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Alabama home chef is part of a national YouTube campaign

OZARK, Ala. (AP) — Watching the YouTube channel Mae Mae’s Happy Table, viewers will learn to make some authentic down-home dishes.

Videos cover fried pork chops, cubed steak, and turnip greens with corn meal dumplings, old-fashioned fried collard greens, hot water cornbread, homemade chicken dumplings, sweet potato pie, creamy macaroni and cheese, and black eye peas with hog jowl.

Mae Mae’s Happy Table is about as Southern and soulful as food can get.

“I mostly try to give them the basic foundation that I know share my skills of basic foundational cooking, and then they add their own twist and seasoning to it to make it their own,” said home chef Clara Tucker, better known as Mae Mae.

The YouTube channel — which started in 2019 — has 145,000 subscribers and is one of five YouTube channels chosen to represent Alabama in YouTube’s national campaign the United States of YouTube (US of YT).

The national campaign was created to promote what YouTube calls the “creator economy” — the collection of everyday people around the country who have used the video platform to teach, create and share their skills with others. Many have discovered new livelihoods. There are channels that help people learn to sew or cut hair or even cook.

Along with Mae Mae’s Happy Table, other Alabama YouTube channels featured in the campaign include a science-themed channel full of experiments called Smarter Every Day; the entertainment video channel It’s a Southern Thing; soap maker Krystn Keller, who developed a line of natural soap to treat of her infant son’s eczema and turned it into a business; and a Decatur pet owner who highlights her reptiles to help educate others.

“I was just really honored that I was chosen to represent Alabama,” Tucker, an Ozark resident, said.

According to a report by YouTube and Oxford Economics, the creator economy supported the equivalent of 394,000 full-time jobs in the U.S. during 2020 and contributed $20.5 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product — an increase of 23% over 2019.

For her part, Tucker has done a few product reviews on her channel, but for the most part she just likes to cook for people.

Tucker — Mae is her middle name — posts about three videos a week if she can. There are videos on how to clean and prepare fresh greens, make giblet gravy, make a proper pitcher of sweet tea, or how her husband’s vegetable garden is progressing. Weekly meal segments might include fried catfish filet with air fryer fries or Boston butt with macaroni and cheese, a thick slice of cornbread, fresh tomato slices, white pies, and candied yams. She even does subscriber requests.

Among the most popular cooking videos on the channel include tender and moist Southern fried chicken (624,000 views); how to make fried pig feet (764,000 views); and old-fashioned fried collard greens (1.6 million views).

She doesn’t want her simple “landmark” cooking style to be lost.

Tucker started on social media slowly a few years ago after receiving an iPad, first with a Facebook page and then the YouTube channel. She turned to YouTube for cooking videos. After seeing her young granddaughters absorbed in YouTube videos, Tucker decided to create her own cooking channel so she could document her recipes and the kitchen skills she learned over her life for her granddaughters.

The channel has become so much more than she ever expected. She hears from subscribers who say her videos and cooking style remind them of their grandmothers.

“There’s a few I say God put them in my life that I communicate with,” Tucker said. “You wouldn’t believe the nice people that you will encounter that don’t even know you, just know you through your videos and stuff.”

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