Image: TikTok/Archi Banal
Image: TikTok/Archi Banal

KaiJune 6, 2023

How fudgeywudgeychef mastered the art of chaotic TikTok cooking content

Image: TikTok/Archi Banal
Image: TikTok/Archi Banal

Step aside perfect-looking food content, there’s a new chef in town. Charlotte Muru-Lanning meets fudgeywudgeychef, the Auckland TikTok creator bringing an eccentric edge to cooking videos.

This is an excerpt from our weekly food newsletter, The Boil Up.

Whenever social media purports to shed its softly-lit, idealised vision of what food, eating and cooking should look like and embrace something a little more realistic, I tend to get a bit cynical. Every time we’re told that perfect is out and laissez-faire is in, the food always seems to remain self-consciously rustic, with intentionally messy flourishes and faux-casual scatters of dill and Italian parsley. Try as we might to peel away the facade of fancied-up food, the algorithm usually has other ideas.

But local TikToker fudgeywudgeychef is none of that, instead taking a more oddball slant to what food looks like in 2023 – think goblin mode meets cooking content – and it’s taking off online. Fudgeywudgeychef’s recipe videos are replete with plentiful frozen veges, discount bagged spinach, post-onion-cutting runny noses, borderline-looking produce and mistakes that still, importantly, get eaten. The cinematography is jarring too, with unholy soundscapes made up of blaring sound effects and startling jolts of anything from drum and bass to Adele.

I spoke to the 21-year-old Auckland-based creator behind the perfectly chaotic videos about the beauty of being a little bit feral with food.

CML: How did all this start?

FWC: I used to edit videos for my friends on a private Instagram. Then I started doing it on TikTok and one of the videos just blew up. I remember feeling like it was a bit weird because everyones watching you, commenting on you. Now, when things get more views, I’ve learnt to embrace it. People think my lifestyle’s a bit strange. I find that kind of funny, because I suppose it is, but it works for me. When I go to work and talk to my coworkers, I realise that I definitely do things that they wouldn’t do.

Screenshots from TikTok show Fudgeywudgeychef eating dumplings with a sparkly effect added to the video. The other screenshot shows Fudgeywudgeychef standing behind a lineup of Earl grey tea bags, soy sauce, salt and pepper and nutritional yeast on the kitchen floor as she lobs an onion at them.
Fudgeywudgeychef at the dining table and in the kitchen.

What determines the kinds of food you end up making in your videos?

It’s really just whatever’s in the pantry. I can’t be bothered going and getting more food, it’s too expensive. Sometimes they don’t taste the best but I’ll eat it, I’m not gonna waste it. Because I live by myself now, I don’t have to cater to anyone, I can just eat whatever I want – no matter how shit it is, I still eat it and it’s fine.

What’s your relationship with cooking like?

I’ve always loved cooking because my mum is a terrible cook. Like absolutely awful. She knows that as well – we always joke about it. She would buy microwave pizzas, put Chesdale cheese slices on top, then she’d put them in the oven and the plastic cheese on top would burn. So it’d be this chargrilled, fucked-up-looking mess. I remember eating it with my sister one day and I looked at her and I was like “this tastes like a sneaker, like if a sneaker just came fresh out of the box, like plastic and chemicals”. We ate it though.

Your videos have a pretty avant-garde style, do you have background in editing or sound?

I’ve got no official background but I’ve always enjoyed editing little things. I feel like I have a good sense of that stuff. For me, the more noise the better. I don’t like things to be calm and quiet. I like things to be blaring – the louder it is, the funnier it is. My style of editing or filming is that I want it to be the worst thing ever for someone to watch. I want them to think this is awful.

Is there anything specific that’s inspired your videos?

Leigh Hart’s Speed Cooking from Late Night Big Breakfast. I suppose I took a little bit of inspiration from that because it’s so chaotic and it’s really fast and loud – he pulls out a chainsaw in one of them. There’s just so much going on.

Two screenshots from Fudgeywudgeychef's Tiktok videos. The first shows Fudgeywudgeychef in the kitchen throwing a piece of carrot into a pot, the second image shows a pan filled with chickpeas, onions and a box of dried chives, yes, the actual box.
Fudgeywudgeychef throws a chunk of carrot into the pot, and a view of a meal in the making.

Your videos feel so different to the flawless images of food, cooking and eating most of us are more used to on social media – is that on purpose?

Yeah it’s definitely oppositional. Sometimes I’ll try to point out the worst things I do. On social media everything’s always perfect, but things are more fun when everything is strange. Because everyone is a bit strange, it’s just people don’t really show it on their social media. I make these videos because food doesn’t need to be perfect, you don’t need to go out and buy a bunch of specific ingredients – it can just be slop.

Are there any ingredients that you always have on hand?

Rice, frozen vegetables and bread.

Do you have a favourite frozen vegetable?

I love them all but probably peas and corn. If I have peas and corn on hand, I’ll put them in absolutely everything.

Has the rising cost of food impacted what you’re cooking and eating?

Definitely. Way less fresh ingredients. Anything that’s on special I’ll get and I’ll stock up on that one thing and try to think of a bunch of things I can make with it. So this week I got a $3 bag of apples and I was like, “I should just stew them and then have stewed apples on toast with peanut butter or something like that”. Just to spread everything as far as I possibly can.

Are you quite careful about food waste?

I’m really conscious of that. I don’t like wasting food at all. I will use my leftovers in a meal the next day. Everything costs a lot so I want to make sure I’m getting absolutely everything out of it. I don’t like creating waste for environmental reasons as well.

Has making these videos sparked any ideas about where you might go in the future?

I’d really like to start streaming video games and I’d like to start editing things that are a bit longer, maybe on YouTube or even making content with other people. Maybe getting a job within the video editing industry. I really love making videos and using sound, so just anything to do with that’d be my dream. Other than that, I really want to be a cyborg – that’s the end goal.

Keep going!