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YouTubers use 2m following to give back

Words by Smiley Team

Back in 2010, Jamie Spafford, Ben Ebbrell, Barry Taylor and Mike Huttleston put their heads together and launched a food cooking channel: SORTEDFood

“We were a group of friends who just wanted to make cooking easier,” says Jamie. “Now, we have a huge global community with more than three million followers worldwide."

More than a decade later, two of the co-founder – Ben and Jamie – sat down with Smiley News to share how their YouTube channel has had a positive impact on the world. 

The beginnings of SORTEDFood

“Our initial aim was just to help ourselves, essentially,” Jamie tells Smiley News. “We’d all been to school together, then split off to go to university and it turned out quite quickly that none of us had ever really cooked before leaving home.

“We realised we were struggling to feed ourselves properly. Ben was training to be a chef, so we were texting hims for tips and trips. That’s how it started!”

Fast forward 12 years, and their whole purpose is to consolidate the thinking that happens in chef’s brains, down into something that’s really useful and tangible, says Ben. 

On the channel, the boys do everything from cooking demonstrations, to reviewing equipment, giving meal ideas, or tips and tricks to make home-cooking easier. But over the years, they’ve used their platform for good. 

Using their platform for good

One of those has been a partnership to raise money for the eating disorder charity, Beat

“The partnership came through one of our viewers,” says Jamie, “a girl called Gaia who emailed us saying she had been watching Sorted for years, and found solace in what we were doing. Seeing a group of friends have a healthy relationship around food was enjoyable for her – and she wanted to be a part of that.”

Her email mirrored a lot of other people’s experiences they had seen on email, says Ben. Gaia asked if she could cook in the studio alongside them with her mum – then dropped that her mum just so happened to be Dame Emma Thompson. 

“Emma and Gaia were both ambassadors for Beat charity,” explains Jamie. “They came to the studio and joined in for a fundraising cooking video. We were able to have a great time, create great content, and raise awareness of the work Beat were doing.”

It was great to hear how the charity supports people like Gaia, as well as raise awareness and money for it, too. 

“The moment we pressed publish on that video was just the start of that conversation,” adds Ben. “You could see all the threads of comments underneath with people engaging – the power of it was a lot, and we were able to raise a lot of funds, too.”

The video now has more than half a million views, with nearly 2,000 comments, and the video raised £4,000. 

Supporting communities with Wonderbag

Something the four members of SORTEDFood have always done on the channel is reviewing and testing kitchen gadgets. In 2019, Wonderbag came across their radar. It’s a charity that’s set up to provide non-electric cookers, or insulation bags, that can be provided to communities without access to cooking facilities. It’s particularly helpful for those in disadvantaged communities – over six hours, the bag becomes a slow cooker. 

“We thought this was a brilliant idea,” says Ben. “We filmed a video, and reached out to the charity to say we wanted to donate and purchase a number of bags for the communities they support – we also shared this with our followers.”

After filming the video, they added links to support Wonderbag and were blown away by the response. “Thousands of people donated to the charity, which bought bags for communities within South Africa. We raised more than $100,000, it was mind-blowing.”

The charity has since told them how these donations made such a huge difference. “We want to get out and go and visit these communities to see the difference it has made,” says Jamie. “We had no idea the power of a community when they come together, they really want to make a difference.”

Tackling the rising cost of living

In their latest move to give back, the members of SORTEDFood are focusing on helping people deal with the rising cost of living crisis. “We want to look at where our focus is and what we can do to help the biggest amount of people,” says Jamie. 

In March 2022, they launched 'Sidekick', an app to help home-cooks make amazing meals created by chefs, whilst saving at least 30% on their food bills and cut their food waste. “We want the app to become a really great tool to help people through that planing and cooking stage,” says Jamie. 

The team of chefs at Sorted have designed smart recipes inspired by the latest food trends and world cuisine, that are packed full of money-saving hacks and help take the strain out of everyday meal planning. Each recipe on the app will deliver a tasty meal for less than £4 per portion and under 30 minutes to make (£4.99 per month).

Each week the Sidekick app publishes a wide choice of ‘Recipe Packs’, each containing three awesome recipes and one simple shopping list, all cleverly designed to leave users with no food waste at the end of the week. 

Inspired to act?

DOWNLOAD: You can download the Sidekick app to reduce food waste and cut costs here.

DONATE: Donate to Beat charity to help them continue their mission of supporting those suffering from eating disorders.

SUPPORT: Wonderbag helps families cook food, save fuel, reduce time poverty, and diminsh pollution. Support them here.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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