We’ve been watching people cook on screen for a while now—according to Guinness World Records, Cookery, which aired on June 12, 1946 on BBC, was the first “TV cookery show.” From there we watched icons like Julia Child, Martin Yan, and our lord and savior Guy Fieri walk us through recipes and teach us how to cook. As different as those chefs are, there’s a tried-and-true formula to these kinds of shows, a combination of wide shots of the chef speaking directly through the camera to you and close-ups of spoons stirring, pans frying, and knives slicing. In the age of social media, things are different—and entire recipes must be conveyed in two minutes or less.
Without the injected flair of the chef’s personality, though, the popular “hands and pans” videos popularized by Tasty can start to meld together. A recipe for an apple pie looks the same as a recipe for enchiladas looks the same as a recipe for sushi, with a series of ingredients being piled on top of each other by a set of hands that could belong to anyone. So it’s a joy when someone comes in to disrupt the genre by injecting shock, flair, artistry, and plain old weirdness into these recipe videos. The TikTok page New World Cuisine (@userpppckpi0do) is doing just that.
The user behind New World Cuisine posted their first video just three weeks ago, but they’re already making a lasting impression on their 45,000 followers. Last week the account released a stop-motion video of an anthropomorphized chicken breast peeling a tomato and beheading shrimp only to eventually chop itself up and turn the whole bunch of ingredients into meatballs. Just watch.
The video, which has been viewed nearly 17 million times, was described by one Twitter user as the “creepiest cooking video I’ve ever seen.” But another person on Twitter said, “i think the little chicken cutlet is cute when he’s peeling the little tomato.” And some were even able to get past the “creep” factor to flawlessly execute the recipe. Regardless of where on the spectrum you land, it instantly strikes a chord and cannot be ignored.
In the last week, New World Cuisine has posted a new video on TikTok almost every day, experimenting with approaches in style. Next it was the tomato who stepped into the main character role, deboning the chicken. Then a recipe was animated with felt. Most recently, a recipe featured a delicate ballet of dough being rolled.
There are certainly things to criticize even if you, like me, are uncannily enamored by these short films. Raw chicken, for example, shouldn’t be touching any of your ingredients or your working surface for food safety reasons. I could absolutely do with fewer beheadings in these videos, too. But still, there’s something beautiful and still somehow educational about what we’re looking at.
These videos accomplish the same endgame as other ultra simplified recipe videos by showing how easy cooking with just a few ingredients can be. But by adding in elements of animation and sound design beyond a jangly, royalty-free tune, these simplistic recipes come alive. In a roundabout way, they harken back to the days of Julia Child, the sometimes messy but fully engaging and completely unique way she would make you stop and care about a recipe. We need to embrace these types of cooking videos and be reminded that food is art.