Stanford sophomore, YouTube star publishes cookbook
Rachel Fong’s popular YouTube channel made her an internet celebrity. The engineering student’s career is hitting a new milestone with the release of a cookbook.
Before joining Stanford, engineering student Rachel Fong, ’21, became an internet celebrity with her popular YouTube channel, Kawaii Sweet World, which features her baking and crafting tutorials. Now, she’s following up the success of her channel with a book, Kawaii Sweet World Cookbook: 75 Yummy Recipes for Baking That’s (Almost) Too Cute to Eat, which will be released July 30.
Like Fong’s channel, her book features original recipes for sweet desserts and snacks like cookies, cupcakes and donuts.
“The book has 75 new recipes that haven’t been on the channel before,” Fong said. “The recipes are just as tasty as they are kawaii.”
Kawaii – the Japanese word for “cute” – is how she describes the overall aesthetic of her culinary creations and videos, characterized by simple and clean graphics that are friendly, playful and colorful. Her recipes are easy to follow and don’t require baking experience.
The cookbook is Fong’s latest venture in her nearly decade-old baking, crafting and social media career. When she was 12 years old she entered a crafting contest that required a video entry. Although she didn’t win, Fong began receiving requests for video tutorials, and her channel grew from there. When it launched, it was unlike anything else in the world of internet vlogging.
“Before my channel, I don’t think anyone was specializing in all things kawaii,” she said. “When I found that niche, I was able to build a community around that shared interest.”
Today, Fong’s YouTube channel has more than 1.2 million subscribers and hundreds of videos that regularly receive hundreds of thousands of views. Some of her most popular videos include “How to Make Homemade Hostess Cupcakes!” which has been viewed more than 2.4 million times, and “How to Make Homemade Marshmallows!” which has 2.7 million views.
After graduating from high school, Fong took a gap year to be a full-time YouTuber. That was also when she signed a book deal with Clarkson Potter, the dedicated lifestyle group within Penguin Random House. Since joining Stanford in the fall of 2017, she’s been busy juggling her studies and her career. During the week she focuses on school, but on the weekends, she returns to her home in nearby Piedmont, California, where she self-produces her videos. She said her busy schedule and the demands of being a Stanford student have been difficult at times, particularly during her freshman year.
“That year did push me past what I thought was possible,” Fong said. “It was challenging to keep up with the YouTube work and the school deadlines and classwork as well. But it was also a great learning experience.”
Although she’s only halfway through her Stanford career, she’s already thinking about avenues to pursue after she graduates, and possibly blending her interests in food and engineering.
“I do want to continue Kawaii Sweet World because I love my audience and those who have supported me,” Fong said. “But I’m also looking to work in product design, specifically applying design thinking in the food innovation industry.”
Fong will host a book launch party at Kepler’s Books in Palo Alto on Aug. 4. The event will include a baking demonstration, activity tables for kids and a cupcake decorating station.
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