There’s no shortage of cooking videos on the internet: just by scrolling through TikTok, you can find recipes that range from inedible to downright confusing. Fortunately, though, there’s now a voice of humorous reason to help us make sense of it all: Tanara Mallory.
Via @tanaradoublechocolate, Mallory reacts to people’s outrageous cooking antics, each reaction beginning with her signature catchphrase, “Everyone is so creative!” As the recipe clip plays in the background, she sarcastically narrates the cooking step-by-step—and captures what we all think when we see things like this woman stirring noodle soup with her feet in the back of a truck or this guy making canned beans and hot dogs.
Mallory, 47, started posting videos on TikTok in 2019 when she was at home recovering from surgery and one of her daughters introduced her to the app. She started with dance lesson videos and in August 2022 posted her first green screen food duet video. Since then, she’s amassed 3.4 million followers, and some of them have started using the phrase “everyone’s so creative” in response to something strange (even unrelated to food) people make or post online.
Mallory attributes her success to being naturally funny; although some followers have suggested that she is a stand-up comedian, she has never been one or had any interest in becoming one. The Philadelphia native is a mother of three grown daughters, a beautician and a deli cook for 10 years. Now that her children are grown, she finds more time to do what she loves most. “It’s what I love to do,” Mallory says. “I do it all day anyway, 90 percent of it is me, the other 10 is a cameo character.” So you can get a little bit of that from me at my workplace; Just kidding as much as I do [in the videos].”
We talked to Mallory about the most embarrassing things she’s ever seen, how she comes up with her catchphrases, and the ins and outs of critiquing side-eye-inducing internet recipes.
Eater: How did the catchphrase “everyone’s so creative” come about?
Tanara Mallory: The phrase “everyone is so creative” popped up out of the blue one day while I was looking at the screen; that was the first thing I thought of when I saw the food coming in, what they were putting. I always show my husband my videos before I post them, and he said, “You should keep that line as your catchphrase.” It took off from there. It’s progressed very quickly so I’m still learning.
Do you think your experience as a production chef helped inform your commentary?
It definitely helped because some of the foods they use are more familiar to me, so I can critique them a little better even just by looking at them. In their comments many people say, “Well, I hear what you have to say, but can you cook? I’ve never seen you cook. And I’m like, ‘That’s not what I’m doing here, I’m bringing comedy.’
People come to me for work. They’re like, “Ah, now I see, you actually work with food!” And I’m like, “Yeah, but I didn’t come across that. Food is not my love. It wasn’t something I got into, Oh, I’d like to be a chef. Cosmetology was my first love and food became my job. Here’s what this is. Don’t get me wrong, I gave it my all. But I really didn’t want to make it a huge thing, I just want to be that funny character behind the camera that just gives you something to laugh at.
How do you find and choose the cooking videos you respond to?
Followers tag me, so all I have to do is go into my mentions and there’s a whole bunch of them. But I’m not going to do a duet with videos that people send me where I can honestly say it’s someone cooking dinner for their family.
The videos I make in duet are what I believe are clickbait videos that people make all the time when they waste food. It can be said that it is half cooked, that no one will eat it. These are the videos I will be commenting on. I’m not here to hurt anyone’s feelings. For example, there was one video where I actually reached out to them to see if it was okay because a gentleman is walking around recording his mom making meals and they don’t season half the time, but I think she’s being sincere about what he does. But he kind of said, “Come on, my mom loves your content and so do I.” So if I feel like someone’s actually making food and I don’t know if it’s something to make fun of, I’ll reach out and ask for permission .
How do you combine the reactions? And how long does it take you?
I don’t record anything. I get some points in my head and then just freestyle from there. And that’s partly because my memory isn’t good and I don’t know how to edit. So those two things combined, you get raw, freestyle comedy.
I might just see a video pop up and disappear Oh my god, this is crazy. And I’ll just set up my camera right then and I’ll watch the video a few times and within the next 10 minutes I’ll post the video. I don’t have drafts as many people keep drafts and then post certain times a day. I don’t because I’m afraid I’ll lose the video, so I post them as I make them, right away.
One of the things that stands out about your videos is that you don’t try to be mean.
I try to use sarcasm and get a laugh out of it, but I also say, Everyone has a different way of cooking. If that’s how you like to eat it, you can, but I wouldn’t eat it that way.
What’s the most embarrassing recipe you’ve ever seen?
I think what stands out the most is a pasta dish. She cooked penne in an aluminum pan, the pan still had its label on the inside, and she poured uncooked noodles into it. Then she took a bag full of peeled garlic, poured it straight into the pan, poured sauce over it, added cheese and put it in the oven. And I’m sitting here saying now there is no way! That’s why I say it’s clickbait; it was one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen, and she let her dog drink some of the water she used. It was a mess.
I feel like there are other phrases that came out of your freestyle, like, “It won’t slide down easily if it’s not kitschy!”
It just came out while I was watching them put loads and loads of cheese because I notice in almost every video they load everything with cheese. And then I went Oh, I liked the sound of itand I kept it.
And I kind of created a character to go with that: Kiki, who lives down the street, from whom they can borrow ingredients if they don’t have them in their own homes. Just ask her, she will give it to you. And I kind of do in every video. So now people turn to me and say Kiki told me I can’t come to her house anymore.
Did the videos you watched make you more or less pessimistic about people’s ability to cook?
I guess these people are just doing it for views. So I just look at it like they’re doing comedy just like me, only they’re wasting food while they’re doing it because I know there’s no way any of it is real. I’ve seen Skittles on top of raw ground beef with peanut butter on it, then they fried it together and it was still raw in the middle. So it doesn’t really change how I feel about other people who cook. What it does is it makes people not want to upload cooking videos by making people say they are afraid to upload their videos because they think I’m going to attack them.
Has a creator blocked you or gotten mad at you for commenting on their feed?
Surprisingly, not that I’ve noticed. I had a whole bunch of videos that were vegan [recipes], the creator turned to me and said, “How can I get you to take my videos and do what you’re doing with them?” And I said, “But you have legit good-looking food! Your food looks good.
But I haven’t had a single person tell me, “Stop commenting on my videos” or anything like that. And I think part of it is because when they release the video, you actually have the option of having someone do a duet or not. I won’t make a video if they cut their duets. Like some people download the video and keep doing it duet. If their duet is off, I won’t touch it because I know this guy doesn’t want to share. So after seeing him open for a duet, I guess the guy is fine with a comment.
What’s next for Everybody’s so creative videos?
I just quit part-time [as a production cook]and that’s to focus a little more on what I’d like to build: a bigger brand with this and hopefully get even bigger on YouTube, start making different videos, keeping the slogan “everyone so creative” and build the brand up.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Valeria Ricciuli is a Colombian journalist living in New York. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, Teen Vogue, Crain’s, and the Daily Beast.