Grandmas can be a terrific source for stories, wisdom and of course, great food.
A new web series, created by Astoria resident Caroline Shin, aims to weave good food and good stories together by focusing on the women who make it all possible: grannies.
“‘Cooking with Granny’ is a web series featuring awesome grandmas cooking dishes from their culture,” Shin said. “While they’re doing so, they share their personal stories about moving to the United States.”
Shin’s inspiration for the show came from interactions with her own granny, Sanok Kim of Corona.
“I started it in 2012 and that was with my own grandma because she has always been my inspiration,” she said. “She’s just such a go-getter. She came here from Korea in the ’60s and adjusted to life here. Me and my sister used to sit with her and make dumplings together and just talk. It became a really endearing dish that caters to my heart.”
While Shin acknowledges all grandmothers have stories and good food to share, “Cooking with Granny” focuses solely on those who immigrated to this country.
“When you go to another country, it becomes a different chapter in your life, you’re in a completely different environment,” Shin said. “My grandma doesn’t know English and she told me that it was extremely difficult when she first moved here because when you’re an immigrant, you have to discover your cultural niche.”
For members of the older generation who struggle with the language, even everyday tasks can be difficult, but Shin said her grandma doesn’t let it get to her.
“She thinks every hamburger, no matter the restaurant, is a Big Mac,” she said. “We would go to Wendy’s or Burger King and she’d ask for a Big Mac. That stuck with me and my siblings, it’s a testament to what an awesome lady she is.”
The videos will run from five to eight minutes each, though preparing the food can take much longer in actuality. Shin said she likes to keep the videos just long enough to hear the granny stories but short enough to maintain viewers’ attention.
While filming, Shin, who is a multimedia journalist, said she likes to bring out her warm personality, crack a few jokes and make sure the grandmas are comfortable.
“With my grandma, I kind of just joke around a lot,” she said. “I love corny jokes and I love clownish things, so I’ll do a stupid dance or mess around with my grandma to keep her comfortable.”
While “Cooking with Granny” is a light affair overall, Shin said she doesn’t want to sugarcoat the strife immigrants can go through.
“I’m looking for sad stories as well,” she said. “My grandma was in North Korea during the Korean War and she told me about how she took her family and migrated down to South Korea. It was a hard time for her. On the other hand, the icing on the cake is that they’re here right now so there was a light at the end of the tunnel after the hardships.”
With a handful of episodes featuring her grandmother under her belt, Shin is looking to expand the show and cook with grannies from different cultures.
“Food is culture and culture is food,” she said. “Food is a colorful, flavorful, manifestation of culture. Who doesn’t love food? I want to get as many different cultures in the remaining episodes as I can.”
To fuel her efforts, Shin launched a Kickstarter campaign on April 22 to raise funds for production. If she does not reach her $11,000 goal, she will not receive any funding, as part of Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing model.
Money raised will go toward transportation, crew and equipment, ingredients, fliers, editing and more.
“I really want the younger generation to appreciate their grandmothers,” she said. “I have seen pretechnology times and now I’m totally immersed in it but these grandmas appreciate the world without technology. They have these awesome stories to tell.”