Stanford undergrad talks YouTube success and landing a cookbook deal

Rachel Fong
Rachel Fong, creator and host of Kawaii Sweet World (Courtesy of Rachel Fong)

Every year Stanford welcomes students with diverse and varied backgrounds. Among this year’s frosh is an internet celebrity baker and artisan.

The next time you’re on YouTube, check out “Kawaii Sweet World,” created and hosted by RACHEL FONG. The channel’s popularity led to a publishing deal with a cookbook coming out next year.

Launched in 2011, Fong’s channel is something of a pioneer when it comes to making baked confectionary items that are as cute as they are sweet. Fong originally got the idea from entering a crafting competition that required her to make a video. Although she didn’t win, afterward she had several people ask for crafting tutorial videos.

“Kawaii, which means cute in Japanese, is really the heart and passion of my channel,” she said. “At the time I was starting out, there weren’t a whole lot of channels that were about making cute things, so getting into that niche helped to set me apart.”

Fong’s first shows were on craft making, but she morphed the focus of her channel to baked goods. “Baking is something that I really enjoy doing so I decided to upload a couple of tutorials onto my channel which ended up getting a lot of positive feedback.”

Between YouTube and Facebook, “Kawaii Sweet World” has more than 2 million followers and will soon be augmented by a cookbook featuring new recipes from its host.

“I’m really excited about the cookbook,” she said. “The book is set to come out in summer of 2019 and will feature recipes that I’m currently working on and that haven’t been shown on my channel.”

The book deal, announced in Publishers Weekly in September, was made with Clarkson Potter, a subsidiary of Crown Publishing, which publishes other well-known chefs and bakers such as Bobby Flay and Martha Stewart.

While making cute confections has been a tremendous success, what drew Fong to Stanford are her other passions – computer science and mathematical computation.

“Stanford has been in the back of my mind for a long time as a kind of dream school for me,” Fong said. “There aren’t a whole lot of women in the STEM field, and I’m passionate about more female representation in the industry. And Stanford is really one of the best places in the U.S. to study computer science and STEM research.”