The World’s Oldest YouTuber Is a 106-Year-Old Cook

April 28, 2017

The most charismatic celebrity chef I’ve come across in recent memory is a woman named Mastanamma. She just recently turned 106. Mastanamma is based in a village called Gudivada in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where she's lived her whole life. For the past six months, she’s been the subject of quietly absorbing cooking videos broadcast on a YouTube channel called Country Foods.

The idea for this channel came from Mastanamma's great-grandson Laxman, a media professional based in Hyderabad, and his friend Srinath Reddy. When they began Country Foods eight months ago, the duo originally wanted to create a channel solely devoted to featuring bachelors cooking recipes from Andhra Pradesh. Audiences were mildly receptive to these videos, but the response was far from overwhelming.

Six months ago, though, Laxman was visiting his home village when his mother told him about a relative he hadn't seen in years, Mastanamma, and her love of cooking crab curries and quail eggs. Laxman and Reddy found her energy enchanting, so they began recording videos of her. The channel’s received wild success over the past six months, amassing 250,000 subscribers, and she's gained many devotees well outside India.

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In these videos, Mastanamma dispenses her culinary wisdom as others observe in awe. Flickers of her personal life, and the hardships she’s endured in the past century, occasionally make their way into her videos: She was married at 11, quickly became mother of five children (only one of whom survives today), and was widowed at age 22, never marrying again. Throughout this, she hasn't stopped cooking.

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Top Comment:
“My grandmother was an immigrant, oldest of 12 siblings and a fierce woman who lived to be over 100. I adored her. I wish You Tube had been around when she was alive. ”
— Whiteantlers

Below are a few videos from the channel—though, frankly, I'd give them all a watch. They're worth your time.

Crab curry

Egg dosa

Quail Fry

Watermelon chicken

Emu egg fry

See the rest of Mastanamma's videos here.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Nitin May 1, 2017
Hi Mayukh, do you have her contact details?
Panfusine April 28, 2017
Notice how she never directly touches her lips or mouth to her fingers while sampling the food? always from ladle to fingers, and then dropped into the mouth rather than the equivalent of licking it off a tasting spoon? that's is a characteristic of the older generation of home chefs all over South India. licking your fingers to sample food was frowned upon.
Judy F. April 28, 2017
The crab was still alive when she pulled off the legs, claws, and opened the body! I'm not a bleeding heart liberal, and I've cracked my share of our native blue crabs, but they are no longer alive! There are humane way to harvest our foods, and this was like watching a kid torture bugs by pulling off the legs! His stumps were waving wildly (in pain?). Ugh!
Whiteantlers April 28, 2017
Yum! Crab curry.
My grandmother was an immigrant, oldest of 12 siblings and a fierce woman who lived to be over 100. I adored her. I wish You Tube had been around when she was alive.