Shay Carl Gives the Finalists a Tutorial in Viral Videos [Interview]

by in Interviews, June 24, 2014

Shay Carl, Alton Brown and Bobby FlayIn an age where everything seems to be available online, Food Network Stars also have to have a presence on the Web — it's a one-stop shop to talk with fans and share everyday activities, photos and Post-its.

This week's episode of Star challenged the finalists with two different social tasks: Create a behind-the-scenes video on the set of Food Star Kitchen, and film a viral marketing video at YouTube Space LA. No stranger to vlogging and creating viral videos, Shay Carl was brought in to help guide the contestants. Shay certainly had the resume for the job. He is undoubtedly a very popular and successful YouTube personality, with five channels of his own (two of them with more than 1 million subscribers each).

We caught up with Shay on location at YouTube Space LA to chat about his time on Star.

Star Talk: What's the one thing you really wanted to convey to the finalists?
Shay Carl: See, I had to be really careful because the director told me that they have to be responsible for their own videos. So I couldn't come in there and be like, "I think you guys should do this." And I don't want to do that (in case they get sent home and say, "Well that was Shay Carl's idea!" So it was tough because I'm a very opinionated guy. I just wanted to steer them in the path that they were already going down, without influencing their decisions too much. I was just there to give some tips and tricks, and help them with their training wheels. Imagine they're like a little child on a bike and this is their first YouTube round, and we're going down the cul-de-sac and I'm like: "Yup, that's good! You did it! Good job!"

What lessons learned (from your own personal experience) did you share with the remaining finalists?
SC: Well there's a few different things. In order for a video to go viral, it needs a good thumbnail and title. That’s like when you first meet somebody and you kind of judge them by their appearance. A video, thumbnail and title could be huge. In fact, when I was first starting out five years ago, some people made whole careers out of good thumbnails. Besides that (since the finalists are most likely not attaching thumbnails to these), I gave them some ideas with content. I gave them some tips and some pointers, and to be honest, they had some great ideas already banked — they all seem like they're very creative. In the small time I worked with them, they were all very enthusiastic people.

In creating a video, what do you not do?
SC: This goes without saying: You can't be boring. I always say to people, "If your mom and your friends won't watch it, what makes you think other people will?" Show it to your parents, go show it to your family and friends, and if they're like, "OK, are you done now?" there's something wrong. It has to be engaging and it has to be exciting. A lot of "ums" and breaths are bad. I tend to cut out any breaths that I have when I'm talking in the vlogs that I make. This is such a short-attention-span generation where people want it quick — so it has to be fast, in your face, fun, awesome and hilarious.

Each team had a different setup: classroom, lab and the apartment. Do setups really matter? Did any one team have an advantage?
SC: No. It all depended on their idea — the setting doesn't matter.

In a day and age where these finalists are really preparing for a future potential TV show, why are these Web videos so important?
SC: Sure, one of these finalists will receive a TV show if they win. But they still have to know how to do things online. If they're going to create a show and be a leader of that show, then they're going to need to know how to produce these things — they're going to have to come up with ideas off the top of their heads. This is great training for their future if they win. If you lose, well, you just go back to cutting cucumbers or something.

Bobby Flay mentioned that when he started at Food Network, he didn't really have to worry about these types of videos and social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But now he does.
SC: That's right. And now, it' a full-time job, but these chefs are becoming personalities outside of their shows on these platforms. They have their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, and they constantly need to feed — I mean, that's why they call it social media, you know, you have to be social. So somebody who is more closed off or introspective, they probably won't do as well.

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Comments (49)

  1. Crocodile says:

    What if South Park's Eric Cartman was a finalist and competing?
    What might he say to the judges?
    That would have been more funny than what we saw.

  2. Rappa Slamma says:

    Takin' my dishes across the whole nation
    as I preach the food message to all congregations
    Ain't givin' no lip cuz dis ain't no trip
    Gonna cook it up right and take some big bites
    Cuz the time is now to make food that wows
    So let's get cookin' and stay good-lookin'
    And gimme some eats that can't be beat.

  3. Ms. Mozz says:

    Does it look like musical chairs with different winners each week? Do you think it might be that way so that when Luca comes back there will be no serious competitor who has wracked up very many wins to go against him? Is this the plan? Or is there no plan at all? Or is this the year of healthy eating? Is there a Niche to fill?

    • Yvonne says:

      Right on! Can hardly wait for Luca's new show. It will be entertaining, interesting, food worthy and exciting! Even if it ends up on the Cooking Channel.. They could use a boost also!

      • Chic Parmesan says:

        Imagine that Luca returns. Which other three people do you think will be his strongest competition?

  4. Mary says:

    FANS: remember to check out Episode 4 on Star Salvation with LUCA... The interviews were excellent and he shows over again that he can really cook!! What a shame he is not with the regular group. He would blow them away. Maybe that is why the judges ditched him????

    • Bailey says:

      Lenny out-cooks him. Chris Lynch out-cooks Lenny.
      Do the men have it over the ladies this year?
      Keep in mind that the people Luca has defeated are people who have LOST.

      • Mary says:

        Hi Bailey, I do respect your insight. And, of course, you have a valid point. For me, I do not think of wins and losses, because it is always unbalanced anyway. After last week, struggling to just watch is tough.
        I do agree that Chris can cook better than Lenny.. and as boring as he is, I would rather watch him. BUT I would rather not, unless he gains some real personality along the way. And definitely I would not want to be entertained by Lenny all year. I also agree the men are doing better than the gals. My problem is that I watch a show to learn and be comfortable as we go. Luca, I do believe, can do that. Of course, being female, although OLDER, I am biased! Yelling, being corny, and talking fast doesn't get it for me.. ,

        • Bailey says:

          True. It takes more than only cooking well. I don't want yelling, either. I don't want another Guy Fieri but I want more aliveness than Ina Garten.

          • mary says:

            LOL.. I thought of Guy while writing to you and how we are stuck with all those "Diners" shows! Then there are all those repeats on the Cooking Channel TV. So we try "Create". And on and on.
            You are right; we do need some new blood on these cooking shows!

        • jen says:

          I'm not sure what you mean by wins and losses being unbalanced. Can you say more about that? Thanks.

          • Mary says:

            Jen, the amount of wins or losses one has does not necessarily mean the winner is any good or that the loser is bad. Last week was terrible and to me no one won. But to watch Luca on the Salvation, which include losers, it was evident that he is a winner.

          • jen says:

            Sorry, now I'm more confused than ever. If winning or losing doesn't necessarily mean the winner is good or that the loser is bad, then why do winners win and why do losers lose, at all?

            The judges feel it is based on how each person did. I agree about no one really winning last week but other than that, wins and losses are total-performance based in the judges eyes. How could it not matter or be unbalanced?

          • shannon says:

            From my perspective you can win one week and that may be a fluke or you can be worst one week and that can be a fluke. Sometimes people are lucky or unlucky. One dish you prepare and win a challenge with does not make you the best cook. Ex: my daughter can't cook yet to save her life....she can not bake either..however s he makes the best pies you can imagine,go figure? She would win one week based on her magnificent pie but can she teach me to cook absolutely not,she just can't cook. ( fyi she is young and just got interested in cooking I am sure she will eventually be stellar). Other side of the coin, I made hollandaise tonight, it broke..I was so mad. I would have lost the competition, does not mean I can't cook or make a mean hollandaise, it means it was a bad day.

          • Joe says:

            Good explanation. An individual win or loss could be a fluke, up or down. But even with that, a win is still a win and losing is still losing. Maybe she will say more about what she means by unbalanced. Within a given challenge, I can see it. As anyone gets more wins or losses, to continue calling it unbalanced becomes more puzzling. On the other side of the coin, there are times I disagree with the judges.

          • shannon says:

            Very true Joe, I pay the most attention to what they say as they are tasting each item prepared....I am not thereto taste it myself so I kind of go off that.The initial tasting means more to me than judgement time. Sometimes it amazes me after 2 judges say they liked something and the other one says they did not that the contestant ends in the bottom and they talk bad a bout the dish.....and only say it's bad????? What happened in between? I would rather go by their gut reactions vs their coerced final decision....after all liking a dish has a lot to do with personal preference.

          • mary says:

            excellent scenario! I agree.

    • Mary says:

      OH I ALMOST FORGOT.... remember to vote 10 times a day for your favorite.... I suppose it takes that many to figure out who we are voting for...really?

  5. Mary says:

    Oh by the way, let's not forget to vote 10 times a day for our favorite. I suppose it takes that many times for them to figure out who each of us likes! LOL

  6. Palpatine says:

    Comic relief:
    Imagine if all three judges were wearing headgear like Darth Vader.

    Just before they announce who will be eliminated next, from behind the mask, one of them says to the loser: "You have failed us for the last time."

  7. John says:

    Shaytards, wow Food Network has just gone as low as they can go choosing this person. Making fun of the mentally handicapped so wrongfully referred to as retards. Nice, really nice. Way to go FN!

    • Emma says:

      Actually, the name "Shaytards" comes from one of Shay Carl's earliest videos in which he was goofing around in his wife's leotard and later, the family started adding the -tard at the end of their nicknames. It has nothing to do with retards, but the funny video with the leotard. Don't be so quick to assume when you don't even know of the person.

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