In this episode, Ragnar talks with Max Miller, YouTube sensation and host of Tasting History. Every Tuesday, Max uses food to bring history to life for his 820k subscribers. He recreates dishes from the past using historical recipes, updated for the modern kitchen. Through fascinating stories and flavors, hear how he came to explore the plates of Medieval times, the Renaissance era, ancient Rome, Mesopotamia, and beyond.
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When Max Miller arrived at his office’s 2019 Christmas party with homemade historic baked goods in hand, a colleague suggested he start a YouTube channel to share his historic goodies with a wider audience. Though Max had made a practice of surprising his coworkers with historic breakroom snacks methodically researched and created in his kitchen, at the time, he didn’t give the idea too much thought. Then, the pandemic hit and Max was furloughed from his job at Walt Disney Studios. Faced with a sudden glut of free time and a citywide stay-at- home order, he returned to the idea of a YouTube channel.
“I wanted to tell people right away what they’d be getting: Food and History,” the Phoenix- born, Los Angeles-based creator shares. “‘Tasting History’ seemed like a more interesting name than ‘Food and History,’ but in the first episodes, I didn’t actually taste the food on camera!”
As it turns out, Max wasn’t the only one excited about exploring and recreating historical food on camera. Within weeks, his videos were reaching hundreds of thousands of viewers who wanted to learn more about historic dishes like Garum, an ancient Roman condiment, medieval cheese, Civil War bread pudding and more.
For his part, Max’s favorite part of ‘Tasting History’s growing audience has been the chance to learn more about different cultures. A partnership with the Taste of India Food Festival to recreate a dish from 12th Century India led to the opportunity to take a deep dive into Indian history and cuisine.
“The research took longer than usual, but that was because I became enthralled and kept falling down rabbit holes,” Max adds.
He’s had a chance to discover the humorous side of history too. When researching the history of brie cheese, Max uncovered a cheese-related anecdote about the late rulers of France.
“King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette dressed as peasants in order to flee Paris to the safety of one of their chateaux. When they had almost made it to safety, Louis, overcome with a desire for Brie cheese and wine, forced the party to stop at an inn so he could indulge. They were recognized, arrested, and not long after, Louis and Marie were beheaded. All for the love of cheese.”
Learn more on this episode of World on a Plate.
About our Guest
When he’s not researching or cooking for an episode of ‘Tasting History,’ Max spends his time absorbing period dramas and murder mystery films, flexing his classically trained singing chops and playing board games with his fiancé. “I can play one game for 10 hours and am happy as a clam,” he laughs. When the time comes, he can’t wait to indulge his other great love, travel. “If I had my way, I would travel most of the year,” he shares. “Getting to experience new places and new people is the best way to learn.” Max is also an animal lover, adopting a new manatee every year through Save the Manatee, and a supporter of The Human Rights Campaign.
When asked about what keeps him motivated to learn and create, Max shares, “The weight of history inspires me. Whenever I feel unmotivated or depressed, I read about people like Galileo, Charles Darwin, Harriet Tubman or the G.I.s storming the beaches of Normandy. It’s not one person, but the many, many stories of people whose deeds dwarf anything I could ever be dealing with. It always puts things into perspective.”
‘Tasting History’ combines that historical perspective with Max’s authentic charm and clear passion for the subject. And what has he learned from turning a professional roadblock into a successful creative project?
“Sometimes, what seems like the worst thing can lead to an amazing opportunity. I’m not a professional cook or historian, just a lover of both who has turned a passion into something that resonates.”
Follow Max for the latest from Tasting History on all your favorite social channels:
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tastinghist…
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/TastingHistory1
- Tiktok: TastingHistory
- Reddit: r/TastingHistory
- Discord: https://discord.gg/d7nbEpy
Have a historical recipe of your own? Click here to submit it! We’ll share your work with chefs around the world.
Read (and taste!) the history behind delicious recipes from Worldchefs member Chef Luis Soto Villalta, including Lapland Smoked Trout, Castilian Roasted Suckling Pig, and Andalusian “Espeto”. You can also find more from Chef Luis, check out Blancmanger: from Royal Banquets to Oblivion on page 41 of Worldchefs Magazine Issue 26.
For more on food history, tune in to our World on a Plate episodes with Alan Coxon, Patrice van Ackere, and Manjit Gill.
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Special thanks to Max Miller for joining as a guest.
World on a Plate is supported by Nestlé Professional and our podcast sponsors.