This golden retriever has 'cooked' more than 400 meals. Here's how the dog's human taught him patience in the kitchen.
Badger's owner says the 18-month-old pup's favorite food is raw filet mignon.
There's a new social media chef in town and he tries very hard not to get fur in his culinary creations. Chef Badger, a golden retriever who often dons a chef's hat and coat and token Crocs in his cooking videos, has more than 170,000 fans who follow his Cooking with Badger Instagram account. Followers have gone mutts over the pooch, watching as he's "cooked" hundreds of meals — from spaghetti and meatballs to clam chowder — in playful short-form videos set to music.
"He's the best dog in the entire world," shares his dog-mom Jessica, a private chef who prefers to keep her last name anonymous to protect her clients' privacy. Badger is an adorable 18-month-old male golden retriever whose breeding line wowed Jessica and her husband when they spent time babysitting Badger's uncle and were taken back by the dog's amazing temperament.
"We need one of these," Jessica recalls thinking. It would take nearly two years for the couple to adopt Badger from the small breeder, who mainly caters to family and friends. Today, the family happily lives together in Lake Tahoe. On the adorable account, "Badger" refers to his mom and dad as his "pawrents."
"It was my lifelong dream," Jessica says of having a golden retriever.
The couple behind Badger's account have no professional experience in social media, but Jessica does have over 10 years of experience in the culinary industry. Prior to starting a family, spent her professional career working as a personal chef. The idea to bring Badger into the kitchen sparked naturally: "I just thought it would be funny if Badger became our personal chef," she shares.
"Since I'm cooking all the time," she says, "[Badger is] just there and watching me. I thought it would be funny to pick him up and see how involved he wanted to be."
The couple and Badger were vacationing in the family's camper when they decided to give it a try. Much to their excitement, Badger cooperated fully. When shooting, Jessica's husband aids Badger by hugging him from behind and moving his arms as Jessica controls the camera. "He was just happy to be closer to us," she recalls of the early days filming together.
They weren't sure what would happen after posting footage of Badger to social media, but the account has quickly taken off. For production, Jessica puts her chef skills to the test and is in charge of all food prep and chopping. Prior to filming, they arrange everything into stations around their kitchen. They also try to limit filming to no longer than 10 minutes at a time to keep Badger's interest from fading. During that time, they try to film as many scenes as possible before taking a break.
Luckily, there's not a hungry chef to deal with: Badger surprisingly never tries to eat the food they're cooking. "He is so polite," says Jessica. "I don't even understand. He's not very food-motivated, so it has worked in our favor."
If they're cooking steak or chicken, they will feed some to Badger after the shoot — a fitting reward for his culinary mastery. Badger's favorite food? Raw filet mignon. "He's very fancy," Jessica tells Yahoo Life.
Since launching less than a year ago, the couple has posted hundreds of recipe videos to Instagram, many of which have received millions of views. While Badger spends most of his time cooking in the family kitchen, he also enjoys cooking while camping, like on a recent RV trip to Colorado. The majority of the videos shared on the account are of Badger cooking, but Jessica says he also lends a hand around the home by cleaning and organizing the pantry.
"He's very versatile," she says. "Coming from my background of being a personal chef, you pretty much have to cook whatever the client wants that night, and he can cook it all."
Badger loves cooking his dad's favorite: maple miso wild Atlantic cod with sugar snap peas and trumpet, shiitake and oyster mushrooms. But what else does the future hold for the charismatic pup? Jessica believes anything is pawsible for her dog. "I would absolutely love to make a cookbook with Badger," she says.
Wellness, parenting, body image and more: Get to know the who behind the hoo with Yahoo Life’s newsletter. Sign up here.