EXCLUSIVE: Imagine Kids+Family has taken an equity stake in The Tiny Chef Show, an an online brand targeting kids and families built around the Tiny Chef character, a green, five-inch-tall chef with a round body and a striped apron who has his own Instagram feed and stop-motion animated video shorts on YouTube.
Launched on social channels last October, The Tiny Chef garnered national attention this past spring when actress Kristen Bell joined its army of fans. Bell, who has been promoting the character and its online adventures on social media, also formed a formal partnership with The Tiny Chef after discovering the property.
Imagine will now partner with The Tiny Chef Show creator, animator Rachel Larsen (Coraline, ParaNorman, and Isle of Dogs), along with co-creators Adam Reid and Ozlem Akturk and Bell, to develop the original short-form stop-motion animation Tiny Chef character across all platforms. Content development will include short-form, TV series, and digital, with. Imagine Entertainment chairmen Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, and Imagine Kids+Family president Stephanie Sperber executive producing.
The strategy for building Tiny Chef into a global franchise also includes a consumer products program that is built on The Tiny Chef Show values of sustainability, community, music, humor, inclusion and finding the joy in the every day. The portfolio will include products, gaming, publishing, live-events, in-school, and more.
The Tiny Chef Show has developed a cult following through its short-form stop-motion animation featuring the Tiny Chef, voiced by Matt Hutchinson, as he cooks, sings, and lives his life in his tree-stump house.
“I fell in love with The Tiny Chef immediately and saw the potential to build a global franchise,” said Sperber. “The content potential is massive, as the Chef can live on different platforms from short-form to series and beyond – and the consumer products opportunity is truly exciting as we will look to create engagement with the Chef beyond content. His message is something that will resonate with kids and families around the world.”
On Instagram, where The Tiny Chef Show has amassed 364K followers, Larsen has been chronicling — in photos and minute-long videos (you can watch one below) — Chef’s enthusiasm for cooking, including baking pies in bottle caps and rolling out dough for tiny pizzas with a matchstick, as well as exploring new places and experiences, like going to the market or the beach.
In March, the Tiny chef inked a two-book deal with Penguin after a bidding war.
“Imagine could not be a better fit with what The Tiny Chef stands for. We know they’ll bring the Chef’s good nature, pure heart, and sense of creativity to the franchise, and we cannot wait to spread the Chef’s joy on a global scale with Imagine as our partner.” said Larsen.
Added Bell, “The Tiny Chef comes in a very small package, but his contribution to positivity, hope, education and community is vast. The team at Tiny Chef uses their unique sense of humor to create content that results in pure joy for the consumer and I am thrilled to help bring him to the masses,” said Bell.
launched in January with Sperber at the helm, Imagine Kids+Family recently landed their first live-action series with Nickelodeon, a partnership with James Patterson’s kids division Jimmy Books, and a partnership with LIFE to develop LIFE for Kids, an animated series using images from the iconic picture magazine to bring history to life for kids.
CAA shepherded the deal on behalf of The Tiny Chef Show.