Detroit chef Jonathan Kung goes viral with TikTok cooking series
In order to get an impression of the Asian-influenced culinary creations of Chef Jonathan Kung before the pandemic, you had to secure a place at one of his private dinners or dumpling classes.
The events took place at Kung’s Kung Food Market Studio in Detroit’s Eastern Market.
After the pandemic broke out and more people started cooking at home, Kung gained a new following, if not in person. The self-taught chef went to TikTok with 60-second cooking demos that went viral and garnered more than 900,000 followers and 11 million likes on his videos. On TikTok, Kung calls himself a “third culture chef”.
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Now he’s partnered with Funimation, an anime distribution company, to combine cooking classes with videos and films.
The second series of several cooking demos is based on the release of the anime film “Demon Slayer”. The new series will be published on Kung’s TikTok account on Friday. The first series “Naruto’s Ramen Chowdown!” ran in March.
Kung creates dishes based on anime character profiles in a how-to approach with easy-to-follow steps.
“The response has been very good,” said Kung. “With around 2 million on Instagram, it was pretty successful. The rapprochement was an affirmation of what I was doing in the city. The responses we’ve received that something is from Detroit have this mass appeal. “
Kung started the cooking videos last May to inspire residents to cook. Since then, TikTok has gained more than 900,000 followers and 11 million likes. You can also find many of these 60-second recipes on Kung’s YouTube channel.
“It’s what inspires me right now. It’s like having a serotonin hit or having two songs that you like together,” he said. “It’s not something you totally expected, but you’re glad it worked.”
Much of his recipe inspiration comes from being reactionary and spontaneously inventing things.
“As a person trying to add mood or narrative to the film, I try to encourage people to creatively cook for themselves.”
Being reactionary comes with the help of a fully stocked pantry and kitchen.
“Cook creatively, take risks,” said Kung. “If you make a mistake while eating … if you try something and you like it, you can fall in love with the rest of your life.”
One of kung’s most popular videos, he said, is for a Chinese potato dish. The video has more than 4 million views. Another is a dish of spicy Szechuan feta noodles that has over a million views.
“It (the Tiktok videos) was giving people something fun that they didn’t originally expect,” he said. “Fortunately, they did well on the Funimation side too.”
Kung grew up in Hong Kong and Toronto, but spent most of his time in Detroit. He’s worked for several chefs around town and done pop-ups. Kung said he has plans to open his own restaurant at some point.
Contact Detroit Free Press food writer Susan Selasky for food and dining news at: 313-222-6872 or [email protected] Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitter.
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