JAGODINA, Serbia | What to cook today?
Serbs looking for ideas are increasingly turning to the Balkan country’s 69-year-old hit chef Granny Jela, who has put her life-long experience to good use and launched an online cooking tutorial.
Her real name is Jelena Petrovic and her YouTube channel and blog dubbed Bakina Kuhinja (“Granny’s Kitchen”) have had more than 50 million views and nearly 150,000 subscribers who check in daily for a new recipe of home-made food.
Self-styled and aided by her husband Milan, who is behind the camera and does grocery shopping, Granny Jela has become a local celebrity and an internet sensation, winning an award last year.
“All you need is love, the will and desire to do something,” Petrovic told The Associated Press in an interview. “Anything can be done only if you really want to do it.”
It all started about a decade ago when Petrovic launched an online forum to share her recipes of home-made dishes — from soups to cooked meals, meat, sweets, home-made bread or pastry.
Slowly at first, the list of followers grew and Petrovic started a blog and began posting videos, made initially with her cellphone and as of recently with a more sophisticated camera.
Along the way, Petrovic conquered online skills.
“I didn’t even know how to use a computer mouse at first,” she said. “But I Googled a lot and read hundreds of tutorials.”
Nowadays, Petrovic’s channel is a full-time preoccupation. After a morning tea, the couple gets down to work from grocery shopping to filming, editing and posting, she explained.
“It is exhausting, from early morning to late evening,” Petrovic said, explaining mistakes are possible “like in any movie.”
But, she added, “my viewers wait for a new recipe every morning. If I am late, they ask if I am well and what is happening.”
Petrovic said she prepares her dishes in her own kitchen, from local food that can be found in shops and markets in Serbia and in the way generations have done before her.
Often, viewers write that the recipes bring back warm memories of childhood.
“My recipes are all local, traditional home-food recipes,” Petrovic explained. “I make things my mother or grandmother used to make.”
Who eats all the food?
“Oh, I give some of it to the neighbors and friends, but I pack the sweets for my grandchildren,” Petrovic says with a smile.