Cosplay is great, but for fans hungry to express their fandom, geeky food is a way tastier proposition. Foodie fans recreate their favorite fictional foodstuffs seen in video games or on TV, or just make edible creations inspired by beloved properties that are on par with the best fan art. While companies like Marvel are even getting in on the fun with cooking shows on YouTube, fans have been doing this for years and one of the most impressive geeky cooking shows that can help you bring your delicious dreams to life is Feast of Fiction.
Feast of Fiction was started seven years ago by hosts Ashley Adams and Jimmy Wong (disclosure: Wong has worked with SYFY WIRE in the past) who met by chance at a birthday party at Disneyland. Wong had already been dreaming up a TV show that married food and pop culture, and meeting Adams helped make it more than just a fantasy.
They were both at the party as plus-one guests, so it was natural that they wound up talking to one another. Wong mentioned his show idea while Adams mentioned she liked to bake and that she was interested in being a TV personality. He asked her about making a cake and the self-taught baker showed him an impressive creation, a cake in the shape of a dead body with a sheet over it like you would see in a mortuary, which she had made for a friend. The conversation led to them planning to meet up in the future so she could give him some kitchen pointers.
Little did Adams know that it would also be a pilot episode.
“I wasn't super into any sci-fi or video games or any of that stuff. The nerdy aspect of Feast of Fiction is what we all love about Jimmy," Adams said. “I show up there to help him make a cake and essentially he’s like, 'OK, you ready to shoot something?’”
Suddenly they were filming an episode of Feast of Fiction on the spot. Adams told SYFY WIRE it wasn’t a disaster, but it was uncomfortable since it was only the second interaction between the two burgeoning friends. Wong admits that he has a bad tendency of not prepping people enough before just jumping into things. For him, it was very serendipitous to have met Adams when he did because one of the first things he wanted to make for the show was something from Minecraft.
“Working with fondant was completely new to me and I had no idea how to do it. When I met Ashley and saw she worked with fondant, had done these awesome cake designs for her friends, [and] had a passion for baking, she was the missing ingredient, to use the word no pun intended, as to what I didn’t have in the show in terms of cooking prowess," Wong says. "The fact that she wanted to be in the hosting world too, there was no better combination."
Any awkwardness in that original episode has long since faded away, and a long run of more polished videos has earned them over one million subscribers on YouTube. Since that Minecraft cake, Feast of Fiction has tackled food from many other sources like Steven Universe, Star Wars, and Naruto. Their favorites among the videos include Reptar Bars from Rugrats for Adams and Krabby Patties from SpongeBob Squarepants for Wong.
The hosts never have to worry about coming up with ideas for their show, as they receive so many requests on the channel. They look at those requests and consider what’s current and relevant in pop culture when choosing what to make next. Wong said every recipe has been its own unique challenge.
“A lot of fiction often gravitates towards baking and desserts that are cake-based just because I think authors and game designers like to make stuff that is visually appealing," Wong says. "Oftentimes we’ll receive a lot of requests that are much more on the baking side than the cooking side. Those are a unique challenge. When there’s a visual reference for an item in a game or a movie, it poses the unique challenge of how do we make this look like this at the same time making it edible?"
Wong said one of the recipes they’ll probably never do, no matter how many requests they get, is Soylent Green. The ingredients are just too complicated.
According to Wong, over the years they’ve tried to improve on making recipes both tasty and fitting into the fictional world. Sometimes the recipe will be more of a visual nod to what it’s referencing rather than an exact replica, but they shoot for verisimilitude whenever possible.
“We’re always trying to get closer to that ideal mark which is a mix between making the thing that looks great and is exactly what people want to see and also something that is tasty and can be replicated by someone in the kitchen and provide a tasty result in the end,” he said. “It speaks a lot to Ashley and the producers that we have helping with recipes that are simple and at the same time complex enough to make a great food item at the end of the day.”
Adams said they’ve improved in doing this as can be seen in their recent revisiting of that first Minecraft cake. They remade it and to Adams, it’s more visually pleasing and tasty than the cake from seven years ago.
“I think we’ve done a good job in refining that area of expertise and making things more from scratch as opposed to before when maybe our focus was in different directions like other things going on and sometimes Feast of Fiction may not have always gotten the attention that it may have needed,” Adams explained. “We might have developed a recipe using a cake mix or something and now we try to definitely like Jimmy said make recipes tasty and that families will want to do at home that have some better nutrient value."
Turning Feast of Fiction into a viable a business has been a priority, as has engaging with the fans who give them their ideas and watch their videos. while knowing where they find their passion each time to keep it going.
“It’s the moments when you see an interaction in the comments that is really wholesome on an internet filled with toxicity and awfulness. If we can be a part of fostering more of that in the world, even if it is just us being silly in front of the camera and laughing and bringing a little bit of happiness to someone’s life or helping them improve a relationship with someone else by cooking with them or hosting or going to a party and bringing a dish everyone talks about,” he said. “Even if we can be passively a part of that and putting more of that in the world, I think that’s what makes the whole thing worth it.”
While others may be online offering options for how to make fictional food as well, Adams doesn’t see them as competition but instead as possible inspiration.
“Even though Feast of Fiction is one of the original known reputable fictional food outlets on YouTube and there have been many others since in seven years, I think everyone has kind of been a source of inspiration to us,” she explained. “We’ll watch them and see what other people find interesting to cook fictionally and sometimes we draw inspiration from episodes or whatnot. I think a lot of the other content online has been a source of inspiration for us.”
The show will clearly continue to make our stomachs growl while our imaginations sore as it closes in on a decade of providing delicious content.