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Three shots of Daniel Rankin doing different baking-related activities
Daniel Rankin, CrossFit trainer-slash-baker-slash-chef who posts hilarious cooking videos with his adorable little pug
Daniel Rankin

An Instagram I Love: Daniel Rankin, The Shredded Chef

And his adorable co-star and pug Fraser, of course

Neil Patrick Harris is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Wondercade. In his spare time he also acts — fairly well, too, as his Tony and Emmy Awards can attest.

August 21, 2023 10:31 am

I scroll through so many interesting accounts on Instagram, but Daniel Rankin is a hotbed of hybrid talent. Dude is a crazy-fit trainer and CrossFit athlete who bakes and cooks in stupidly well-edited, one-minute videos that co-star an adorable pug whom he’s trained to sit completely still. In costume! (Heck, *I* can barely sit still in costume.) Daniel’s account is just a ton of fun, so I hit him up to learn about his process, inspiration and how he maintains 6(teen?!)-pack abs while constantly surrounding himself with homemade brownies and cakes. Given busy schedules and the time difference — I’m in NYC, he’s in Auckland, New Zealand — we chatted over email. (Which explains Daniel’s use of emoji. 🇺🇸🇳🇿)

NPH: First question: How do you make and eat all those gorgeous, delicious baked treats and stay so fit?

DR: I love working out! It’s addictive. I also mostly eat meat and veggies, with only a couple of baked goods a week. It all balances out.

NPH: And how, and why, did you start making cooking videos? With. A. Pug?

DR: I’ve always loved cooking. It helps me relax. I started creating cooking videos back in 2014 before I had Fraser (my pug friend), but it was inconsistent. Back during the lockdowns in 2020, as it was such a weird time, Fraser and I started making cooking videos to encourage clean eating and to help cheer people up. I only started baking during New Zealand’s 17th lockdown (a joke! 😆) and I absolutely loved it, so now we mostly do baking videos. Fraser never lets me be in the kitchen on my own — he’s always there at my feet — so I hired him as a sous chef for my videos. He’s happy to be paid in treats.

NPH: How do you get Fraser to sit so still? In a costume, no less?!

DR: 💖 We’ve been mates since I picked him up from the breeder as a pup. He ran to me before I even knew he was the pug I was picking up…I guess you could say that he chose me. When he was a pup I’d take him to the gym while I worked out or coached CrossFit, but he’d always bark if he couldn’t see me. So I started placing him up on a box where he could sit and watch me. I guess that’s why he sits so well behaved in our videos.

NPH: Well-behaved pup aside, how do you film these videos, alone, head bobbing perfectly in sync ALL while being super clever and making an actual recipe? It’s superhuman.

DR: Thank you! I honestly just set my camera up on a tripod, frame us in the shot, get Fraser dressed — his favorite outfit is his denim jacket — press record and start baking!

Once I have a song in mind I’ll select one minute of it, and get creative with learning the lyrics, what instruments are used, what dance moves I’m going to do, different shots I’m going to take and how I’m going to showcase the food. Once that’s all done I’ll edit it myself. If you watch our first few videos and compare them to our most recent ones, you can see how much more comfortable we are now in front of the camera.

NPH: You seem to use a lot of ‘80s music. Why? Other than the fact that it’s the best?

DR: I was sitting in my garage during lockdown one day doing some squats and listening to Today’s Top Hits on Spotify and everything was so depressing. I changed the playlist to something with ‘80s music and felt so much happier. It was a vibe

NPH: Best ‘80s band? Song?

DR: INXS. “New Sensation.”

NPH: Nice. My favorite ‘80s song is “Come On Eileen.” Lucky girl. All-time favorite recipe. Go.

DR: Lemon meringue cheesecake pie. Super simple, super delicious.

NPH: Is your account more thirst trap…or hunger trap?

DR: I actually had no intention to make it a thirst trap! It was about the cooking and laughs. But now I’d definitely have to say it’s more a thirst trap. 😆😆

NPH: Finally, what do working out and baking have in common? And you can’t say “hot cross(fit) buns.”

DR: I think you need to be present for both. Life offers so many distractions, and it’s nice to have something that helps you be present and focus on the moment. Because if you don’t while working out, you’ll drop a barbell on your head. Or you’ll accidentally leave a knife on your baking sheet and serve hot, melted knife for dinner. Both things I’ve done.

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