How Dallas Chefs Harnessed the Power of TikTok

When 2020 seemed too much to me – at various times this year – I returned to a TikTok video at the end of April. That is, before we knew where things were going, before we knew how much we would need a deep source of joy, resilience, and ease this year.

The chefs Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman, Janice Provost, Tida Pichakron, Jeana Johnson, Sandy Bussey, Sarah Green, Danyele McPherson and Uno Immanivong knew, apparently supernaturally, how to cheer us. They made the video that starts with Quiñones-Pittman tossing a box of salt in a zebra print to Immanivong and ends with Provost throwing a confetti outburst, like a statement that says, “We did it. We made it. I guess I just can’t. But I can just do it. “

In her own words, this is a little bit about how it came about and what it meant to her. Think of it as a light-hearted pre-vacation viewer. Let us cheerfully usher in the end of this turbulent year, which was particularly turbulent in the culinary community. Perhaps pour yourself a glass of wine or a flute of bubbles. We are nearly there. Without further ado: have fun.

“I am best friends with Janice [Provost]Jean [Johnson]and Tida [Pichakron]”Says Quiñones-Pittman. You are part of a crew of women who know each other from Meat Fight and other events – events that have actually been postponed, as events from Les Dames d’Escoffier Klatches to Meat Fight fundraisers at the Dallas Arboretum Food and wine festivals have been canceled.

“And at the beginning of the pandemic, we were in a text thread [called Ladies of Meat Fight]. We were always very close, but we kept communicating with each other about what was going on. And it was really different for all of us restaurateurs. I’ll close and do Feed the Frontlines; and Janice only did takeout, which catering was a big part of their business; and Jeana leaves the hotel [Canvas, where Johnson was furloughed as executive chef];; and Tida closes her shop [Haute Sweets Patisserie],” She says.

“We kept up to date, but it was a lot of negativity that we kept giving each other just because we wanted to play it on top of each other and take it in and let it go so that we didn’t get the projected negativity towards our family or employees or What ever. So we’d bear the brunt of it. And I just thought: ‘You know …’ “

The backstory on how Quiñones-Pittman became the unofficial Tik Tok queen of the group: “It wasn’t until my sister, who is so young in spirit but in her fifties, brought it to my attention, when she came and came last Christmas visited, ”she says. The chef started making lighthearted videos without seriously considering his ability to unite.

COVID-19 changed everything. Triggered by a riff on a makeup brush challenge – “Someone would throw a brush, someone would catch it. And they would show themselves in quarantine clothes and then put on makeup and be pretty and pretty, “says Quiñones-Pittman – the idea for the video was born.

“People only see us in our cooking coats. They just see us working hard, greasy hair, no makeup, ”says Quiñones-Pittman. “What if we could show people what we really look like, even in quarantine? [It’s] A good excuse for us to get dressed and feel like we’re going somewhere. “

The video gave them the opportunity to communicate virtually against the backdrop of Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down,” which appears absolutely instantaneous and looks like a Cri de Coeur battle cry of the times (“You must to calm down. Just stop ”). But the short clip was also a way to keep it real this year, where everyone was more honest and everything felt so real that it changed our private lives in the most intimate ways.

“We didn’t want to go back and forth much. We knew everyone was very busy. So we let Jeana decide for everyone [what would be thrown]”Says Quiñones-Pittman.” Jeana was really instrumental in making sure everyone knew to grab the whisk from the left and throw it to the right, or whatever. “

Edited by Jeana Johnson’s partner and contracted in four or five days, it went viral (ish). It was posted to Instagram on April 23rd and received 1,069 views on Quiñones-Pittman’s account alone. And from hundreds to 3,000 to others.

It was cathartic. You heard from friends and customers at a time when everyone was shaken by the shelter-in-place order.

“It was just emotional. I’ve got emails, messages, and texts everywhere from people saying how cool it is to see each other positively and energetically in everything, ”Quiñones-Pittman says. “I think we saw it for a week. We were really excited about it. “

Yes, we could think about social media and how it proved to be a driving force in this crisis. The way it makes us feel less alone. But maybe we don’t even need that.

“From the video we could say, ‘Okay, everything will be fine. We’ll get through this, ”says McPherson. Provost says the goal, if there was one, was “to bring a little smile. I’m glad it did. It’s kind of a mission: accomplished. “

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