Mike Greenfield has always been passionate about cooking, but he didn’t expect that passion to lead to a career on YouTube. It was only through embracing change that Mike established his own voice and truly connected with his fans. We had a chance to chat with Mike to get his perspective on his popular channel, Pro Home Cooks, and his winding path to YouTube success.
Before Pro Home Cooks, there was the Brothers Green Eats
In the beginning, Mike and his brother Josh posted the first iterations of their self-produced cooking show on Vimeo. Mike had a simple goal; he wanted to host a cooking show. And thanks to the quality of the production and the charming dynamic between the brothers, folks at the Hungry Channel took notice.
The Hungry Channel was part of an experimental initiative meant to establish more professional YouTube channels. The goal was to increase the production value of the shows hosted on the platform and thereby increase YouTube’s overall viewership. The Brothers Green ended up producing three seasons of “Midnight Munchies” for the Hungry Channel. The show targeted college students with satisfying snacks they could make themselves, even with limited space and resources.
The opportunity was short-lived, however.
“One of the ways that these channels weren’t working was they were putting on so many personalities,” Mike said.
Think of the Food Network, with a lineup of shows each hosted by a different chef. This is what worked on TV, after all. On YouTube, however, the tactic wasn’t so well received. Fans had their favorites and wanted more consistency between the different shows. When funding eventually ran out for the Hungry Channel, Mike and Josh weren’t sure what would come next. The pair decided to try to bring their fans from the Hungry Channel to a new outlet: The Brothers Green Eats.
“We were able to bring over maybe about 25,000 fans,” Mike said. “That was a nice little boost, but it was really starting from scratch.”
The beginning was a bit rough, but over time, the duo embraced the change. Slowly, they upgraded from shooting on iPhones to more professional production gear, and the production value of the channel increased accordingly.
For years, Brothers Green Eats continued to deliver accessible home cooking techniques to their YouTube viewers. During that time, the brothers also began to explore their own individual interests and passions. As each of them grew, it became clear that the Brothers Green wouldn’t last forever.
“Cooking was a passion for [Josh], but I don’t think that’s where he wanted to take his career,” Mike said. “Whereas for me, cooking was always my passion. Cooking, and cooking shows and inspiring people to be in the kitchen.”
Mike tells us that the main challenge in shifting away from the Brothers Green Eats brand and toward Pro Home Cooks was establishing his intentions in the YouTube space.
“I didn’t quite have answers early on,” he said regarding the decision to take over and rebrand the Brothers Green channel.
Without the influence of his brother, Mike had to decide how he wanted to present his brand.
“The biggest change, for me,” Mike explains, “is just really getting centered on what Pro Home Cooks is.”
Rediscovering a passion for home cooking
Mike sums up the concept for the Pro Home Cooks channel like this: “You don’t have to be a chef to be a great cook.” He says that this idea had actually been percolating for a while behind the scenes of the Brothers Green content.
“What I started to realize was that my true passion lies in home cooking — providing food for my family, my friends, the people around me,” Mike said.
At the same time, Mike realized he had something unique to offer in the landscape of cooking media and education.
“When I looked at the industry,” he said, “a lot of it still had remnants of the chefs and the restaurants.”
Rather than focus on restaurant-style fare with complicated, involved recipes, Mike wanted to make Pro Home Cooks a practical resource for anyone looking to cook better meals at home.
“When you become a better cook at home,” Mike said, “it takes different skills and a different thought process.”
Throughout the history of the Brothers Green channel, leading up to the inception of Pro Home Cooks, we can see the emphasis on simple, accessible ingredients and achievable results. Today, the channel hosts myriad videos on meal planning, meal prep and other creative ways to stay ahead in the kitchen.
“The content has shifted completely toward home cooking,” Mike said, “and how I can enhance people’s perspective on it.”
Change is hard
Before committing to the shift, Mike wasn’t completely confident the rebrand would work. In the end, however, he decided it was necessary in order for the channel to continue — and for him to grow as a creator.
“Change is hard,” Mike said. “The way I look at change is that humans need change to survive. But we also resist it — and a lot of times hate it.”
“Change is hard. The way I look at change is that humans need change to survive. But we also resist it — and a lot of times hate it.”
Mike admits that when he first changed the direction of the channel, he was met with some resistance from existing subscribers. It’s always a risk to change the focus of an established channel. Viewers signed up to watch more of the same type of content, so it’s inevitable that some will unsubscribe when that content changes. Luckily, the shift between the Brothers Green and Pro Home Cooks wasn’t drastic. The content didn’t change as much as it became more focused.
“Slowly,” Mike said, “I gained more trust and brought on a new audience.”
Evolving as a cook and a video producer
When it comes to making videos, Mike does pretty much everything himself. However, he does get help with editing and animations. In the future, he’d like to grow his production team even more. The overarching goal is to continue to grow and evolve as a creator. That’s also why Mike is looking at moving into a new, larger studio space.
Even before YouTube, Mike always had an eye for photography, and specifically for photographing food. This skill has helped immensely in establishing the eye-catching look of the channel.
“I always loved taking pictures of the food I was making and sharing that with people,” Mike said.
Aside from that, Mike had participated in full-scale TV productions and used that experience to guide him in producing and sharing his own videos. Overall, though, it was a slow and steady evolution, improving the process and the production value with each video.
“That was really part of the growth,” Mike notes, emphasizing the importance of growing, changing and improving as a creator.
Mike advises aspiring YouTubers that “it’s really valuable to know a bit of everything.” He explains that being able to fill multiple roles allows you to keep production costs down. That makes the channel more sustainable in general. Thinking back to the Hungry Channel, Mike notes that “the productions were too big, and the financials didn’t make sense — they ran out of money.” On YouTube, he says, speed and efficiency are vital to keeping a channel going.
The evolution of Pro Home Cooks
Like most creators, Mike is always on the lookout for new content ideas for his channel. Sometimes, he dedicates time specifically to brainstorming. But often, ideas will come to him seemingly out of nowhere. He might be on a run or a walk, or in the kitchen cooking for himself. Wherever inspiration strikes, he knows to seize it and integrate that idea into a future video.
Mike realized early on that the how-to cooking niche is quite competitive. That meant he had to get more creative in how he presented his content.
“I had to learn how to tell better stories,” he said, saying that this is what really keeps viewers engaged.
For Mike, it’s all part of the evolution process:
“The goal is really becoming more true to myself, because I think if you want to make it on YouTube, you have to be unique,” Mike said. “And everyone is unique. But the hard part is finding that in yourself and expressing that.”
Change leads to growth
When it comes to YouTube Mike’s advice is clear.
“The only way you’re going to find success is if you really tune in to who you are as a creator, what you’re passionate about and how you’re going to express that,” Mike said.
“That’s the mission of Pro Home Cooks,” he continued, “that everyone has their own unique expression of cooking. Ultimately, it’s about connecting to your own expression in the kitchen.”
The same goes for YouTube creators.
“The more you connect to your own expression, the more success you’ll have,” Mike said. “Because it will be unique.”
Finally, Mike emphasizes the importance of embracing change.
“If you’re constantly connecting to yourself, that means you have to change,” Mike said, “because you’re going to be constantly changing — that’s how you’re going to keep people engaged.”