In the past year, the short video social media platform Douyin, more commonly known as TikTok internationally, has seen a huge influx of food-related content. These videos include step-by-step instructional culinary tutorials, 'mukbangs', where hosts eat food while interacting with their viewers, as well as food related skits. The foodies behind the cameras are usually not celebrity chefs, but are online food influencers or K.O.Ls (key opinion leaders) whose videos can garner millions of views.
We've rounded up the top 10 chart-topping food influencers who have amassed the most followers on Douyin and reveal what makes their videos such a huge hit. (As of Dec. 24, 2019)
10. Cooking with Pi Pi
Cooking with Pi Pi posts fun and easy-to-follow cuisine-centric instructional videos. The fun parts mainly lie in the dialect he uses when he is giving instructions. Many of his followers also try to imitate his accented mandarin in their comments.
Similar to some food influencers who make money by featuring certain sponsor's products, Cook Pi Pi incorporates cookware products into his videos. While watching his cooking tutorial, viewers can also click links on his page to buy the featured cookware.
9. Xiang Xiang fighting with meals
As a kind of mukbang online personality, Xiang Xiang shows himself trying out different kinds of cuisines in a comedic and captivating way, entertaining his 13 million followers and providing them with a secondhand satisfaction of eating.
Some of his popular videos include eating a 3,500 RMB king crab, trying the world's three most expensive foods, i.e. foie gras, truffle, and caviar, as well as tasting the world's spiciest dish - the Malaysian Ghost Pepper Spicy Chicken. Each of these videos have racked up millions of views and Xiang Xiang often describes in detail what the food he eats tastes like. His hilarious way of speaking and well edited clips make his mukbangs very enjoyable to watch.
8. Pretty girl Xiaohui
Featuring smooth camera movements, saturated colors, atmospheric background music, a sentimental voiceover script, Pretty girl Xiaohui's videos feel like cinematic videos similar in style to Hong Kong director Wong kar-wai's films. In the clip that made her famous on Douyin, set against the soundtrack of the film 'In the Mood for Love', Miss Xiaohui gracefully raises her knife and fork, seemingly enjoying a sumptuous feast, but later reveals that she is actually eating instant noodles with a sausage. This video amassed nearly 3 million likes with the top one commenting that "the 3 RMB instant noodles seems to be worth 30,000 RMB in her mouth".
In her Douyin food skits, her flamboyant antics of pretending to eat gourmet dishes and the actual food form a sharp contrast, creating a hilarious effect. Her deadpan humor, unique dialect, mockery of posh people who like show-off, and narcissistic attitude towards her charm, have all made her an online sensation.
7. Simple meal
Videos on this account offers straightforward step-by-step instructions on how to cook both simple and delicious dishes. Over 1000 videos include cooking tutorials ranging from traditional homemade Chinese dishes such as braised ribs with potatoes, luxurious desserts such as Japanese Daifuku mochi, street food like baked cold noodles to different kinds of DIY sauce.
It also provides recipe collections, such as its Chinese New Year's Eve reunion dinner spread, which amassed a gobsmacking 70.4 million views.
6. Recipe for home-made dishes
Without fancy editing or chefs appearing in front of the camera, this Douyin account is dedicated to posting standard cooking tutorials. The foodie behind the camera is brilliant at using background music and plating the meal in a way that looks enticing and tantalizing.
These 30-second simple and practical videos are popular resources for viewers to get new ideas and learn how to cook a great meal. The account is a must-follow for those who truly want to sharpen their cooking skills.
5. Poorman's Meal
Wearing a black crosstalk gown and sunglasses, this 23-year-old humorous and chubby foodie influencer often recites his motto - 'poverty is only temporary, remember to eat on time' - in his popular videos while waving a paper fan. His Douyin account mainly includes two series of cooking tutorials, poorman's meat dishes and poorman's vegetable dishes, offering recipes to his 19 million followers.
In his videos, he often starts with a comedic skit where he haggles down the prices of the ingredients at a local grocery store, followed by him cooking while performing crosstalk or giving sketch-style instructions. He usually concludes his videos by describing the scrumptious meals he prepares through a rap. Hailed by his loyal fans as "the best foodie who is good at rapping", he has made his name through clear, affordable and easy-to-make recipes as well as witty and catchy instructions.
4. Ms Yeah
Ms Yeah is well known for her unconventional videos where she uses contraptions made from available office equipment to cook elaborate meals in the office.
Armed with her creative ideas of making food and an iPhone, Yeah produced her first office food video where she cooked thinly sliced beef with an electric iron at her desk. This video made her an instant internet sensation. Some of her popular clips that went viral include turning her office water dispenser into a hot pot and frying crepes on her computer case.
Viewers feel like they are going on a culinary adventure when watching her videos. Yeah says her videos are not meant to be instructional, but aim to show people a more positive side to life - you can find the joy of food whenever and wherever you are.
3. Li Ziqi
Li Ziqi is a successful food vlogger and influencer, or broadly speaking, a lifestyle K.O.L, known for her food and handicraft tutorial videos. Now she is also a powerful force on social media platforms, where she boasts an impressive 31.9 million followers on Douyin, 21.5 million followers on Sina Weibo and 7.6 million subscribers worldwide on YouTube.
Li started filming her life in her hometown, a rural area in southwestern China's Sichuan province in 2016 and began to build her illustrious social presence based around her ancient traditional Chinese lifestyle. Her food videos show how she prepares elaborate meals from scratch for her grandmother using garden-fresh ingredients as well as traditional techniques, such as raising baby ducklings to make salted duck egg yolk sauce (Chinese Mayonnaise), or picking pomelos from trees to make honey pomelo tea.
The picturesque scenery in the rural mountain region, the organic food she features, and the romantic lifestyle all make the videos of this "oriental lifestyle foodie" a huge hit.
2. Big Eater Lang Wei Xian
Li Zehang, who goes by the name Lang Wei Xian on Douyin, is an online celebrity best known to his 33 million followers as the one with 'the big appetite'. On his Douyin channel, popular videos include him eating a massive amount of food - as many as 200 dumplings, 300 crawfish, 3.5 kilograms of sliced beef, thousands of Chuan-chuan (barbecued skewers from Sichuan province), a full table of meat in spicy Chongqing hot pot - all in one sitting. He once chomped down 10 packs of instant noodles in under nine minutes, a 1.25L cola in 10 seconds and even 9 steamed dumplings in one bite.
The 29-year-old discovered his seemingly bottomless stomach when he was a child. Last year, he won a competitive eating contest and was discovered by a media company. Since then, he has begun his career as a mukbanger and gained fame on Douyin.
1. Spicy Dezi
Spicy Dezi rose to fame on Douyin with cooking tutorials of home-made Chinese dishes such as fried pork in scoop, Cola chicken wings and Chinese toffee banana. In just the first week of 2019, he attracted nearly 3.6 million followers and some of his videos amassed over 3 million views.
Without fancy settings or exquisite displays, his short videos stand out with his unique folksy style and humble demeanor. Typical scenes in his tutorials include him briefing viewers on the dishes while using a rag to clean kitchen benches and him bowing with his palms pressed together to thank his audience. From the comments he receives, it's clear that his followers like his easy-to-follow recipes and sincere attitude.