An Instagram I Love: MenWithThePot
An interview with Slawek Kalkraut and Krzysztof Szymański, the masterminds behind the TikTok and Instagram account MenWithThePot
Spend a few minutes scrolling through Instagram and you’ll stumble upon the same ol’ stuff: cute dogs, cuter babies, people falling in spectacular fashion, fabulous people on vacation in fabulous locales and selfies. It’s trite, it’s rote and yes, admittedly, it’s totally addictive. (Damn you, algorithms!) But every once in a while, there’s magic to be found. Something unexpected. Striking. Moving. Gorgeous.
For me, it was my recent discovery of the MenWithThePot account. First things first: We’re talking about a cooking pot, not quantities of herbaceous things. Secondly, you never see the actual “men”; their focus is on the cooking, not themselves. Everything is shot outdoors, in the lush, green woods of Ireland, with roaring open fires, fresh ingredients, disconcertingly large knives, unrivaled ingenuity and a cinematic flair that will make you wonder if Steven Spielberg’s behind the camera.
Turn on the sound and turn up the volume, and prepare to have your mind blown. As beautifully shot as the videos are, the audio might be even better. It’s food porn. It’s ASMR gone wild…to the point where it should stand for Ahhhhh So Majorly Randy! After gorging on their videos for hours on end, I simply had to chat with the two Poland-born pals behind it, Slawek Kalkraut and Krzysztof Szymański. So I rang ‘em up. (All answers are from Slawek.)
NPH: What was the genesis of MenWithThePot?
MWTP: It is us, trying to expand our passion for outdoor cooking, and share it with the world. We had never expected this to go that far.
What makes a great video on social media?
We are still trying to figure this out! After two years of shooting videos, we are still learning social media, but keeping people interested and curious about the next scene is the key in our opinion.
People like to throw the word “creator” around, but I’ve got a better title for you: food pornographers.
Well, we will take it! We had never heard of someone being called that, so it’s good to be first.
Your videos are shot as beautifully as anything in Hollywood. But the audio is absolutely brilliant. Mesmerizing. What made audio such a big part of your style?
It wasn’t our intention at the beginning, but when people started to experience stress relief, we thought, This is it!
How do you get such incredible audio? What sort of gear do you use? Are you influenced by ASMR?
You may think we have expensive equipment but to be honest we are using a smartphone and we would never change it for anything else. Sound in the videos is original and never enhanced. Before we started MWTP we had no clue about ASMR. Obviously, things changed a little bit when our fans started to notice it in our videos. It’s one of the most important elements in the video.
How long does it take you to make a video?
Believe it or not, it takes a good 6-8 hours. This would include the whole journey and setup. Since we live in Ireland, weather isn’t on our side, so we really must plan our shoots wisely.
MWTP became a full-time gig for you a year or so ago. Tell me about what you did previously, and how you made your decision to make the leap.
Hospitality. I was working nights in a hotel doing various tasks and Krzysiek was a head barman. At the start we had no courage to leave our full-time jobs behind, and we really struggled with work. Just imagine cooking for 8 hours outdoors, and then going to work for another 10-12 hours! This was going on for over a year. We were guests in our own houses. When we introduced our knives to the world things changed slightly. Around Christmas 2020 we said goodbye to the hospitality industry. This was the best decision we’ve ever made, no doubt about it.
How do you control for birds and squirrels on set?
Well, they see the knife so they keep a safe distance. And to be honest, I would too! We always leave some bread for them and by the next day all of it is gone, so I suppose we have a good vibe going on there.
Say that huge, sharp knife nicks a finger — how far to the nearest ER?
We have been there once, and for the record it’s a good 30 minutes away.
One thing you’d never cook outdoors?
I’m sorry I know they will hate us for it…vegetarian food.
Complete this sentence: Gas grills are _____.
Complete this other sentence: The bigger the knife, the bigger the _____.
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