There’s no denying the power of social media anymore. All one has to do to create a disruptive or peaceful environment is post to their TikTok and slap a catchy title to their trend.
Wasil Daoud (@wasildaoud on TikTok) is all too aware of the negative effects their trend can have. Originally, his content featured dumping large portions of food together for “comedic purposes”. His 11.5 million followers loved the premise of the videos in the beginning, which set off a chain reaction of others following his lead. However, many outside his fan base started commenting on the amount of food he was throwing away. The internet banded together to educate the TikToker on his mistake. One person even created a petition begging Daoud to see the error of his ways.
The food comedian began creating food in reasonable portions after the outcry and apologized for wasting so much food. The copycats also began apologizing and slowly the outlandish proportions of people throwing food away for content subsided. Although the trend died down significantly, it’s not completely gone. No doubt, it will probably haunt TikTok for a while. A grim reminder of the responsibility one holds when deciding to post on social media. But not every trend is a negative one.
Keith Lee was a professional MMA fighter at the age of eighteen. In 2021, he lost his contract with Bellator, and his life took an interesting turn. During his time in the ring, Lee occasionally posted to his TikTok page @keith_lee125 to practice being comfortable in front of the camera. Without a job, he decided to begin posting food reviews on TikTok. His success came swiftly. Beginning with 50k followers, Lee has now amassed a fan base of 13.1 million followers. Millions of restaurants ask him to review their food in his comments section.
“I’m a foodie. I think I brought back natural foodies in the space of food critics. Certain critics are polished, and they only go to certain restaurants, and they go to certain spots. They only stay in a certain niche.”Keith Lee
And while some might interpret his frankness as an insult to critics, there is refreshing honesty in his statement. Many critics only venture to high end restaurants, leaving most restaurants without a higher chance of success.
Southern Taste Seafood, a food truck in Las Vegas was making only two hundred dollars a day before Keith Lee’s review. Now the owners have seen a 900% increase in profit. A Caribbean restaurant in Las Vegas, The Pink Potato, also have an uptick in patrons since Lee visited the establishment in April. His followers call it the “Keith Lee effect”. And the positive effect this TikTok food critic has on the community is undeniable.
Another positive food influencer is Alejandra Tapia (@nanajoe19 on TikTok), who went viral for packing her husband and cousin’s lunch. Originally, she posted recipes to her snapchat for family and friends until her kids introduced her to TikTok. Now Tapia has grown a following of 6.8 million followers. Growing up poor, her grandmother had to find new ways to cook traditional Mexican dishes, so meals weren’t repetitive for her family. Tapia honors her grandmother’s work and remixes Mexican inspired meals for her followers.
“I want to stick to my tradition but twist it. I want to represent my community for the younger generation so they know their roots and traditions and know you can do that in a different way.“Alejandra Tapia
Her influence is undeniable with thousands copying her recipes and keeping those traditions alive.
Tiffy Chen (@TiffyCooks on TikTok) is an influencer who also takes inspiration from her grandmother. Growing up, her grandmother always made her food and always said “Don’t learn this, just come back and I’ll cook it again.”
But after her grandmother passed, Chen didn’t have the recipes for the meals her grandmother would make. And since her grandmother suffered from dementia, she was unable to teach her grandchild the recipes either. She began posting her own journey in the kitchen and her own recipes so her descendants will always have access to the food she makes them. One thing Chen always encourages her 3 million followers to do is relax in the kitchen.
“I am a strong believer in the ethos that there’s no right or wrong in cooking. I am a proud home cook with no knife skills, and I’m okay with that. If you’re starting out as a cook, just get in there and try things. You can always adjust ingredients, and customize things. Never be intimated to try new dishes—especially if you’re trying dishes from another culture. If you love it, that’s what matters. Well, that and if you’re having fun doing it.”Tiffy Chen
This approach to cooking invites beginners into what can sometimes be a rather exclusive community.
Speaking of exclusive communities, Karissa Dumbacher (@KarissaEats on TikTok) has been breaking into the food critic scene since 2020. Quarantined in China for three weeks, the influencer started making food reviews to pass the time. Her account started taking off and to this day has amassed 2.2 million followers. Inspired by critics Anthony Bourdain and Mark Wiens, she continued to make videos when she came out of quarantine and returned to the states.
“These guys who travel around and eat everything, they’re not afraid. I want to embrace that in my videos. Especially because women are still pressured to eat small and neat. They’re told eat to live, don’t live to eat.”Karissa Dumbacher
This example of healthy eating for women, makes Dumbacher’s fan base one of encouragement and recovery in a society that promotes eating disorders more often than not.
One could argue that these influencers’ statements are irrelevant. That they are a tiny minnow in a sea of commentary about food. I argue that their platforms are important to how we view food and restaurants as a society. Especially with impressionable young minds using the internet, these food influencers are setting an example for the future of the food industry.
Thank you so much for reading this article! If you’d like to read more about trending food topics or find recipes, be sure to subscribe below.