Get in, Loser, We’re Disrupting Culinary Education
If the entirety of my life were to flash before my eyes, I think a good portion of it would be me camped out in front of the computer watching hours and hours of YouTube. Though I have been a pretty loyal YouTube user for a solid decade now, my most devoted phase was in middle school when I would watch countless baking and cooking videos. It was during this angsty, hormone-fueled time that my love for food (and my determination to cook) really took off.
Though my parents didn’t trust my dishwashing skills (let alone wielding large knives or turning on the stove unattended), I was convinced that my hours of culinary education on YouTube had readied me. Couldn’t they see I had all the knowledge already? I could pronounce all the fancy words like sous vide and amuse-bouche. I just needed to cook.
While I later came to learn that watching videos does not equate to actual cooking skills after several too many Pinterest fails (there is a whole show dedicated to Pinterest fails now!), the videos did give me something valuable for my food journey: confidence. When I crack open a cookbook or look up a recipe, I don’t get freaked out by new terms or foreign cooking methods. After all, my YouTuber teachers probably already made a video about it.
It’s no secret that technology is making education more accessible. But in 2020, when Instagram bloggers and YouTube foodies are competing with big corporations in the online food scene, what’s next for culinary education?
Well, TikTok chefs are here.
To those unfamiliar, TikTok is a social media app that makes and shares short-form videos. Though it was released in 2016, TikTok has really taken off during quarantine as people around the world are bored at home.
People have already started making food-related content, ranging anywhere from trendy recipes (hello, Dalgona coffee!) to food hacks. However, my favorite videos are the TikTokkers teaching people how to make beloved munchies like Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme or McDonald’s fries at home.
Joshuah Nishi (aka @nishcooks) is one of these TikTok personalities (though you can also find him on Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter). A professed self-taught chef boasting 1.7 million followers, Nishi creates short-form videos and teaches you how to make all of your favorite restaurant foods at home (a blessing considering we’re supposed to be sitting at home with a lot more time).
What makes Nishi (and other TikTok chefs) unique from traditional cooking videos is how laid back they and the entire cooking process are. There isn’t an apparent fancy filming studio with professional camera work and lighting. It’s just the chef and a phone/camera. Nishi narrates and throws up short instructions on the screen to go along with what he’s doing on camera. Sometimes he might skip or forget to film a step. Rather than restart the whole video, he rolls with it, keeps filming, and shows the delicious final product before ending the video with his signature “yessuuuuuuuh” catchphrase.
For a sweeter palate, look to dessert professional Jessie Sheehan (@jessiesheehanbakes). On TikTok, Sheehan speaks with an animated, sing-songy voice as she walks viewers through easy to make at home sweet treats. Not only does she keep viewers hooked with her personality, but her recipes often require minimal bowls to focus on simplicity and accessibility.
As if it’s not challenging enough to fit an entire recipe within a maximum time limit of 60 seconds, some TikTokkers are focusing on specific niches.
Chris Cho (@chefchrischo), another TikTok favorite, is a chef described as “Made in Korea, Braised in Philly”. Cho, also with his own impressive 1.2 million followers, makes similarly styled videos but this time, he’s focused on Korean food. Cho teaches viewers more basic tasks such as making rice to showing off awesome fusion dishes like kimchi quesadillas.
Just like Nishi and countless others, Cho’s videos are filled with straightforward instructions, humor, and most importantly, delicious food.
Cooking can be hard. Cooking can be time-consuming. After all, according to all the commissioned studies by millennial haters, these reasons explain why the younger generations are spending less and less time in the kitchen.
Even for the biggest food enthusiast, finding time to recreate an intense recipe may be hard. As big YouTubers up the quality of their videos and companies bring corporate sized budgets to the video creation scene, cooking videos on YouTube and Instagram are becoming too complicated, too flashy, and exactly what you would have seen on TV ten years ago.
However, with the power of other social media apps, these TikTok chefs are not only making cooking seem easy, but they’re keeping it real and entertaining the masses at the same time. Equipped with great content and authenticity, these chefs can convince even the most kitchen-phobic individual to just give cooking a try (Seriously. My friend who couldn’t even watch milk boil without it spilling all over the stovetop sends me Nishi’s videos all the time).
TikTok and food creators are ready to reclaim food and make it accessible again. Get in loser, we’re disrupting culinary education.