Constable: Former Des Plaines man's apocalyptic cooking show serves up horror, sci-fi, creepy cats
Watching cooking shows while stuck at home during the pandemic, Tony Trimm longed for something more entertaining. So Trimm, who grew up in Des Plaines, used his creative ingredients to launch his own cooking show on YouTube -- a dollop of cooking, a dash of horror, a skosh of science fiction, a pinch of psychedelic, and a smidgen of creepy cats.
A viewer from France praised Trimm's "Home Feed" as "a psychotronic cooking show," which sounds about right to Trimm, who is 40 and lives in a second-story apartment in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood. Episodes are filmed in Trimm's kitchen or across the street at an old tattoo parlor, with green screens and lots of special effects.
The ever-changing setting for the show could be a post-apocalyptic kitchen, hell, a spaceship, a time-travel machine, or just the hallucination of a guy who's had too many drugs. The host, Survivor No. 1, uses a time machine, and his cabinets and refrigerators are portals to other worlds.
To fetch bacon at the request of his dogs -- Chicharron, a deer head Chihuahua, and Nacho, a white Chihuahua-Jack Russell terrier mix -- Trimm leaps into his refrigerator and lands in a tundra where he grabs bacon and other ingredients he needs. He scrambles back to his kitchen portal before a roaring yeti can grab him.
Each show is counting the days from some unknown event. His third episode, the Halloween special titled "Sushi Dinner," takes place on Day 658. Trimm plays the main character.
"He's trying to make a human connection. That's why it's called Home Feed," says Trimm.
Born as Anthony Kim, to Korean immigrants Doo Hyun and Jae Eun Kim, he got the nickname Trimm and decided to keep it in his professional career. A 1999 graduate of Maine West High School, Trimm was an established DJ by the time he enrolled at Southern Illinois University, where he met people who remain friends and creative partners. He graduated from Chicago's Columbia College with a degree in journalism.
He's worked on tour with rapper Serengeti and comedian Hannibal Buress, both of whom he met at SIU. He's directed some music videos, worked as a DJ and taught himself how to be an audio engineer and film editor. His shows list friend Ted Park, who died in June, as executive producer and features appearances by well-known chefs. James Beard Award-winning chef Abe Conlon is listed as creative consultant, provides recipes and also was first to feed Trimm's interest in creepy cats by gifting him a misfit toy.
"It's supposed to dance, but it just started twitching," Trimm says of the vibrating cat who plays a godlike character in some episodes. A villainous monster, Abaddon, wears a horrifying cat mask. Trimm's creepiest cat is a stuffed animal wearing a dress and bonnet.
"It's made out of real cat fur, so the creep factor gets worse and worse," says Trimm, whose editing skills give that cat a working human mouth.
The cat trio compete for airtime with his dogs, spacewalking astronauts, fires, coronavirus models, giant insects, monsters, volcanoes, explosions and general weirdness.
"I want there to be so much eye candy that people will come back to watch it again to see what they missed," Trimm says. "Every act is with a sense of urgency. Is the power going to cut out? Is the signal strong enough? Is the stove going to go out? Will Chicharron and Nacho be on cue this time? Are evil forces going to attack? Again?"
The guiding message is that "sharing delicious discoveries from the mundane in a seemingly hopeless and bleak world is the beacon," Trimm says.
When Trimm sets his time machine too far into the future, his father appears as an older Trimm. A Post-it note hanging from a whiteboard in Trimm's studio reads, "Mom is in a jar making kimchi." He envisions her as a recurring character. "My mother in the jar screaming at me in Korean whenever I reach in for ingredients," he says.
In addition to help from Conlon, other chefs who appear in episodes include Won Kim and Margaret Pak. Trimm's friend, comedian Meechie Hall, plays a buddy who is coming over for a dinner of canned sardines and oysters, until he gets lost in the woods outside Trimm's kitchen window and is disemboweled by Abaddon in a scene Trimm describes as "cartoon violence."
Poking fun at the way the word "oriental" has become a pejorative term, Trimm makes "Oriental Ramen" and notes that he doesn't find the word derogatory. "I go to the local Asian market and everything says, 'Oriental,'" Trimm says.
Fermenting his own kombucha in large glass jars, Trimm often uses his green screen talents to put less appetizing items in jars, and his language sometimes goes beyond the vocabulary allowed on most food shows.
While his character struggles to make human connections, Trimm seems to maintain his. For his show's theme, he uses the song "Drought," by the post-metal band Pelican, which features bassist Bryan Herweg and his drummer brother Larry Herweg, who went to Maine West with Trimm.
Trimm has sketched out 10 episodes between six and 20 minutes long, including a Thanksgiving special that introduces a stop-animation sweet potato as the evil "Mr. Jenkins," who comes to life after Trimm injects him with a potion. "This has a 'Reanimator'/'Frankenstein' feel to it," he says.
That episode also will introduce an angry duck. "I go to hunt the duck with a slingshot, but things turn on me," Trimm says.
Viewers won't learn how to cook a meal just by watching the show, but he does include actual recipes on homefeedshow.com.
Trimm says he doesn't know where the show might take him.
"I'm just trying to make an entertaining cooking show," Trimm says. "It's like a cooking show with a story that's fun to watch."