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Industry Trends
February 6, 2023
min read
Noam Yadin

From hotel chef manager to YouTube chef creator - an inside look at being a hungry content creator

We sat down with Paul Karyakos, better known as ChefPK, who is a food YouTuber (with an Anime-twist). ChefPK worked as a professional cook and hotel chef manager for 11 years until he simply felt burned out. After dipping his toes in a few professions, including personal training, ice cream manufacturing and even making sourdough from scratch, COVID-19 gave ChefPK the wake-up call he needed to turn YouTube into a full-time gig. 

ChefPK, who has 274K subscribers, shared with us what it’s really like to be a content creator on YouTube, touching on how he continues to weave his hotel chef manager experiences into the wild west of YouTube, sharing major YouTube secrets and insider tips, and giving aspiring creators tools for success.

You can listen to the episode here: 

Highlights from the episode: 

ChefPK shares his thoughts on the following topics…

How to deal with YouTube comments: [08:08]

“With a lot of those comments, I still respond to them and I will ask, ‘Hey, what did I do here that maybe was incorrect?  Like certain fandoms from certain anime are very, very protective of their animator or show. They come after you for one glaring thing that maybe you made a mistake on. I'm like, ‘yeah, you're right. I did make that mistake. I'll learn from next time and then just move on’...It does get to some creators. I've had other creators ask me for advice. And I just tell them to only read the first 10 minutes, because those are your most diehard fans. After 10 minutes of looking at that video going live, don't look at anything else. I do the opposite. I look at comments very often because of a hundred people that make a comment. There might be one malicious comment, but then there might be someone who's genuinely asking for advice.”

The importance of looking at your YouTube channel and presence as a brand  [20:16]

“I started looking at my channel now as a business, how do I make this a brand? How do we make ChefPK a brand? What are people interested in? People are interested in cooking, but I've slowly realized that they're interested in this stuff that they can make right now. So I had to start to shift. Do I see myself reacting to videos in 10 years? Probably not. But I can see myself owning my own chef brand where maybe it's really cool knives, really cool merchandise, maybe even a convention, maybe pop-up eateries, which is something that we actually have on the horizon. You know, people will go to a ChefPK, pop-up eatery. They're not going to go to a ChefPK react eatery.”

The power of YouTube data and analytics: [30:47]

“YouTube is a service industry. You're serving an audience. And what I have seen and realized is that people, again, it goes back to the restaurant thing, cause I will always make these analogies. Even if someone hates the food, if they're nice enough, they won't tell you. So they'll just be like, oh yeah, it was great. But then never come back. You just don't know if that person didn't come.  What you can see on YouTube is when they leave, what they click on, how long they watched, it's way more data driven than anyone thinks. I know when you left my restaurant, I know how many minutes you stayed at my restaurant, I know whether or not you ordered this thing off the menu and the menu being the videos that I have...So I will make content based on what my community wants, but also based on what they have shown me in the analytics, because analytics don't lie”

How much money YouTubers really make [44:41]

“I think that gives a lot of perspective to other creators out there and also to brands that want to work with creators about how much money it costs….I will say now for anyone who’s maybe listening to this who wants to be a content creator. I make less money now than I did as a hotel chef”

Full Transcript: 

David Tintner: [00:00:00] All right. We are joined today with Paul Karyakos known as chef PK on his YouTube channel and all over social and, Paul, thanks a lot for joining us, really excited to talk to you and learn about everything you have 

Paul Karyakos: going on with your channel. Yeah, I appreciate it. Thanks for having me, David. 

David Tintner: so Paul, you and I were just talking kind of in the intro before we started recording here and you were telling me, about the, the origins of your last name, which I thought was really interesting.

David Tintner: You mentioned that's from your family, 

Paul Karyakos: uh, from. Iraq Uh, my, my last name, which is part of the PK as chef PK is just easier for people to find, uh, instead of using . But, uh, my last name is actually derived from my great, great grandfather's first name and my family when they left Iraq and they had to sign all the papers and everything, they didn't have a cohesive last name.

Paul Karyakos: And it, and that's what most countries use here where most cultures, I should say use it's like a solid last name and they never [00:01:00] had that. So my, like my father's name for instance is Monsoor, which is his given name, uh, HANA, which is his, uh, his, his grandfather's name. And then Karyakos would have been great grandfather's name.

Paul Karyakos: So we just ended up using that and now everybody thinks I'm Greek, which is fine. That's, that's kind of the origins of the name. And again, the reason why, I mean, you asked this before we started, how do I pronounce it? And that's the biggest reason why I just use PK

David Tintner: So, so how did 

David Tintner: get 

Paul Karyakos: into cooking into food That's, that's a funny one. Uh, I've always liked cooking.

Paul Karyakos: I was a big boy growing up. Um, like by the time I was in the eighth or ninth grade, it was like 300 pounds. So I very much appreciated food. And, uh, it was all about that $5 foot long. When I learned that you could get all the toppings for no extra charge, I got all the toppings, you know, and that, like, that honestly opened me up to different vegetables in all these different flavors and whatever.

Paul Karyakos: Uh, and for me, cooking was more or less therapy, but also a way [00:02:00] to do now that I look at it as a way to gain attention, right? Like, oh, look at this thing I made for you. I hope you like it. Right. I always found food as a way of, of like, not only celebrating with someone, but then celebrating your efforts.

Paul Karyakos: Right, Like I made this really cool thing, put a lot of time into it. Uh, nowadays food is so easily gotten by just going out and getting whatever you want. That a lot of those appreciations don't happen. And I think that's kind of a miss. Um, but I got into food by walking into I'd always like cooking. And in the 11th grade I went for, you know, college shopping, like every 11th grader does.

Paul Karyakos: And I ended up going to art Institute for graphic design and my parents owned a printing company. So I was like, oh, it's kind of a natural fit. I like drawing and artwork and whatever, which I'm horrible at. I can't draw to save my life. Uh, but when I got to art Institute, they had this really, really cool professional kitchen on their second floor.

Paul Karyakos: And they gave you a whole tour of the campus or whatever. And [00:03:00] I saw the kitchen and I thought I could cook for a living and literally signed up for culinary instead of graphic design. Uh didn't even, didn't even think twice, like sign up for culinary because. My thought process also was people have to eat.

Paul Karyakos: So there's always going to be jobs in the food industry, uh, or, or, you know, open your own restaurant or whatever. And it's a lot of fun. Um, sitting at a desk most of the day is very difficult for me to do even now with working as a, as a content creator. Full-time I have a very hard time sitting at my desk and editing for more than like two or three hours at a time.

Paul Karyakos: Uh, but in a kitchen I'd work 10 to 12 hours and the day would just fly by because there's so intense and there's so much happening and you don't have time to think half the time and you're just kind of going and going and going. And it was a lot of fun. And for me, signing up with food was almost just like, yeah, let's just do this thing.

Paul Karyakos: Let's learn how to cook more. It's an, it's literally an endless and endless journey of learning, you know? And I, I [00:04:00] can appreciate that about food. I think more than anyone could have. 

David Tintner: So you were studying at the art Institute and started to take the culinary route. And what was your first job in a 

Paul Karyakos: food industry?

Paul Karyakos: I lucked out, um, my first job in the culinary industry right out of high school paid like 50 grand for culinary school. Right. Which is crazy because that's a whole other problem. I paid a bunch of money for culinary school and my first job was with a Hyatt and it was a Japanese restaurant because I fell in love with Japanese cuisine during culinary school.

Paul Karyakos: So I loved the flavor combinations. I loved it because it was also growing up in San Diego. There was a lot of it, you know, you could get really killer sushi, five minutes from your house. Most of the time, uh, I loved the cultural aspects and I love anime and video games. So it just all kind of fit really well.

Paul Karyakos: So a buddy of mine who is a bartender at this, uh, Japanese restaurant called cafe Japango which is one of the best sushi bars in San Diego at the time. [00:05:00] Um, he put in the good word for me, and I got a job there as my first job out of college at, uh, $11 an hour after, you know, after paying a ton of money for school.

Paul Karyakos: And, but that's how it was in the culinary world. Like you start at the bottom. Nope. I don't care who you are. You're more than likely going to start at the bottom. And I started off as a salad prep cook kind of thing, like worked on an open line. So it was really cool. The restaurant was really laid out.

Paul Karyakos: Well, I made desserts for them. Eventually I moved my way to like the fryer station. And then over to the, there was an open flame oven where we do like our Kobe steaks and our grill and stuff like that. Uh, and then finally I was able to do the walk station and I learned from a Chinese chef. His name was lumber and he was like five foot nothing.

Paul Karyakos: And would smack you with a walk if you got out of line, like it was great. Right. And that was my first experience in a restaurant. And. It kind of opened my eyes to, like, I had been there for a year and a half before I decided [00:06:00] to travel to Japan for a month. And I learned so much in that year and a half, even after school that like, I have such an appreciation for, for what happens in kitchens, where I try to be patient.

Paul Karyakos: If food is late, you know, I'm like, whatever, let it, let it happen. I know these things happen. You know, I, I rarely send food back, even if it's like something I didn't really want or order, like now you guys are busy, I'm going to eat it anyways. Cause I'm hungry. Uh, and that first job opened my eyes to what else is in the industry.

Paul Karyakos: And I kind of started going from there and worked multiple jobs after that. 

David Tintner: That brings up a lot of questions. But there's one thing I want to ask you specifically that you mentioned, I'm curious as a chef, um, it seems also kind of there's this balance between you really want the people that you're serving to really enjoy the experience.

David Tintner: So let's say you're on the other side. Do you prefer that people, tell you and give you like honest feedback. 

Paul Karyakos: Okay. Absolutely. [00:07:00] No, no, no. I, I thrive on honest, good feedback. There's always the person who just says, oh, I hate it just because I hate it.

Paul Karyakos: And those people really dig into your brain sometimes. Um, but then you have to put it in a respective and there was, you know, somebody had asked me mean comments or whatever for YouTube. And I had mentioned, I was like, I've worked restaurant nights where you're serving 400 people, right. Just getting slammed all night.

Paul Karyakos: Tickets, just crapping out of the printer, you know, hitting the floor. Like you don't have time to think and you'll serve 399 amazing plates with good comments. And then you'll have that one person who you just can't make happy. They sent food back twice or three times or whatever the case is, or they didn't like their dish.

Paul Karyakos: And that one thing sits out the most and you're like, what did I do wrong? What can I do better next time? Even if you did literally a hundred percentages better with all the other plates, it doesn't matter because you can't make everyone happy.

David Tintner: Yeah. Yeah, definitely.[00:08:00] I love that. To, um, the YouTube comment 

Paul Karyakos: section, it can get brutal.

David Tintner: So there's years in the kitchen. Uh, did they, did they prepare you well for what YouTube had in store or has that been? 

Paul Karyakos: It has been, yeah, it has been an adjustment process. I will say. I feel very hardened by the kitchen, because if you've ever worked in professional kitchen, there's a lot of trash talk, right.

Paul Karyakos: Amongst your peers and your coworkers and it's that kind of environment. And then it will, a lot of people say it might be toxic or whatever, but you do that to break tension. Right. And it's always trash talk in a fun way

Paul Karyakos: YouTube comments I I've seen somewhere. I'm like, oh, I want to respond. Like I would have in a professional kitchen, but that's how you get banned on YouTube. Like you can't, you know, so , if it's something overly malicious or, you know, you can come at me all day, I have very thick skin.

Paul Karyakos: I've gone through so much crap in my life where I'm like, you have to do something [00:09:00] insanely epic in a comment to really get me mad, because I'm just like, it's just not worth it. Right. But if you come after maybe a guest I had in the video, I will defend them like tooth and nail was like, you are not allowed to do that.

Paul Karyakos: That is not okay. Right. Where YouTube comments, I don't think a lot of people do it with complete malicious intent. It could be. And again, I give people a lot of benefit of the doubt. It could have been, they're just having a bad day, right. They just had a bad moment. Right. You just don't knowI don't think anyone is inherently trying to be completely mean, but a lot of people just don't know how to communicate, or they feel very confident, hidden behind an avatar. Uh, but with a lot of those comments, I still respond to them and I will ask, you know, Hey, what did I, you know, what did I do here that maybe was incorrect?

Paul Karyakos: Right? Like certain fandoms from certain anime are very, very protective of their, of their animator or show or whatever. They come after you for one thing. [00:10:00] And it's like one glaring thing that maybe you made a mistake on.

Paul Karyakos: I'm like, yeah, you're right. I did make that mistake. I'll learn from next time and then just move on. But when you call them out or you talk to them in the comments, they kind of like, oh, I didn't think you'd ever read this. I'm like, no, most YouTubers do read a ton of their comments. Not a lot of people on YouTube who make content post and ghost is the term that we call it.

Paul Karyakos: They don't just post it and leave. We do read comments and if you're going to be malicious about it, like you can come at me with that. I'm fine. Like, I I'll just send you into the shadow realm as I like to call it where you just, you know, shadow, banned them and they keep posting, but none of their comments show up.

Paul Karyakos: And it's funny to me. Uh, but to me, I'm like YouTube comments. It does get to some creators and I've had other creators come to me and ask me for that advice. And I just tell them only read the first 10 minutes, because those are your most diehard fan. After 10 minutes of looking at that video going live, don't look at anything else.

Paul Karyakos: I do the opposite. [00:11:00] Yeah. I look at comments very often because there might be that of, of a hundred people that make a comment. There might be. One malicious comment, but then there might be someone who's genuinely asking for advice. Like, Hey, there was someone who made a comment the other day on a roast video I was making and they're allergic to pineapple or like, Hey chef, I really want to make this.

Paul Karyakos: It looks really good, but I'm allergic to pineapple. Is there anything else I can use? Yep. Here use orange juice instead. And that video was like seven months old. Right. But it's just my way of helping someone who had a genuine question. And that gets lost a lot of the times because there are some YouTubers and content creators who are just genuinely afraid of looking at comments to see backlash or whatever.

Paul Karyakos: I try to curate a community that I would want to be a part of that hopefully other people would want to be a part of. So it keeps those hateful comments down 

David Tintner: do you have anyone else who helps you, um, content curation or, or what about [00:12:00] just in general with, with your entire 

Paul Karyakos: production?

Paul Karyakos: No, I do everything solo for the most part. I do. And now trying to work with a part-time editor, uh, who helps me with a secondary channel, which is my chef reacts channel. Uh, because I feel like with my main channel videos, I have a hard time letting them go, uh, mark Rober, put it best. He's like, it's, it's like carving a marble statue, right?

Paul Karyakos: Where you have this giant block of marble and you're chipping away, chipping away, chipping away to create a video. Uh, I have a hard time letting go of that aspect of it. And I do enjoy that part of it. Uh, but I do have an editor who's helping me with the second channel. That way I can pump out a lot of content and send it his way and have him edit it.

Paul Karyakos: But as far as anything else, I pretty much do everything myself. 

David Tintner: So, so you got to take us through how you got into that. Um, you're studying, cooking, you started working in a restaurant and now you're doing a content 

Paul Karyakos: creation full-time yeah.

Paul Karyakos: Uh, it, it wasn't by choice. Believe it or not. When [00:13:00] my wife got a killer job out here in the Portland area and I was actually done cooking, I had been cooking at that point for about 11 years and I was getting burned out, um, as a hotel chef manager. So working as a hotel chef is very different than a restaurant where it's all numbers, it's all statistics.

Paul Karyakos: It's how do we go from 18% food cost to 17 and a half percent food cost. Right. Uh, how do we cut hours here and there? It's very, very different. And that ended up burning me out after a while, because it was no longer about the creative process.

Paul Karyakos: It was more about numbers and only numbers. Okay. You know, you, you have to make money. Uh, and so when my wife got her job out here in Portland, I left the industry completely and I became a personal trainer for like, for like a year.

Paul Karyakos: I got my certification and everything, and I hated it. I was like, I actually like working out more than I like teaching people how to work out. Right. So I actually decided, instead of going back into hotel work and taking all that knowledge, I just want to learn more about food.

Paul Karyakos: So I [00:14:00] went into ice cream manufacturing, which is super different. , I ended up working for salt and straw for about a year and a half. And it was a lot of fun, a lot of work, but I learned how to make ice cream by hand from scratch, you know, at a, at a massive scale, like literally pouring ingredients by hand, that kind of thing.

Paul Karyakos: And that was super eye opening. Cause I'd never done anything like that before and after about a year and a half, I was like, okay, onto the next one. And then we ended up moving a little further from, you know, the, the Portland area. And I got a job at a sourdough bakery where it was mom and pop shop, who the last time I worked for mom and pop shop had probably been a decade before.

Paul Karyakos: And. The reason why I worked for them is because I love their sourdough bread. So I learned how to make sourdough from scratch. Uh, and after being there baker for about six months, they're like, Paul, you have a lot of kitchen experience. Right. It was like, yeah. It's like, do you want to be our, like our breakfast and lunch chef?

Paul Karyakos: It's like, sure, whatever. So I ended up taking on that aspect of it and make venues for them and, you [00:15:00] know, did it myself basically. Cause it was only a 15, 16 person seating restaurant with the bakery being as their primary. But I did all the prep, all the cooking, everything else for those menus.

Paul Karyakos: And it was a lot of fun cause it was like my baby. Uh, but then COVID hit and I was actually in Scotland on holiday with my. wife traveled around to basically all of it, which was a lot of fun. We're gone for two weeks. And they announced like shutdowns the day before we were supposed to leave Europe, you know, and were like, are we gonna get home?

Paul Karyakos: Do, is this like, who's going to, can you send our cats? Like, that's all we care about. You know, uh, we ended up making it back home and within a week I was laid off. But at that time I had been doing YouTube for about a year. So I had been casually like doing chef reacts videos, just for fun. Like, it was a little bit of extra cash, you know, here and there didn't pay great but it was enough to buy us tickets to Scotland after a little while, you know?

Paul Karyakos: So that was really cool. It was just extra [00:16:00] pocket change, a little side hustle. And when I was laid off, um, I, my wife and I talked and we're like, what do we do? Right. You're you're going from a restaurant to dough. Restaurants are taking people. You know, you're, you're, you're not able to find a job.

Paul Karyakos: Everything had either closed in our area or people were being laid off. I didn't qualify for unemployment because I had YouTube income. So we were kind of in a tight spot. And luckily my wife's job was good enough to sustain us.  I was making like a thousand dollars a month on ad sense from YouTube at the time.

Paul Karyakos: Uh, I also had a very cool Patreon community, which was bringing in about another thousand dollars a month. So I was making about $2,000 a month from YouTube and Patreon I ended up selling my car, which I absolutely loved, and I hate that I had to do that, but I sold my car to get rid of the payment, you know, no insurance needed.

Paul Karyakos: Now, everything like that saved myself about 500 bucks, total for gas and everything that added up. Uh, so my expenses were a lot lower and now I was working from home. So there's no commute. And I just went full time. I [00:17:00] was like, okay, how do I make this work? And it kind of just started escalating from. And I kept grinding and kept grinding in that year.

Paul Karyakos: I remember seeing the analytics, uh, I had, at one point I was making like 150 bucks a month on YouTube. Right. Just not making anything. And I was like, okay, I've seen the highs. I know what the highs can potentially be from the previous year while I was still working full-time this is the low. So if I stick out with this and see where it goes, thanks to Patreon and the support from the community, I can make it.

Paul Karyakos: And for about three or four months, I was probably only making about 1300 bucks a month. Right. Doing content full-time. And then eventually, maybe some algorithm shifted or YouTube found out what my channel was about or whatever. And it started to pick up enough steam to stay consistent. And it's kind of grown since there.

Paul Karyakos: And ever since then, I've been able to build this out into a bigger business. I feel like [00:18:00] even if it is solo, so the journey has. Very difficult, uh, and not without its trials and tribulations. For sure. 

David Tintner: Do you know what, um, you attribute the growth to is just the consistency or is there something specifically that you changed and you saw that, that, led to, more subscribers, more views and more 


Paul Karyakos: Um, the, the biggest change I will say, uh, because I was doing chef reacts content, which got crazy amounts of views and this and that , I stopped doing that on my main channel, because of thinking about it now with the hotel mindset, right. That now business mindset.

Paul Karyakos: This is no longer a, oh, I'm doing it for fun in which I am. I'm just, I still have a blast. I couldn't see myself doing anything else, but I started looking at it as an actual business and shifting from. Content that could potentially be striked or copy striked or whatever other companies don't want to work with you because you're using this material.

Paul Karyakos: And it's just me commenting on [00:19:00] food stuff, you know? And it's super innocent. I realized that I needed to make it to where I could reach out to other brands.

Paul Karyakos: Right. So I see them as vendors. I literally will attribute everything back to like the hotel world. If I'm making chef reaction content on an anime that crunchy roll hosts, crunchy rolls the biggest anime streaming service. Right. They would probably just look at my channel and say, we don't want to work with him because he's doing this content.

Paul Karyakos: Right. And I would totally understand that I totally get that. So I started shifting more into the cooking aspect of the channel. Um, and that also. Food content has better CPMs and RPMs right on the backend. Uh, cooking content typically makes more money than reaction content, but reaction content has virality potential.

Paul Karyakos: So there's all these different things that you have to look at. Uh, you look at one of the biggest YouTubers on the platform is triple S Sniper Wolf. I don't know how she uses her handle. She just does Tik TOK reactions, right? 700 million views a month [00:20:00] for Tik TOK reactions. It does one video a day.

Paul Karyakos: And when you look at that, there's massive amounts of views, but you have to look at the money coming in versus maybe a Mr. Beast who gets a massive amount of views. But his CPMs and RPMs are much higher because of the content he makes. Right? So I started looking at my channel now as a business, how do I make this a brand?

Paul Karyakos: How do we make chef PK a brand? What are people interested in? People are interested in cooking, but I've slowly realized that they're interested in this stuff that they can make right now right. So I had to start to shift, uh, not only that they like seeing their favorite IP anime video game come to life.

Paul Karyakos: They like seeing that aspect of it. I started to go into that direction because I had a lot of knowledge in the kitchen and because I trained a lot of cooks, it was easy to translate that behavior on camera. Right. It still took a while to become comfortable on camera, but being able to say, okay, [00:21:00] where do I see myself in 10 years?

Paul Karyakos:  Do I see myself reacting to videos in 10 years? Probably not. Right. But I can see myself owning my own chef brand where maybe it's really cool knives, really cool merchandise. Uh, maybe even a convention, maybe, you know, pop-up eateries, which is something that we actually have on the horizon. You know, people will go to a chef PK, pop-up eatery.

Paul Karyakos: They're not going to go to a chef PK react eatery. It doesn't make any sense. But it all comes back to our earlier conversation of, I like feeding people cause feeding people's fun. Right. So that's where all that starts to go. I started really pushing for that direction of the channel. And it's come to a point to where now I feel like we're in a better position to hopefully within the next three years to be able to fund projects like that.

Paul Karyakos: Whereas before doing reaction content or whatever it is, which is still fun. And I have a second channel for it. Isn't the main driver anymore. 

David Tintner: You mentioned a few different revenue streams mention [00:22:00] Patreon on the, uh, programmatic advertising. Uh, you also do some brand deals.

David Tintner: How are each of those streams what Percentage of your total revenue and then making up, or at least your strategy is sort of more than that you're going after. 

Paul Karyakos: Yeah, totally. Uh, my ad sense revenue, I will say going off of like this year, since we're almost through the year as, uh, is probably close to like 40% of my revenue.

Paul Karyakos: The other 60 will come from part of maybe like 10% from Patreon which isn't very, very much, uh, and then quite a bit from brand deals, quite a bit from just merchandise sales and like we're reworking our website and stuff to make it more accessible for people. But YouTube doesn't pay as much as, as a lot of people think when you're smaller,

Paul Karyakos: that obviously scales exponentially over time. Um, but for me, I see YouTube allowing me to facilitate my brand into [00:23:00] bigger projects, right? When you look at again, Mr. Beast or, or Jimmy, uh, after seeing him at vid summit, his end game is potentially like mobile apps, right? Cause they're infinitely, scalable

Paul Karyakos: be Spurger, infinitely, scalable. Those bring in a ton of money and revenue ad sends still brings him a lot of money. But when people say, oh, well Ryan's toy reviews was the most paid channel on YouTube. You're like, yeah, maybe by ad sense dollars, you know, but a guy like Jimmy spent $45 million, spent $45 million last year on videos.

Paul Karyakos: That's a, that's, that's a lot of money, you know, and they're still making money. So how much is he actually putting in his pocket? So I think as far as my personal growth goes, I'm hoping that AdSense will only ever be like 20%. And. If it's, if it's 50 or 60 or whatever, that's great, but it's super volatile.

Paul Karyakos: So I budget my months right now, based on ad sense, because it is a [00:24:00] significant portion of my income. So I want to buy a thousand dollar, a five Wagyu roast for a video that's two months of budget for me, for food videos, right. For that one video. So I have to make sure that that video performs to at least make the money back.

Paul Karyakos: And then there's that whole conversation who's going to watch it. How do you make it clickable? Not clickbait. It's a stupid word. How do you make it clickable? Um, so I see it as, okay. YouTube is a driver. YouTube is ad sense. It's just bonus. Maybe eventually that'll be someone else's salary, um, to bring about the idea of having my own pop-ups in my own conventions, because again, 

Paul Karyakos: that's where you can exponentially grow and I'm personally working with a couple of brands, like guys, like ThoughtLeaders, you know, to, to help bring in some extra revenue for the channel, which has been very significant. Uh, but a big thing for me is working with conventions. So one of my biggest sponsors this year was anime NYC and left-field media and shout out to them like they're, they're fantastic.

Paul Karyakos: I love working with them. So , if everything works [00:25:00] out for them, they control for conventions. So now I'll potentially do four conventions for them bringing in four times the amount of revenue as I did this year. And then it just scales from there. I can work with them to create my own convention that I already have.

Paul Karyakos: It's going to be like based on cosplay and food, it's going to be amazing, you know, and have all these pop-ups and bring in different eateries and food trucks and make it this experience. That's where I can see a lot of my revenue coming from because that can be infinitely, scaled. And, and it literally a global sense where you can have this pop-up in London, you can do one in New York, you can do one in LA.

Paul Karyakos: It doesn't matter. That's where I see my brand going, versus just relying on ad sense because AdSense, like most of YouTube is very fickle and very demanding at the same time. So 

David Tintner: are there, um, are there any hard plans yet for the conventions and the in-person stuff? Or where does that 

Paul Karyakos: stand today? As of now, it isn't set in stone because we still don't know what's going to be happening for 2022.

Paul Karyakos: I have a very strong feeling. [00:26:00] 2022 is going to open up a lot of things. Based on the conventions I've gone to this year. Uh I've I've already attended three this year. Uh, I have another three planned before the end of the year. It's weird because the conventions are much smaller right now.

Paul Karyakos: Right. For obvious reasons. But it gives me goosebumps thinking about it, seeing how happy people were to just be there, even with masks, even people who have had to be vaccinated or showed a negative test, seeing people be out and about dressed up, hanging out with their friends, you know, having a beer dressed up as Cinderella.

Paul Karyakos: Like it's amazing. Right? It's seeing that stuff. There is still a massive market for it. I'm going to basically play out 2022, inserting myself into as many conventions as possible and offering those conventions as much help as I possibly can. How do I connect you with who? I know. How do we make this thing better for the experience of the guest?

Paul Karyakos: It's it's that very like hospitality mentality that I have, where, how do we make it better for the guest, right. Even if [00:27:00] it's a sacrifice of sleep or money or whatever, how do we make it better for them? So for me, it's, it's really becoming a part of that scene next year, using YouTube as a driver and then eventually rocketing into my own convention with maybe another bigger company like left-field or something like that.

David Tintner: So it feels like the conventions give you, probably one of the most, I guess, closest or most, intimate ways to react with your fans, your audience and the people. What are some other ways that you're really focusing on to build that audience that aren't 

Paul Karyakos: in person that has. I have a very tough trial for me because I, I don't like live streaming.

Paul Karyakos: I'll just flat out say it. Like I have a very hard time live streaming like, it's very difficult to connect that way. What I am hoping to do to connect with my audience is live stream certain things where maybe we do what food beast does they do, like, you know cooking battles on Twitch. That's super fun. I could be so [00:28:00] into that.

Paul Karyakos: It's only like 30 or 40 minutes, you know, do things like that. Basically bring iron chef back, you know, so I'm trying to work with them eventually

David Tintner: so yeah, I really liked this idea that basically it's, it's about, turning things that it sounds like things that you were already going to record

David Tintner: and make them live. And that's just a different way of seeing the thing that you're kind of maximizing the content that you were probably already going 

Paul Karyakos: to create. Exactly. And being able to diversify that way. Uh, so for, for me being online and, and chatting with people like we have a small discord and I try to be active in the comments and things to just talk to people on a more personal level.

Paul Karyakos: But I know from speaking with other people in the space, it gets very difficult as you grow right. Almost impossible at a certain point. So instead, you know, that you're most dedicated, I hate to say fans, it's such a weird word. It was dedicated community members, right. Are going to come out for a show that might be local to them.

Paul Karyakos: And you can connect at a way more personal [00:29:00] scale where maybe you're just having some chicken nuggets next to them at a convention. You know, that to me is more important than kind of The massive sea of people that might be in a chat. Right. It's very difficult to just communicate with someone, you know, maybe just ask about their day or what they're eating 

Paul Karyakos: I mean, perfect example is I was at penny arcade expo and I was full, full on cosplay. I had a helmet on, so nobody knew who I was, whatever, but I did post the picture of who I was wearing on Twitter and Instagram. So I walked into the beer garden and a couple of people recognize me like, Hey chef. I'm like I had, I gave them free books, you know, and they just hung out with them for a minute, had a beer with them.

Paul Karyakos: And like, that's super fun to me. So I see it as, yes, you may be excluding some people and hopefully you can minimize that. But those personal experiences, if you're changing one life in that way, even if it's just a conversation is super important, 

David Tintner: does your audience today help you decide what contents you [00:30:00] create or how much are they 

Paul Karyakos: yeah. After vid summit, which is a very data driven convention, um, it kind of opened my eyes a lot. . I try to touch base on like some of my community's favorites and things like that. And, and try to really keep my finger on the pulse of what they enjoy, because YouTube is a service industry.

Paul Karyakos: Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar, right? YouTube is a service industry. You're serving an audience. And what I have seen and realized is that people, again, it goes back to the restaurant thing, cause I will always make these analogies. Even if someone hates the food, if they're nice enough, they won't tell you.

Paul Karyakos: So they'll just be like, oh yeah, it was great. But then never come back. You just don't know if that person didn't come. What you can see on YouTube is when they leave, what they click on, how long they watched, it's way more data driven than anyone thinks.[00:31:00] 

Paul Karyakos: I know when you left my restaurant, I know at how many minutes you stayed at my restaurant, I know whether or not you ordered this thing off the menu and the menu being the videos that I have of. Right. This video didn't do well. I can look at my playlist. And one of my most successful videos in the past 90 days was a video that didn't have a lot to do about cooking.

Paul Karyakos: It was me making a chocolate finger filled with jam. I did a silicone mold. It was this whole thing. And I brought it to the English voice actor of a super popular anime at PACS and had it packaged in the original package. And he thought it was a replica. So I was gonna have him sign it. And then I broke it in front of him and ate it.

Paul Karyakos: And just seeing his response was like, what the hell just happened? Right. That video, even though it wasn't my normal content performed exceptionally well compared to my other content. So knowing that I'm trying it again, right. Because there was an audience for that. It brought in a massive amount of people to the channel,

Paul Karyakos: who want that content [00:32:00] making content for comments, isn't very effective. Right. I do look at comments like, Hey Paul, you should try making this or making this. And I write down every single idea. My notion is, is filled to the brim with ideas. It's, it's kind of daunting to look at sometimes, cause I'll write down every single thing someone talks about, but I make content a lot of it on what I'm excited about also what has performed.

Paul Karyakos: But if it's performed on something that I just didn't care for, I won't do it again because I'm not excited about it. I'm currently working on a video that I am like I was working on one video editing it and now I'm like push that video to the side. Cause I got this other one that I'm like super stoked to work on.

Paul Karyakos: Right. It was super fun to make very different. Still has to do with food. And I know it's going to do well because it's that audience that watched the chocolate finger video. So I will make content based on what my community wants, but also based on what they have shown me in the analytics. Right. Cause analytics don't lie

Paul Karyakos: and they don't, they can't lie. It's [00:33:00] just data. So that's, that's how a lot of my content has started to evolve over time. Right. Not necessarily making content just for the analytics, but taking it into account into what I want to make in the future. That's the best way to put it because otherwise you don't grow.

Paul Karyakos: That's how you stay stagnant on the platform. 

David Tintner: That makes a lot of sense. And so what are your growth goals? Let's say for the next year where you mentioned talking about where you wanted to be in 10 years. 

Paul Karyakos: Yeah, no, absolutely. I want to see happen so next year, um, I don't typically try to set number related goals because it's very hard to keep a track of, for the most part.

Paul Karyakos: It's very hard to YouTube goes in waves, right? So you may be at a low and then you're like, oh, it's been a year. And I didn't hit my mark, but literally like a year and a day. And your channel skyrockets. So it's hard to determine that instead, one of my goals is to attend 10 conventions as a guest,

Paul Karyakos: and be paid for that. That way. If I'm attending 10 different conventions next year and being paid to do it, it's a lot of [00:34:00] fun. I can make content around it. I can work with those brands. I can meet people. That's one of my primary goals for next year, monetary wise. I just want to be able to hire a full-time editor and potentially a cinematographer, 

Paul Karyakos: to help me with filming or whatever the case is. That's going to be two of my goals. So whatever money that is to get there is what I'm trying to reach. The reason why I bring that up is because I did this whole thing with Darrell leaves, where we did a 12 week bootcamp, like, you know, trying to learn about video.

Paul Karyakos: And he brought that up. He's like, it's very difficult to set monetary goals. You can, there's nothing wrong with it. But instead, come up with an idea first that can pay you in the long run. Right? So to me, If I am a guest at a convention and each convention pays me $20,000 as a package deal to do videos for them, plus appearances and whatever.

Paul Karyakos: If you attend 10 that's $200,000, that you can then pay people, that'll now allow you to hire the cinematographer, hire the editor. And it all just comes down from that one idea, attend 10 [00:35:00] conventions paid it's the easiest way to look at it. 

David Tintner: That's bulk of, um, the, let's say the money that you want to invest in other things for your business is going to come from.

Paul Karyakos: Yeah, absolutely. So I, this next year will technically be in April, will be year three for my channel. And looking at the overall timelines of YouTube channels, year three is where things kind of start to pick up steam for a lot of creators. Um, especially if you've made the right changes. So I'm not banking on that.

Paul Karyakos: I still want to make the best content I can, but it's very different than it was a couple of years ago where it was like literally a year and 18 months to two years was what does that mark? Now it's being pushed because there's so many good creators out there. And so YouTube, it's almost like a, a test of attrition, right?

Paul Karyakos: So I see it as, okay, this is my year three. I have, I have a fairly good idea of what my audience wants. I have better, better editing skills, better talking on camera skills, better recording skills, better, [00:36:00] everything skills than I did two years ago. Right? So year three is where I want to bring everything together and make.

Paul Karyakos: 52 to a hundred videos that are just solid, not even, I'm sorry, not even 50 to whatever, whatever. Yeah. 50 to 52 weeks, one per week. Right? So 52 videos, two potentially more that are completely solid, right? That are not messing around with thumbnails too much. So you brand your thumbnails a certain way now to where, you know, the editing style is consistent to where the ideas can be bigger, but the experiences is the same as better.

Paul Karyakos: Right. And that's where that year is going to be. It's no longer a building year. This is more of a, a foundation year, where this is, the foundation is going to be year three and how I want to take the business. Uh, and I 

David Tintner: love to how much you, you mentioned that you had the background in kind of the hotel restaurants and how that was different.

David Tintner: And I see that talking with you that this is hardcore business, [00:37:00] and you're diving into the. The what I need to do in order to get the funds I need in order to invest that back into the business, to grow one of the things that we think a lot about with our business. And I'm curious, how you think about it too, is you, you want to essentially make more money so you can invest it back into your business to make more money or to make more stuff, right?

David Tintner: Yeah. And you, it's almost this, a little bit of like this chicken and the egg, um, of, if you pay more money now for these things that are going to make you more money later, then you can get that money sooner, but you don't have the money now. How do you think about this balance between them in the case of your investments?

David Tintner: You talked about like hiring the cinematographer and the editor. 

Paul Karyakos: So for me, I lived very frugally. Like I don't spend money. Um, the most I spend is like, I, I treated myself to a new tattoo, like, you know, after however many years of not getting one, uh, I sold my car and I bought a one wheel.

Paul Karyakos: Like I [00:38:00] spent a little bit of money and bought an electric skateboard to get around town. Uh, my, my in-laws, we were going to, we were thinking about buying a used car and just to have a second car. Cause my wife and I were getting around with just one vehicle after selling mine for about three years.

Paul Karyakos: And they had a spare older, like Toyota. We're like, that's awesome. And they're like, just take it because we don't want, they have three vehicles. So they just like perfect. I I've realized now that it's more important for me to make sacrifices in like the, my own life, I guess, in a certain way to make better business decisions, because I know that pays off in dividends.

Paul Karyakos: Right. I already know this from the hotel industry where if we bring it back to that, the hotel that I worked at for so many years was in San Diego. And during the summertime, during not even summertime between the, between may to October, you made 70% of our revenue for the year, right? So you budget the slower [00:39:00] winter months with either convened with either, you know, uh, groups or, you know, conferences or whatever, because the hotel is not full because it's ugly weather by the beach, whatever, you know, you're not making money those years, those months.

Paul Karyakos: So I treat my YouTube channel the same, it all goes ebbs and flows. I would rather spend two grand one month on, on a video and not make any money in my pocket that month. Right. Just to make sure that within the next 90 days, that video that I spent $2,000 on was as good as it possibly could be because I, it could potentially make me four times the amount I spent.

Paul Karyakos: Right, but if it doesn't it's okay. Cause I budgeted it for the year. And so that's how I start to look at my, my own finances in my own channel, where again, I I'd rather take the, hit my own personal life and not get something nice and just spend the money on a video because that's way more fun to me.

David Tintner: Uh, I really, I definitely can understand that. How much are you going to budget, uh, [00:40:00] for all of your video creation for next year? Do you have a number 

Paul Karyakos: of 

Paul Karyakos: mind? This year, I've budgeted about $400 a month. Uh, so about a hundred dollars a video for raw materials. And I don't consider my time at all my time.

Paul Karyakos: I don't pay myself per hour or anything like that, uh, which I probably will in the future when the money makes sense. Uh, as of now I budget about $400, a hundred dollars per video, some bigger videos if there's travel or whatever involved, like the one for penny arcade expo, like I bought tickets to the show, just the tickets were a hundred dollars to get in, you know, gas, whatever those things add up here and there, uh, next year I'm hoping to be able to budget about double that, right?

Paul Karyakos: Honestly, 200 to $500 per video. So between $802,000 a month, I know it's a huge disparity, but because of some of the bigger ideas that I have, I need that disparity. Uh, and the videos that I want. Or things like I [00:41:00] tried to make 200 souffle omelets, like in food wars, that's a lot of eggs. I already know I'm going to be spending half a month budget just on eggs.

Paul Karyakos: And then I don't want them to go to waste. So I'm going to go try to find a small place where I can set up shop and give people free omelets, you know, that costs money just to do all of that. So the money isn't technically per video, I would say it's more per month. 

Paul Karyakos: That's just food costs and like raw material costs, uh, that doesn't count travel. That doesn't count anything else. Um, I try not to look at it that way only because some videos require it. Some don't, I'm not always filming on location. I'm usually filming 

at my home

David Tintner: But I think that gives a lot of perspective to other creators out there and also to, to brands that are, I want to work with creators about how much money it costs. As you mentioned, this is kind of like the most basic costs. Like you have a food channel, so without food, there's no video, right.

David Tintner: You're not even there's additional cost. And so then you'll have the editor, uh, cinematographer write an additional cost [00:42:00] to the brand and everything around the content creation, which is the food, the, the props, if you will, for the video itself, we're looking at something like 12 grand 

David Tintner: for next year.

Paul Karyakos: Yeah. Yeah. That sounds about right. 

David Tintner: I want to ask you now is we do have a single video that has, like, you mentioned, like the, the I'll walk you steak, that would be like over a thousand dollars or something, right? Like a 12th of the annual budget into like, the video.

David Tintner: What, what would be like your mark of success 

Paul Karyakos: for that video? Just straight up breakeven. Yeah. I would love to break you. I know I won't, uh, over, over the course of a year, I will probably break even on it. Right. Um, in 30 days, I won't in 90 days, I, depending on the channel at the time, I probably won't. And I'm just saying that because of what I've experienced in the past, but I know a lot more by the time I filmed that video that I did back then.

Paul Karyakos: Right. So even if let's say October of last year versus this year, I'm making more money. Right? So if I make a video like [00:43:00] that, where yeah, I'm spending a thousand dollars on the, just on the steak, not including my time, but that might be 2%

Paul Karyakos: of what I budgeted. You know, if I, if I look at it that way in the long run, right? Where 12% of my annual let's say, even, let's say, let's say I spend 10% of my budget of my, of my income per year on food costs. 10%. This year is way more significant than it might be next year. So that's how I start to see it because YouTube is definitely money over time.

Paul Karyakos: It's the marathon thing. So yes, it would suck. I'm like, all right. I talked to my wife, I'm already going to order it, you know, and I have to do the whole click baity thing. I made the most expensive dish in food wars with like the giant roast arrow thousand dollars thumbnail. That's the video. Right. And then play it up, make sure it's a certain length, so you can get those sweet mid-roll ads.

Paul Karyakos: And yes, I'm saying that because that has to be a thing. Uh, but also to make it a good experience, you know? Yes. We get to eat it. [00:44:00] So I'm very, very thankful that a lot of that is just tax deductible because I'm using it for business. So eat my videos. So that helps a lot. Uh, it's going to show by tax guys and be like, why did you spend a thousand dollars on steak?

Paul Karyakos: I'm like, don't worry about it. Just watch this video instead. Uh, but you take all those things into account, right? But it's also the experience. I I've had a five Wagyu beef once in my life now I'm going to buy a seven pound loin and invite friends over and make it a big ordeal. Tell them it's from food wars.

Paul Karyakos: And they'd be like, really? This is a food wars thing and get that reaction. So the video idea is super fun. So the thousand dollars is whatever, you know, I won't make any money that month in my pocket. Uh, I will say now for anyone, who's maybe listening to this who wants to be a content creator. I make less money now than I did as a hotel chef

Paul Karyakos: Just flat out because I'm, even if I show more on paper, uh, I spent a lot of money last year on having to travel expenses, [00:45:00] equipment that I needed just, uh, upgrading cameras. So I can have better film for you guys. Right. Those things add up quite a bit where it's not good business practice, but I was able to do it.

Paul Karyakos: I spent 40% of my overall revenue last year on the business. Right. And I kept 60, uh, 60%. And it was enough to get by, right again, like, don't go out. We haven't been on a vacation in two and a half years, like just because of everything happening too. But I spent a ton of my money to build the business. So looking at like those individual costs, if you can manage, they're going to be insignificant in the long run, right.

David Tintner: Yeah. I mean, it's definitely an investment. And, um, and also I love the way that you're thinking about it, that you're talking about, you know, going and see into year three, that you've been laying this foundation, your business and your brand is turning into, uh, for the long run where it's gonna pay dividends for you later.

Paul Karyakos: Yeah, absolutely. And it, and it, like, you have to look at your, [00:46:00] your social media. If you're doing this, your channel, your Tik Tok your Instagram as a brand. Right. And I made this very, very tough decision of my own channel, where I deleted 10 million views off of my channel, uh, last week. Right. They were all of my chef reacts videos and I removed them from my main channel and move them to a secondary channel.

Paul Karyakos: And I made that decision because it was better for my brand. For me, to work with other companies. Could you imagine if I made this analogy in the video, if you go up to you, everybody's telling you about this taco truck, go to the taco truck, go get some beer, your tacos go, you know, whatever, and you get there and you order tacos, you order the good Carnie side of tacos with all the guac and everything.

Paul Karyakos: And they give you lasagna. And you're like, bro, what the hell is this? I, I came here for tacos. Like, yeah, it's probably the best lasagna of your life. But like I wanted the day of tacos, right? Like expectations just shot. It's the same with a YouTube channel. Uh, when, when people look for your brand and they say chef [00:47:00] PK, and maybe they were served a video that was reaction video.

Paul Karyakos: And they go to your channel and see nothing but cooking videos they're thrown off. So sometimes you have to make the tough decision upfront of deleting a ton of views, deleting a potential ton of impressions, probably killing my channel for the next six months. And I'm okay with it because I know in the long run it's better overall.

Paul Karyakos: Right. I already told my wife, I was like, I'm probably going to buckle down. But it's fine because she's seen the rollercoaster with me. So she's very understanding. And I was like, listen, I'm going to do a stupid thing. It's probably going to kill the channel until YouTube figures itself out with its algorithms again.

Paul Karyakos: Cause it takes 90 to 120 days for it to really figure itself out. And then it's going to pay in dividends in year five. If you're not looking at it that way, why are you in business? Right. 

David Tintner: Wow. And, and those 10 million views were over how many videos? 

David Tintner: Approximately 

Paul Karyakos: a 98 videos. I think so. A lot of videos too.

Paul Karyakos: Yeah. A lot of them. [00:48:00] Yeah. So it, but again, it also was personal because I felt like I had content that didn't belong on one channel. Right. It just didn't make sense to me, no matter who I talked with, everyone's like, oh, just go with your gut feeling. I'm like, listen, it's a restaurant. This is a shitty restaurant.

Paul Karyakos: Cause you got too many weird things on your menu. You know, remove them from this side, open up a new restaurant, go over there for that. That's how I see it. 

David Tintner: Yeah. Yeah. I really, I missed him from how important it is to be on brand all the time and really make the experience that people expect when they come actually be the experience that they get.

Paul Karyakos: Exactly. It's, it's meeting the expectation of your guest, right? Not the viewer, not the, not the customer. They're your guests. They're coming to your channel there or watching a video. They came through the door, they're, you know, absorbing the content, whatever it's about them. People who make selfish content, you know, as much as I love doing what I do in a very [00:49:00] selfish way, I, it makes me happy doing this.

Paul Karyakos: It's still not about me. Right. And I, and I've learned that more over the last three or four months, right? More than anything that this is about the viewer, the guest, the, their experience kind of thing.

David Tintner: First of all. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. Uh, love what you're doing with the channel, and it's been awesome to see it grow and really excited to see where you take it into this next year and, uh, and everything you have in store. , before we sign off here, you want to give everyone, um, maybe where can they meet you at, 

David Tintner: next?

Paul Karyakos: Yeah, totally. Uh, in-person. I will be at Anime NYC. It runs from November 18th to the 21st I believe. And, uh, I'm going to be in full cosplay. I'll be revealing my who, epic cosplay. It's going to be so much fun. Uh, and other than that, any of the socials is just going to be chef PK and it's probably going to be an Anime profile picture.

Paul Karyakos: So you'll know it's me. Uh, but other than that, I, [00:50:00] I really appreciate your time and, and hope that this conversation was, it was also beneficial to anyone who's looking to get in content creation. Uh, anyone who, who really just wants to cook or just, just enjoyed it. Yeah. Thanks for. 

David Tintner: Well, thank you very much

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