In many ways, watching J. Kenji López-Alt’s eponymous “Kenji’s Cooking Show” is like visiting a friend (if that friend lives on YouTube). You’re greeted with a warm, direct introduction from the host, whose familiar face is often equipped with the decidedly fatherly GoPro that has become a signature filming tool in his Seattle eat-in kitchen. “Hello everyone, this is Kenji. We’re going to roast some veggies with, uh, garlic and ginger,” says the chef and cookbook author in a recent episode.
Whether he’s divulging the secrets of his mother’s Japanese mapo tofu, rescuing an upside-down blueberry pie, or celebrating his wife’s Colombian heritage with ajiaco soup, López-Alt never fails to capture an idle moment with a snippet of the dish’s history fill in question, a nutrition-related science lesson (terms like “square-cube law” and “Maillard reaction” abound), or an anecdote from his colorful past as a chef and food writer—all with the relaxed rhythm of someone who isn’t. Don’t be afraid to implement plan B, C, or D when a cooking plan gets out of hand.
At the end of each episode, López-Alt isn’t the only one savoring the fruits of his labor. He’s almost always handing out morsels of human food for his dogs, Jamón and Shabu, who are perhaps the most gastronomically progressive dogs in the Seattle area. This week, however, the cooking expert shared some very sad news about Shabu in an Instagram post, earning the pup’s condolences from droves of internet fans.
Shabu will be missing
López-Alt posted to Instagram this week to announce Shabu’s death. “I had to say goodbye to this good girl today,” he wrote. “Cancer sucks. Be nice to your furry and scaly and slimy friends. They never live long enough.” Celebrity chef and TV presenter Andrew Zimmer started the more than 1,500 comments by sending his love. “It hurts me every time I see this,” he wrote. “Losing Pretzel last year was the worst. I want them to age with me, that’s for sure.” Other food industry figures such as Tom Colicchio and Pailin Chongchitnant also expressed their condolences.
In videos, López-Alt occasionally noted Shabu’s old age and fading eyesight as he threw her treats off his plate — some of which she caught and others licked off the floor. It’s clear that the feisty, adorable mutt lived a long and well-groomed life in the López-Alt household alongside her canine counterpart, the “Shar-Pei/Pug mix” Jamón (via Twitter). The next installment of Kenji’s Cooking Show won’t be the same without Shabu, but we have no doubt that the chef will keep her legacy alive.