BLACK DIAMOND — An abundance of wine, packaged food and spare time — peppered with a love for entertaining — has become the key ingredients for a cooking show created at the hands of a Black Diamond father-and-son team.
Andrew Dunning and 23-year-old Liam are spicing up social distancing with their YouTube cooking show Credit Cooking after temporarily shutting down their family-owned and operated photography and filmography production company Dunning Imagery due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our business ground to a halt and we had all of this equipment around so we thought, let’s do something,” Andrew said. “Initially it was a little bit unnerving, but I’m starting to get into it.”
Andrew admits to lacking professional kitchen skills, yet he’s not shy about spicing up packaged foods and showing off his amateur chopping skills as he creates mouth-watering meals and desserts with Liam behind the camera.
“Ninety per cent of the time my wife Debbie does the cooking, but when we have guests over I always do something a little fancy,” said Andrew. “We love having dinner parties and having people over. It’s always been a part of who we are.”
Their first episode of Credit Cooking’s Quarantine Cooking series aired on YouTube on April 16, featuring Dunning’s pork tenderloin stuffed with spiced-up Stovetop stuffing wrapped in bacon in a mushroom wine sauce, with a side of mashed potatoes and braised cabbage.
Andrew sips wine while guiding watchers through quarantine cooking, using canned and packaged foods most people can find in their cupboards.
There is no storyboard for this cooking show.
“The comments are ad lib,” Andrew said. “It’s just for fun and we’re having a blast. I don’t consider myself to be a funny guy, and the kids always pick on me for my dad humour, but we had some comments saying, ‘You’re pretty funny.’”
Since the show was featured on CTV News in April, he has been contacted by numerous companies asking that he feature their products, including a Black Diamond brewery, Calgary restaurant, Crowsnest Pass honey business and organic vegetable farm in Lacombe – all offering free products in exchange for some publicity.
Episodes air every week, with upcoming episodes featuring chicken parmesan, bruschetta, Caesar dressing and a double-decker bacon burger. All recipes are dairy free as the Dunning sons, Aedan and Liam, are lactose intolerant.
Since airing seven weeks ago, the show is gaining international attention.
“We’re hearing from people across Canada,” Andrew said. “It’s motivating us more because now we see people are watching it and we’re getting feedback. We’re having complete strangers taking the time to send us a comment or picture and saying, ‘Our family really enjoyed it.’”
Liam, a graduate of Lethbridge University’s new media program and part owner of Dunning Imagery, said he suggested the idea of a cooking show to his dad a while ago but there was never time to do it – until now.
“It took a little bit of convincing,” he said. “As much as he says he doesn’t like being in front of the camera, once things get going he loves to be in the spotlight.”
With both equipment and time at their disposal, Liam said the show made sense.
“We are both stuck at home and we have this camera gear and all this time,” he said. “It’s showing people what you can do when you don’t have the most gourmet ingredients in the world.”
Liam, who is in charge of filming, directing and editing the show, has plenty of experience in videography through Dunning Imagery and doing contract work for Symbol Syndication in Calgary.
“I love doing videos for restaurants,” he said. “It allows you to be really creative. When you can mix cooking and videography together it’s really cool.”
Liam admits the cooking show is a lot of work. Filming takes two to three hours and editing another eight to 10, yet the hard work is worth it.
“Just being able to spread some positivity during hard times is the number one thing for me,” said Liam. “It might sound cliché, but it’s really why we started doing this. There are so many bad stories right now.”
Liam is also enjoying the time he’s spending with his dad.
“It’s a bonding experience,” he said. “Normally when we’re doing videography we’re both behind the camera. It’s a different dynamic having one of us in front of the camera and the other behind it.”
The icing on the cake for Liam is the public’s reaction to the show.
“What I’m really loving is seeing people send in the recipe of ours that they’ve made,” Liam said. “We put out a video on how to make this mayonnaise chocolate cake and now we’re having people saying, ‘I tried your recipe and it turned out amazing.’ It’s definitely surreal.”
The Dunnings also created a Credit Cooking with Andrew Dunning Facebook page featuring upcoming episodes, discussions with viewers and comments and photographs from those who tried Dunning's recipes @creditcooking.