TikTok is giving a billion dollars — yes, billion with a B — to its bigger creators over the next few years, including a popular Seattle social media chef. But the method for the payouts and even the amounts the recipients will receive is still shrouded in some secrecy, along with TikTok’s ability to operate in the United States and the nature of its ties to the Chinese government.
Here’s what we know for now: The TikTok Creator Fund will allow creators to apply for what are essentially grants to continue making short videos on the platform. Among the recipients of the first round of funding is Seattle chef Matt Broussard, whose YouTube, Instagram, and now TikTok content features unusual or high-end ingredients, dazzling knife skills, and a scruffy type-A persona.
“I’m gonna show you how to make guac the RIGHT way,” Matt barks in one of his recent videos. Okay, yes, please do!
Matt’s been working at restaurants around Seattle for about seven years, and making fun cooking videos in his spare time — at least, that was his life until quarantine hit, and now online content creation is his full time gig. On YouTube, he can go into detail with videos that are around ten minutes. But on TikTok, they’re under 30 seconds, just enough to convey the idea of the dish he’s preparing.
Matt’s recipes of choice tend to be complex restaurant meals, using ingredients that you might not have (or be able to afford) at home; one video shows him tending to a perfect cut of wagyu beef, and another involves liver mousse. (Others are more accessible, like cocktail sauce made with Fanta.) And nearly every video involves the flashy glint of a knife blade.
“A lot of people want to see me cut things for some reason,” Matt says. Boisterous in his videos, he’s far more taciturn and gruff in person. “People like flaky salt on there. In restaurants we finish pretty much everything with flaky salt. I have flaky salt merch.”
As for TikTok’s gift, he’s unsure what to expect. “I don’t know what it entails,” he says. “I don’t know if I can buy a burger or a used Honda.”
If it’s more on the “used Honda” end of the spectrum, he’s putting together plans to create a kitchen studio where he’ll have dedicated space to make high-quality videos, and possibly offer hands-on classes when the day comes that anything can be hands-on around other humans. While some of his creations are small-scale, like a jelly sandwich crusted with fried cereal bits, he also has dreams of stuff that requires a bit more space, like cooking a whole pig by burying it in a fire pit, Kālua-style.
Jumping into video a few years ago means that Matt’s uniquely positioned among local chefs to transition into whatever the future holds.
“Right now is a weird time,” he says. “So many chefs and cooks are out of jobs and they’re breaking into the scene. And I’ve been in the scene for seven years creating content. So I feel like a fish in water.”