The team behind Sorted have turned a promo video for a self-published cookbook into the most-watched YouTube cookery channel in the UK. So what’s next for the youngsters who are making cooking cool? Simon Creasey finds out

Who needs Jamie? That seemed to be the message when Sainsbury’s announced earlier this month that it was parting ways with its long-term brand ambassador.

The split was presented as amicable, but perhaps it dawned on the retailer that Oliver wasn’t the draw he once was. Or maybe it was his infatuation with food campaigning instead of cooking that sealed the deal.

Either way, when the partnership was at its height both parties benefited from the arrangement, so there’s little doubt Sainsbury’s will start the search for a successor soon if it hasn’t already (Lorraine Pascale has been linked with the retailer). It could do a lot worse than check out the team behind internet sensation Sorted.

This bunch of trendy twenty-somethings overtook Oliver earlier this year to become the UK’s largest YouTube cookery channel. They’re currently drawing 800,000 video views a month, they’ve sold more than 15,000 copies of their self-published cookbooks, won behind-the-scenes support from the TV production company behind Pop Idol and at the moment they’re attracting a number of high-profile publishing and TV companies trying to dream up ways to monetise what the brand has to offer. Which is great-tasting, honest food that’s fun and easy to create think Delia’s Cheats presented by hip youngsters and aimed at rookie cooks.

Like many great ideas, the genesis for Sorted was fuelled by alcohol. About three years ago Barry Taylor, Ben Ebbrell and a bunch of student friends would meet up in the local pub when they were home from university. Ebbrell, who was studying culinary arts management, was horrified by his friend’s diets of takeaways and Pot Noodles, so he would write easy-to-follow recipes on the backs of beer mats and dole them out.

Over time, these recipes evolved into a student cookbook. To promote the self-published title, the group made rough and ready cookery videos that they posted on YouTube. Before they knew it, the number of YouTube followers had grown from a handful of friends to hundreds of rookie cooks across the UK. They realised that they were on to something big, so in June last year Sorted’s dedicated YouTube channel and website was born and the number of followers of the weekly recipe videos continued to grow. Sorted expects to break through the million views a month mark any day soon incredible for a group of friends larking around in front of a camera and having a good time.

But then that’s exactly why Sorted works, says Ebbrell. “The essence of Sorted is social cooking having fun with your mates in a kitchen. Cooking shouldn’t be a chore it can be a laugh and we want to show that a night in can be as good as a night out,” he explains.

What’s drawing the TV and publishing companies to the brand is the nature of Sorted’s online followers. These are typically 17 to 30-year-old graduates and young professionals in essence the difficult-to-reach AAA covenant advertising catchment who seek their entertainment via the internet, not more traditional media.

Sorted’s tagline is “bringing content to a generation via the platforms where they spend most of their time”. And that’s where they intend to stay, despite the temptation to branch out into what might be considered a more conventional direction, explains Ebbrell.

“We’re talking to a number of TV people and it all sounds very exciting but Sorted belongs where its users are on social media platforms.” That’s not to say that the idea of their own TV programme doesn’t appeal but based on the discussions they’ve had with production companies they’ve established that if they wanted to go mainstream the brand would need to change. That’s something that they’re not prepared to compromise on. “Our content is driven by our audience and by doing what we love, and we’re not prepared to give that up for the sake of TV,” says Taylor.

But given the youthful audience, how will they ensure that their content continues to be fresh and reaches out to their target demographic in the future? The beauty of the Sorted model is that it’s not focused on individuals it’s all about the brand, counters Taylor.

“In 10 years Ben and I will still be running Sorted but we will replenish the team year after year. We’re shifting all the time depending on where the market goes, so we will always be trendy.”

Unlike their idol Jamie Oliver. When Sorted launched three years ago the Naked Chef’s star was already on the wane Oliver had grown up and so had his audience.

“There was no one filling the gap that he left behind so we said ‘let’s go for it and see what happens’. Three years down the line there’s no one there but us,” says Taylor. “We’re the UK’s largest cookery channel on YouTube so we’re in good stead to be the next Jamie, but we’re going to get there in a completely different way.” 

Michael Huttlestone

Age: 24
Crew role: Musical maestro
Favourite recipe: Adult jelly
The Sorted team met at Chancellor’s Secondary School in Brookmans Park, Herts. Huttlestone assists in many of the videos and also provides Sorted’s musicial inspiration.


Age: 24
Crew role: Comedy king
Favourite recipe: Rocky road
Spafford works full-time on Sorted alongside Ebrell and Taylor. His main role is to work up the comedy sketches. Other members of the original team of nine still participate in Sorted’s skits.


Age: 24
Crew role: Head chef
Favourite recipe: Beef and Guinness stew
Studied culinary arts management before becoming a chef. Ebbrell won Market Kitchen’s Talent Search competition to find the next celebrity chef.


Age: 24
Crew role: Creative director
Favourite recipe: Sweet ‘n’ sour chicken
Taylor studied photography at Central St Martins. He was a photographer’s assistant for Mary McCartney and a private snapper for Richard Branson.