AUSTIN (KXAN) — A retired cable company employee celebrated a milestone recently when YouTube sent him its Silver Creator Award, marking 100,000 subscribers to his barbecue-themed channel.
Troy Smith shoots new installments of T-Roy Cooks mostly in his back yard in northwest Austin, where he spends his days sitting by the pool and occasionally tending to one of several smokers and barbecue pits that surround his patio.
“Some people like to go fishing, some people like to go hiking,” he said. “I like making videos.”
His followers seem to like them, too. His most popular video, a tutorial on how to dry-age beef at home, has more than 2.3 million views, and others regularly clock more than 10,000.
Companies send him spices, rubs, meat and even custom barbecue pits to use on his channel. Some creators will charge to feature products, he said, but he’s not interested in that side of the business; he promotes the things that he likes to use.
The most popular YouTubers can make millions of dollars — both in ads and product placement — from their tens of millions of subscribers, but Smith says he’s not doing it for the numbers. In fact, he didn’t realize he’d hit the 100,000 subscriber mark until a friend pointed it out, and he didn’t record a video with the plaque the video site sent him to commemorate the milestone until a fellow YouTube chef talked him into it.
Smith said he does make enough off ad revenue to fund the channel, the food and all the camera gear he needs, but he makes videos primarily to teach people how to cook.
Now pushing close to 150,000 subscribers, he started the six-year-old channel before he retired as a way to teach his son about food.
“He moved out of the house for the first time, didn’t know a thing about cooking,” Smith said. “So I said, I’ll shoot some videos, put them up on my YouTube channel, and that’s how I got started.”
The production values have grown since those first few videos, featuring simple grilled chicken and spaghetti recipes, as has his popularity. Smith said people recognize him when he goes to the store, and he’s always willing to stop and chat with a fan. “Couldn’t do it without them,” he said.
But what hasn’t changed over the course of 22,341,139 views and counting is his mission to educate. He brings his Louisiana heritage to his channel along with the Texas barbecue he’s known for the last 30 years, and he doesn’t plan to stop.
YouTube also offers gold and diamond play buttons for channels that reach 1 million and 10 million subscribers, respectively,
“I’m just going to keep doing it and whatever happens happens,” Smith said.
As for what started all of it, he said he’s still putting up old family recipes for his son to make. But don’t go looking for them; Smith set them to private so only his son can see them.