Photographs courtesy of Tiktok.
Meet the Mukbang enthusiast, the head of the high school and seven other personalities to know.
CK and Diana Nguyen | @hypefoodies
This Springfield couple has been posting vlogging-style TikTok videos since 2019, giving suburban eateries a boost under the radar on the platform. Short clips shot with an iPhone showcase places like an Indian restaurant tucked away in a Vienna gas station or a dim sum spot at a shopping mall in Rockville. In addition to showing the food, the behavior analyst (Diana) and videographer (CK) try to provide information about the dishes they sample. “For my voiceovers, one of my biggest inspirations is Anthony Bourdain,” says CK. “I try to be informative and respect the culture of the food.”
Milan Bhayana | @lilchefmil
The sophomore year of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School started on TikTok last November when her sister Malaika posted a video of her Beef Wellington, asking for a reaction from Gordon Ramsay. Although the celebrity chef never responded, thousands of viewers did, launching Milan’s career as a culinary designer. (It now has over 700,000 subscribers.) Malaika recounts videos showing the 16-year-old’s chef process of whipping marshmallows from scratch and wielding a blowtorch to char Alaska. Now he and his mom Chandrani Ghosh are part of this season’s cast Grand chef family style.
Caroline Ponseti | @thethriftyspoon
Highlighting catering offerings has been Ponseti’s trademark on Instagram since 2017, but the Dupont Circle communications strategist began migrating her budget recommendations to TikTok in February. She scours restaurant menus for advice (the Wharf Fish Market has affordable oysters) and tips (choose a wine decanter instead of a bottle at the Diplomate). Naturally, happy hours are staple content, with videos touting drink specials when you just need a cocktail on a Monday. . . or at sunset. . . or with food. . . or all night. . . .
The comforting mom
Angela Payton | @tantiebstay
She’s known as “Everyone’s Favorite Aunt” on TikTok, but it was Payton’s teenage daughter who actually put her on the app in June 2020: “Daughter Said,” Mum , you cook and you are funny, TikTok is the new wave. “In fact, each video begins with jokes between the Southeast DC resident and her children. Payton’s content focuses on comfort food recipes like his grandmother’s peach egg rolls and his grandmother’s mac and cheese, using ingredients accessible at any grocery store. In September, the Behavioral Technician went on TV, teaching Jerry Springer how to make peanut butter ice cream.
Alex Schröder | @alexeating
Curious about whether his experience as a Yelp reviewer would translate into video, the real estate marketer took to TikTok last fall to document his positive experiences in restaurants. He jogs around the city to discover new places, covering topics such as date ideas and al fresco dining. The most rewarding part? When companies thank him for attracting new customers. Schroeder is also a founding member of DMV Besties, a Washington-focused TikTokers collective that hosts IRL meetups to explore the city.
Gabby Eniclerico | @ slothgirl420
The specialty of the 26-year-old is mukbangs, a kind of internet video in which viewers tune in to watch a creator eat (heartily and loudly) in front of the camera. Eniclerico’s version often spotlights local restaurants – sipping Bantam King ramen or dipping into Little Sesame’s hummus bowls – while chatting to the camera like she’s eating with a friend. The bubbly brand of legal assistant (and over 919,000 subscribers) has captured the attention of advertisers, garnering sponsorships from Thrive Market and Chipotle. But Eniclerico says it is How? ‘Or’ What she eats that conquered the fans: “I don’t chew a lot. When I eat I get so excited. I think that’s kind of why I started going viral – people were just confused by my eating style. “
Jérémy Scheck | @scheckeats
The very popular Scheck learned to cook by watching YouTube videos. Now the 21-year-old Bethesda native is the one on camera, teaching more than 2.1 million followers how to roll pasta and roast a whole chicken. The student turned to TikTok at the start of the pandemic, playing the role of a sympathetic host while delivering his classes on fried rice and pie crust. “I don’t want this to be just food pornography,” Scheck told us last year. “I want it to be ‘Why are we doing it this way?’ I like to understand science.
The food fanatic
Joël Haas | @ dinner at high speed
If you can’t make reservations at DC’s Michelin-starred restaurants, head to the Haas chain, where it invites the masses to the city’s most exclusive dining rooms. The former radio DJ and comedy producer dons a lapel microphone to record voiceovers at each location with a Michelin star, speaking to viewers through tasting menus. (He shoots 60 to 90 minutes of video per meal.) “I’m first and foremost an artist and an artist,” says Haas. “The restaurant is my stage, the food is my prop.” He found that the more extravagant the dish – charred tuna on a tabletop grill in Del Mar, nitrogen floating on dessert in El Cielo – the greater the social buzz.
This article appears in the November 2021 issue of Washingtonian.