On a cold December afternoon, Netta Hardin is in her kitchen making vegan cream of broccoli soup. The recipe contains six basic ingredients: broccoli, olive oil, onion, vegetable broth, russet potatoes and cashews, plus kosher salt and pepper to taste.
Across the small kitchen island, Netta’s mother, Allyson Perling, holds an iPhone with a microphone and tripod attached. She moves quickly around the room, capturing close-ups of the ingredients while repeating a simple prompt, “What are you doing, Netta?” »
Netta washes her hands, roughly chops the potatoes, sweat the onion, and adds everything else to the pot. When it’s time to mash, it hits the hand blender and starts bouncing up and down.
“What are you doing, Netta?” Perling asks again. “It’s my mixing dance!” Netta said smiling at the camera, not missing a beat.
Although Netta has never made this exact recipe before, she has made hundreds of others, many of which were her own inventions. Apple cider glazed apple donuts, almond apricot and coconut miso cake, sweet potato parsnip latkes and dozens of other gluten-free and dairy-free recipes are included. at the center of his YouTube cooking channel, “Noshing with Netta,” which started as a pandemic hobby in November 2020.
A little over a year later, “Noshing with Netta” has become a real brand, with over 100 videos, a personalized logo and website, Facebook and Instagram accounts, and official products (20% of profits benefit Minnesota Central Kitchen, a meal program launched by Second Harvest Heartland at the start of the pandemic).
Netta’s recipes and her palpable passion for her craft struck a chord with foodies, cooking beginners, people with food allergies and her St. Paul neighborhood, where she is known on the streets and in stores. from the city. She’s also a bit of a celebrity at school, where many of her classmates knew her from YouTube before they met her in real life.
Perling says her 19-year-old daughter has been eating since she was able to speak. A “food TV junkie,” Netta learned to cook by watching shows like “Chopped”, “Barefoot Contessa” and “Iron Chef America”. All of his childhood birthday parties were food-themed, and past Halloween costumes included a shiitake mushroom and a chef from “The Next Food Network Star”.
Her culinary knowledge shines in every episode as she educates viewers on techniques such as setting up, talks about the tools she uses, and shares cooking facts, such as the high smoke point of olive oil. avocado or the acidity of its coriander sauce.
“Netta has always had the heart and soul of a chef. She loves to cook and make others happy with her food,” said Perling.
It takes a village
Netta’s drive to create the channel was supported by many family members, friends and mentors. She is also an entrepreneur and natural trader, and is known to make friends wherever she goes.
“Netta is built for business and isn’t afraid to talk to anyone. She loves showing people what she does and what she’s capable of in the kitchen,” said Meagan Nishi, Community Learning Coordinator. working on the Next Step Transition program. in North St. Paul, where Netta is a student.
The first 90 or so videos were family affairs: mom working on camera, dad Glenn Hardin and their goldendoodle, Kyra, doing cameos and some basic editing on iMovie. It was a labor of love bordering on a part-time job, but for Netta and her family it was worth it.
“Netta is self-taught and has led the creation and direction of ‘Noshing with Netta’. We will continue to follow her example as she grows and discovers more opportunities,” said Perling.
A bright future
One of Netta’s many fans is Laurie McCann Crowell, owner of Golden Fig Fine Foods on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. When Netta came to her stall at the St. Paul Farmers’ Market last summer, Crowell immediately recognized her.
“Netta does what she loves and you can smell it,” said Crowell, who has herself done hundreds of cooking segments on Twin Cities Live. “I’m glad that something that makes Netta so happy is making others so happy. I can’t wait to see what she’s going to cook next.”
In December, Netta was invited to sell her baked goods for the first time at a book launch party for Cow Tipping Press, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that teaches creative writing to adults with disabilities. intellectual and publishes their work.
“Netta is very bubbly, positive and has fantastic energy,” said Rachel Lieberman, program director for Cow Tipping. “I hope she will continue to have all the opportunities she wants to access and see ‘Noshing with Netta’ in our local stores and events.”
In its second season, “Noshing with Netta” became a professional production. Perling still serves as a producer, and the father and dog make an occasional appearance with guest tasters. Video editing, closed captioning, music and social media were all praised. Netta’s power and culinary expertise remain unchanged.
No matter where “Noshing with Netta” goes from here, one thing is clear: Netta is making her culinary dream come true.
Erica Wacker is a writer based in St. Paul. She was invited to be a guest taster on the vegan cream of broccoli soup episode of “Noshing with Netta” and can confirm that it was delicious.
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