My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going With Your Gut looks a lot like a cookbook. It’s shaped like a cookbook. It has food photos on the cover—a group of bananas rendered anthropomorphic by Sharpie, messy nachos—and one of author Hannah Hart exuberantly pouring what appears to be champagne into a mason jar. And yet, if judged by its (back) cover, where the word “cookbook” appears in quotation marks, one might begin to suspect that it is not, in fact, a cookbook.
Where then, in one’s extensive home library, should this book be shelved?
“That’s a great question, because it’s really not a cookbook,” says Hart. (Aha!) “I’ve always wanted to write a book of narrative essays or comedy essays about my life, somewhere between David Sedaris and Jeannette Walls. My Drunk Kitchen was originally called Recipes for Disaster, and it was all words, no pictures—that was the first iteration of it—but now I would say it’s self-help parody/lifestyle satire. If you have that section on your bookshelf, that’s where it goes.”
Oh! So next to I Like You by Amy Sedaris.
“It would be terribly, terribly presumptuous to compare it to I Like You,” Hart says. “That book is really phenomenal, that’s a great book. Amy Sedaris is a total genius, and I am such a huge fan of her books. My Drunk Kitchen is a gesture towards that, but not quite there yet.”
These are humble words from the inventor of Thanksgiving Pie (more on this later) and someone with 425,000 Twitter followers. Hart is a modern superstar, creator of My Drunk Kitchen, the YouTube comedy series with over 1.3 million subscribers that lends its name to the book. Fame has landed her “In Bed with Joan” (Rivers) and at the White House, where, as part of a YouTube contingent, she advised President Obama on online outreach (really). Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver cooks with Hart in a very special MDK episode airing the day the book hits stores.
In the book, Hart explains the “happy accident” of her meteoric rise thus:
In March 2011, I was lonely and got really drunk and put it on the Internet. In March 2012, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in entertainment. In March 2013, my roommate and I launched a campaign to raise over $200,000 and travel across the country doing charity work culminating in over 100,000 pounds of food being redistributed and over 94,000 people fed. And now in 2014, I am writing my first book. If you can figure out how that happened, you let me know. For now I am just grateful that so many people around me allowed this to happen. So thank you.
Hence, My Drunk Kitchen is an inspirational autobiographical work that aims to give back. Hart hands out encouragements, insights and top-shelf puns with both hands—like the family at your favorite neighborhood house on Halloween!—in recipe form. Take Thanksgiving Pie, for example: “one fully baked store-bought cheesecake, one can of cherry pie filling and holiday-related baggage that is manifesting in this weird way right now” are the ingredients for a sweet treat not only looks pretty edible and tastes even better, but diffuses up to a year’s worth of familial apprehension: “This year for Thanksgiving don’t bottle up all of your holiday-centric angst for an inappropriate outburst before/after/during the meal—try this instead!” This is essentially mashing a hand into the top of the cake.
“Life Lesson: Wash your hands first. Clean plate. Clean slate,” she writes.
Hart knows that a good laugh has the same ability as a good meal to bring people together. After all, MDK transcended one-and-done viral video status by building a community.
“I think that people think of the internet as this really isolating place, and I feel the opposite,” Hart says. “The internet is made up of people. If you’re somewhere that doesn’t have a lot of culture, if you’re in a place that doesn’t really have a lot of people like you, with the internet, no matter where you are, you can find your community, which is so amazing. That’s really a wonderful thing.”
Megan Labrise is a freelance writer and columnist based in New York. Follow her on Twitter.