I do. He’s such a recognisable figure; – I should use him as my logo. If I don”t feature him, I get complaints. I know I’ve influenced many people overseas to buy Collies.”

What is it about the peninsula, and Mt Martha in particular, attracts Joel?

“For me, it’s the sea; – and that from my house, I can walk to the beach, farmland, a boardwalk, a little village, and I can’t find that anywhere else. It’s relaxed. I love the fresh air, especially after returning from India; – it’s made me appreciate where I live ten times more. Also, it’s got more of a European feel, and the produce is getting better and better. There are nice restaurants and vineyards. You’ve got everything nearby. Where else do you get that?”

Joel doesn’t like to be called an influencer. “It didn’t bother me in the beginning, but now when you think of an influencer you just think of… um… I’m trying to think of how to say it politely. I like to be described as a content creator rather than an influencer because I want people to feel influenced to create and not to buy things.”

By Muriel Cooper Photos Yanni

Peninsula Essence July 2023