“God gave you hands. You a chef. Chef up that boysenberry creme brulee, man.” — “20 Karat Jesus” Freddie Gibbs, 2017
What do Guy Fieri, Anthony Bourdain, and Bobby Flay have in common? They’re all old white guys cooking up mouth-savoring meals on television. But a new generation of fresh young talent may be on the horizon. The movement is called “culinary trapping” and it’s gathering heat all over the country.
Hugo Jamieson had no idea an innocuous tweet sent out one summer’s night was going to turn him into a viral cooking star. The 26-year-old posted a collage of a few meals he cooked up, along with the caption, “I quit my job as a dope boy to become a recreational home cook… a simple RT can go a long way, so I don’t [recidivate].” The tweet amassed over 40,000 retweets.
I contacted Jamieson to get more information and to make sure he was legit (since apparently Twitter is filled with Russian trolls). “Is this dude deadass?,” I wondered before sliding into his DMs with hopes for a reply. As I soon found out, the self-taught chef was about as serious about his game as Gordon Ramsay is about Beef Wellington.
“It started around 2015,” Jamieson told me during an on-the-record phone conversation. “I still had all my drug paraphernalia that I kept, basically. Scales, measuring cups, etc.”
After a stint in jail, Jamieson came home disappointed by his Colorado town’s food options and began cooking for himself. Soon, it started to get boring. The would-be chef wanted to branch out — he started craving for more than the basic, ordinary meals he was prepping for himself. How many times can a guy eat spaghetti and meatballs before wanting more?
“I just started reading food blogs and watching TV cooking shows. And it got to the point where I started going to the grocery store and started seeing all this stuff that I’ve never cooked with before.”
No more boring ass meals for the amateur chef. Jamieson was now upgrading from fried tilapia to dishes like ribeye steak with “parmesan golden potato mash, roasted lemon asparagus” and “Marble score 9 Australian Wagyu pitas.” He also started sharing it all on social media. But what really hooked fans was his meal prepping — like he was chilling at the trap house.
“I started weighing it and stuff like that and started filming videos,” Jamieson says. “It got to a point where it had a real dope boy vibe to it. So we called it ‘Culinary Trapping.'”
The chef’s amateur videos are shot POV-style and typically feature Jamieson weighing ingredients on a digital scale while using colorful language to describe his prepping and cooking technique. All this to the tune of rap music playing in the background. One video advises viewers not to waste their time making ravioli from scratch “unless you love that bitch.” Truer words have never been spoken.
Another October 2016 video opens up with Jamieson smoking gas, blasting rap music you wouldn’t hear on the radio and explaining why it’s necessary to brine salmon when making slow-roasted salmon with herbs, heirloom tomatoes, and onions.
“I already brined the salmon in some saltwater. You gotta brine ya salmon if you gon slow roast the shit, so the albumin don’t ooze out. That’s that white shit.”
Hey, the man knows his stuff, and he’s hoping to learn more in the future because right now his baking is nowhere near elite status.
“Creme brulee or any baked dish from scratch is the hardest for me to make,” Jamieson admits. “Once you put it in the oven, you can’t change anything about it or add anything until you get it out. So I don’t really bake as much, but I want to learn how to!”
He eventually sees himself going to culinary school in the future. Perhaps a two-year program, “just so I can get the building blocks,” he emphatically adds.
As for the eye-catching name, Jamieson says he wasn’t the first to coin Culinary Trapping, revealing, “I felt like I came up with the name but when I looked back on social media, somebody was already claiming it… but they didn’t trademark it before me.”
Truthfully, the urban take on cuisine also isn’t all that original either. Before Auntie Fee died of a heart attack earlier this year, the 59-year-old cooking sensation was helping millions make some “good ass chicken” with her YouTube videos. There’s also Trap Kitchen, a catering company founded by two former gang rivals who now service California via Instagram. The men also have a cookbook coming out in December named after their catering company. And while it’s run by a white Hollywood couple donning digital blackface, the widely popular Thug Kitchen still, somehow, exists (though, my god, the food is terrible).
Still, there remains a huge market for Jamieson’s creations.
#CulinaryTrapping yields loads and loads of mouthwatering pictures on Twitter with other enthusiasts uploading culinary creations that make you want to lick your screen. Jamieson has also teamed up with another foodie, Jeremy Prater, to take Culinary Trapping to new heights. Prater, a 24-year-old Cincinnati native, admits that unlike Jamieson, he wasn’t a d-boy. He just grew up listening to d-boy tales.
“He was the first one I ever saw do #CulinaryTrapping,” Prater says. “It was interesting to me because he’s really weighing stuff out and going to Whole Foods. I was like, ‘Man, that’s really neat. Culinary Trapping. That’s really dope! I like the name.'”
Prater says he reached out to Jamieson first to get his blessing before registering a website and running with the idea on social media, too. “I started cooking and trappin’ out the kitchen, basically,” Prater says with an infectious laugh.
Like Jamieson, Prater is entirely self-taught and learned most of his skills by making mistakes and not being afraid to get creative in the kitchen. After all, food shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be as dull as 50 rehashed TV shows might make it seem.
“My sister had this fire mac and cheese recipe,” Prater says of his first Culinary Trapping meal, “but I was bored and trying something new. So I bought the coconut, I bought the cheese, put the shrimp, bacon. All that. That was probably one of my favorite things I ever cooked in my life.”
Prater always had cooking in his blood. His parents are from the south with his mom hailing from Louisiana, and his dad from Mississippi. So throwing down on some chitlins or grilling gizzards is easy peasy for the amateur chef.
“It doesn’t matter what the cuisine is,” he says. “I just want to learn cooking. I’ve done enchiladas before. I’ve done brisket before. I’ve done sushi. I just love cooking. It’s fun to me.”
Presently, Jamieson continues cooking for fun and occasionally caters dinner parties. My advice that he start a YouTube vlog wasn’t one that he hasn’t heard before, as fans have been requesting a series for the longest, but procrastination is a beast.
“I just haven’t done it,” he admits. “I don’t know why, to be honest.”
Prater is still building out the Culinary Trapping website which currently serves as a blog with a couple of recipes. His entrepreneurial spirit also has him selling plates in the San Marcos area of Texas. As he explains it, soul food is a little scarce down there.
“There aren’t that many black chefs out here,” Prater says. “When people want to get food, you can’t find, for lack of a better word, soul food. I’m trying to provide a service. I’m trying to be the plug!”
The young hustler already has a business partner to help with marketing, advertising, motivation, and getting ideas in line.
“This is something I want to do full time,” he adds, and it definitely shows. Prater has already printed up dope t-shirts and buttons for the #brand.
Both Jamieson and Prater feel Culinary Trapping can do extraordinary things — namely: showcasing what cool young black men are capable of, in an industry where they’re grossly underrepresented. Because while there are many talented chefs in pop culture and on our television sets, it always seems like black people are given just one spot and one spot only in spaces usually saturated with white people.
“You don’t see a lot of black chefs out here,” Prater accurately reflects. “You got Gordon Ramsay, Andrew Zimmern, and stuff like that, but you don’t see a lot of black chefs out here. Especially the personality aspect of it. Especially with African-Americans. We gotta put our flavor on it! Make it look nice!”
Jamieson echoes those same sentiments, adding that he initially started Culinary Trapping to show young black men that they can get in the cooking game.
“It’s not hard,” he says. “I’m trying to get some things out to show young black men that they can do this, too!”