Selena + Chef is Embracing the Struggle and Joy of Learning How to Cook

Selena Gomez is putting a new spin on how viewers will follow along by accommodating various cuisines from Korean breakfast tacos, matcha chocolate chip cookies, dog glaze biscuit treats, and everything in-between with her unscripted HBO Max series, Selena + Chef. During quarantine Gomez, decided to improve her cooking skills, and what better way to do it is to have expert chefs remotely guiding her step by step on their signature dishes. In her intro, Gomez states that she loves eating but claims that she is not very good at cooking, but that doesn’t stop her eagerness to learn the recipes and the chef’s terminology.

The show captures vulnerable moments between Gomez and the chefs in sharing personal stories in reasoning why they fell in love with their passions. At the end of the episodes, Gomez donates $10,000 to each food-related charities that the chefs highlights. In addition, the series captures her mishaps that include oven fires or burning her matcha chocolate chip cookies, because she didn’t realize that her oven has a convection switch that prevents that from happening. Gomez made it clear that she is making a fool of herself on the show, but she hopes those moments will bring some sort of happiness to the viewers during this unpredictable time.

“The goal for the viewer is to have fun with her and go on that journey with her, either vicariously or in trying to make those meals yourself, you can absolutely do that. Or if you just want to watch a fun cooking show with Selena Gomez, I think it works in that regard as well.” said, an executive producer, Aaron Saidman in a recent interview.

There are 10 episodes, filled with delicious recipes viewers can make at home. In episode four, Chef, Roy Choi teaches Gomez how to cook Korean BBQ Short Rib Breakfast Tacos. The marinate ingredients intimidated Gomez at first but Choi reassures her that all the ingredients will go into the blender and after that, the preparation will be easy to follow. The white flour tortilla taco is filled with slices of short ribs, eggs, tater tots, onions, chili, and cilantro. The food truck style dish is served with a side of tater tots that Gomez, her roommates, and grandparents raved about.

In episode 3, Chef Candice Kumai is showing Gomez how to bake matcha chocolate chip cookies. Matcha is a Japanese powdered green tea leaf that is mixed into a gluten-free cookie batter that makes it more flavorful. Just like regular cookie batter, matcha cookies are prepared with its ingredients the same way. These delicious cookies are a healthier version that will satisfy your sweet cravings.

Viewers will see a genuine side of Gomez with her vibrant and humbleness personality that makes her relatable to watch. Her casual cook along with top-tier chefs is an informative cooking show that embraces both the struggle and joy of learning how to cook.

Albums to Listen to This Fall

With the season of 100+ degree temperatures, popsicles, and funky summertime beats coming to an end, it’s time to enter the realm of autumn leaves, scary movies, and most importantly — building a fall playlist. Many artists love to release music towards the end of summer as seasons change, and we’re definitely not mad about it! Social distancing has left such a huge hole in everyone’s social life, it’s nice to have some good tunes. Whether you’re working from home, headed back to school, or just looking for some new playlists — here are some albums to listen to this fall.

1.   Drake — Certified Lover Boy— TBA

Drake is to release his next full length studio album sometime this fall on the heels of Scorpion.  The popular 2018 release swept the nation with hit singles “God’s Plan”, “Nice For What” and the TikTok famous “In My Feelings”— that had every Keke on the planet begging for people to stop. Champagne Papi has been secretive in regards to the exact release date, but if his latest collab with Lil Durk is any indication, expect some slower tempo beats, a little bit of synth and his trademark catchiness. If you need something to tide you over till then, check out Drake’s “Dark Lane Demo Tapes” on Spotify, a mixtape of leaked songs and SoundCloud demos which is said to be his “warm up’ for this upcoming release. Find Drake and his record label here.

2.   The Killers —Imploding The Mirage— Aug. 21, 2020

After a three-year hiatus where we couldn’t find the brightside (pun intended), The Killers have returned with 10 tracks of pure synth rock and concert ready tunes that’ll have you wishing it were fall 2019. “Caution” is a beautiful mix of drums and punchy lyrics from Brandon Flowers that’ll have you screaming to the lyrics — coming of age movie style. As a matter of fact, the whole release is pretty much akin to something you’d listen to on the way to a new job, a new town or running around with your college friends pre global crisis. “When The Dreams Run Dry” is a beautiful transition from down tempo warbling from “Flowers”, paired with groovy synth and beats, gradually building, then fades out into a buzzing echo, leaving you breathless. It’s a must listen. Find The Killers here.

3.   BTS — TBA — TBA

It’s been a long year for the seven Bangtan Boys. After their world tour for their album “Map of The Soul: 7” was postponed in the spring due to COVID with no clear return date in sight,  both the boys and fans were left reeling and disappointed. The septet released their follow up Japanese album, “Map of The Soul 7: The Journey”, to widespread praise— especially regarding the single “Your Eyes Tell” to be featured in a Japanese drama of the same name. It gets better: on August 21st, BTS released the lead single for their latest studio album to be released in October, a fully English track that broke the record for most viewed YouTube video in 24 hours. It’s called “Dynamite”, it’s as funky as the name suggests, and if we can learn anything about the album from listening, we can expect explosive synth pop, silky production, and the gut punching lyrics BTS has crafted into a perfectly wrapped package release after release. Find BTS here.

4.   Troye Sivan— In A Dream—August 21

Concept albums and Troye Sivan are the music equivalent of pancakes and syrup— they just work so well together and you’re left satisfied. “Blue Neighborhood” in 2015 was met with massive critical and audience praise, especially for the music videos exploring the coming of age of LGBTQ+ teens in a unaccepting space. In this release, another product of the pandemic on this list, Troye explores themes many can relate to during this time: heartbreak, the loss of comfort, and how self-image can bring us down. My favorite is the opening track, “Take Yourself Home”, a song split into two contrasting tempos in each half of the song. It’s almost a love letter to the feelings brought on by COVID-19: “Sad in the summer, city needs a mother, If I’m gonna waste my time, then it’s time to go.” It’s a short EP, with only six songs, but by the last crooning note of “IN A DREAM”, you’ll be wishing it were longer. Find Troye here.

5.   Tame Impala— The Slow Rush— February 14, 2020

We’re throwing it back to pre-pandemic, where Valentine’s Day was more of a promise than a theory and the world was broken but a lot less. Kevin Parker of Tame Impala gives us 12 songs of purely poetic and relatable lyrics that feel like jumping off a cliff into cold water, while simultaneously sinking into a warm bath. The album is refreshing, it’s spunky, reminding us to “Breathe Deeper” and that “The Hardest Part Is Over.”  Admittedly, there’s no way to know that for sure,. Parker acknowledges it sarcastically, that despite progress, there’s a “Wall To Bring Us Closer.” It’s almost like he was fortune telling back in February. Regardless, “The Slow Rush” is just that — a slow rush of emotion and beautiful music. Find Tame Impala here

Our Trader Joe’s Must Haves in 2020

Now, we all know and love Trader Joe’s for all its tasty and unique products. Personally, whenever I go to TJ’s, I like to make it an entire affair – I get dressed up just to walk down the aisles and post an Instagram story of me and my grocery cart. But for someone who can wander around TJ for hours – literally hours, once I got ice cream and it was melted by the time I got to the cashier – it is vital to go in there with a game plan for what items are absolute essentials to walk out with. That is why I have compiled for you the top Trader Joe must haves in no particular order, ranging from the ultimate frozen comfort food to rewarding your sweet tooth with the perfect dessert.

Fig Butter

This decadent fig spread from TJ’s needs to become a charcuterie board classic. Made from several different types of figs, this Fig Butter is the perfect addition to any sweet or savory combos. Personally, I like to add it on my breakfast bagel with some cream cheese. Add it as an option during wine night with the girls, or just eat it straight from the jar. Either way, it adds a sense of class and excitement to any meal.

Almond Blueberry Lavender Milk

This vegan beverage is a necessity for anyone looking to change their routine. The combination of blueberries with lavender add a subtle touch of sweetness that plays off perfectly with the natural nuttiness of almond milk. If you want to change up your daily iced latte, or morning smoothie, try this milk for an extra creamy delight.

Parmesan Pastry Puffs

Get ready for the crème de la crème version of pigs in a blanket you have ever had. These flakey, croissant like pastry is the perfect ratio of soft to crispy, and are so easy to make. Just pop them from the freezer to the microwave. Once you start eating these, you won’t be able to stop.

Plantain Chips

Straight from Peru, these Plantain Chips are ideal when you are not craving potato chips but need to curb your salty needs. I love to have these chips with a dip, or as a conversation starter. Bring these to your next socially distanced picnic with friends and give yourself the reputation of being that person who brings the supreme snacks.

Creamy Salty Cashew Butter

Almond butter, meet your match. While cashew may not seem like the obvious choice for butter, this TJ specialty hits the sweet spot between creamy and salty and is oh-so-good. I like to freeze a couple of banana popsicles overnight and dip them into the cashew butter, or as a addition to my morning oats and smoothie bowls.

Peanut Butter Blondies

Peanut butter and jelly together just make sense, so of course TJ’s had to create their own version in the best way. Triple-layered with a peanut butter blondie base and strawberry filling, this dessert will bring a new meaning to “sweet tooth”. When I first had these, I legitimately had about 5 of them at once – they are that good. You have been warned.

Vegan Kale, Cashew, And Basil Pesto

If you ever want to be in Italy from your very own home, buy this. The combination of cashew butter with the kale and basil adds an overall depth to the traditional pesto experience. Use this as a spread for homemade pizza, inside a sandwich, or simply as a dip. This TJ’s item is nothing short of impeccable

Instant Ramen Soup

Late night with no desire to cook? Throw back to being a broke college student? This TJ’s selection will elevate any experience you have ever had with instant ramen. Offered with miso or chicken, these noodles in a cup give the feeling of ramen from a restaurant without the hassle of going anywhere.

Crispy Crunchy Mochi Rice Nuggets

If the drummers on the front of the bag isn’t enough for you to pick up this TJ’s snack as your new favorite guilty pleasure, let the taste of the nuggets speak for themselves. The delightfully unexpected crunch from the rice with a slight hint of chewy from the mochi leads to a heavenly combo. Plus, these small squares make them the perfect size for hiding some in your pocket. You know, just in case.

Everything but the Bagel Seasoning

You know her, you love her, and this wouldn’t be a TJ’s must have article without her. Trader Joe’s EBTB seasoning is the perfect topping on your breakfast avocado toast, lunch salad, or dinner noodles. If you don’t have the EBTB already, run, don’t walk, to your nearest TJ’s.

The Best 2000s Reality Shows on Amazon Prime

If you’re like us and you’re mourning the loss of this year’s season of The Amazing Race or the will-they, won’t-they fate of Big Brother’s 22nd season, let Amazon Prime take you down memory lane with their brand new selection of 2000s reality TV. Here are the top five shows you should definitely be rewatching this summer.

America’s Next Top Model

Recently, seasons 1-14 of America’s Next Top Model were put for free on Amazon Prime. In these fourteen seasons, you’re bound to get your fair share of insane photoshoots, ridiculous catwalks, and entirely dramatic moments from the one and only Tyra Banks, a personal favorite being her fake fainting moment in Cycle 6, Episode 6. Tempted to cut more quarantine bangs or bleach your entire head? Just throw on any makeover episode of ANTM for inspiration, even if the styles are super 2005. Overall, it’s a super fun and easy watch, and with fourteen seasons available, why not give at least one a try?

The Simple Life

If you don’t think The Simple Life is comedy gold, I don’t know what to tell you other than the fact that you’re simply wrong. Everything about Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton living with a rural family from Arkansas in Season One is amazing. From their single day as dairy farmworkers to their misadventures in piemaking, every 20-minute episode packs in hilarious moments after hilarious moments. It feels more like a situational comedy with two amateur comedians who also happen to be filthy rich than a reality show testing their willpower in the country. I left this season with only one question: did Chops ever make it to L.A. to become the male model Paris destined him to be?

Survivor

Survivor is the quintessential reality competition show. Do you want backstabbing, strategizing, and gameplay? Survivor’s got it. Do you want romance, fun friendships, and intense fights? Survivor’s got it. Do you want to see people’s mental and physical strength get tested to their limits? Yep, Survivor’s got that too. If you’re a reality show fan and you haven’t watched a season of Survivor yet, you have a lot of homework to do this summer. While Prime Video only features a select few seasons, namely those 13 through 28, it’s definitely enough material for you to understand why Survivor reigns supreme as one of the best competition shows. The top three seasons on Prime Video I recommend for Survivor newbies are 16, 18, and 28. 

The Amazing Race

I think I speak for everyone reading this when I say that I miss going places that aren’t the grocery store. To get my travel fix, I’ve been watching The Amazing Race and experiencing the world that way. With 29 seasons and over 1,000,000 miles traveled by contestants, anywhere you’re itching to visit post-COVID has most likely been featured on the iconic show. The challenges on The Amazing Race seem genuinely difficult, and it’s definitely the most stressful reality show on this list in the best way possible.

Hell’s Kitchen

Would this list be complete without a cooking show hosted by Gordon Ramsay? You get the best of both worlds: delicious-looking, gourmet food, and extremely creative expletives from one of the world’s most famous celebrity chefs. The tension and total anger that exudes from the screen when you watch Hell’s Kitchen is genuinely like nothing else in the world. I know I said that The Amazing Race was the most stressful show on this list, but Hell’s Kitchen is definitely a close second. Also, the title sequence of Hell’s Kitchen is on another level — trust me when I say it’s one of the best parts of the show. There are seventeen seasons available on Prime Video, so go get your fix of Ramsay berating his chefs and their not-so-delicious plates!

The Travis Scott Meal at McDonald’s

I get those goosebumps every time I… order the Travis Scott meal from McDonald’s. All jokes aside, on September 8th, McDonald’s added their newest featured item to the menu, the Travis Scott Quarter Ponder. The Travis Scott burger is a beef patty with two slices of American cheese, thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, pickles, onions, mustard, and ketchup all on a quarter-pound sesame seed bun. It is a loaded travis scott burger that comes in at 630 calories.

It is no surprise that as soon as the travis scott burger was added to the menu it sold out at multiple locations. Travis Scott is currently one of the most popular rappers in the world. If you attach his name to a burger it is almost guaranteed that his fans will go, get it. Despite the ridicule that the burger received for being an average quarter pounder. The partnership between McDonald’s and Travis Scott has still found success. Scott currently has 33.4 million followers on Instagram. His multiple posts promoting the new burger received over 10 million likes.

Instagram is not the only social media platform that the burger’s popularity exploded on. Once TikTok heard about the new featured item the Travis Scott burger quickly became trending. McDonald’s employees all over the country would hear costumer roll up to the drive-through and say, “you know what I am here for”, followed by Scott’s song Sicko Mode. Just like that, a McDonalds Travis Scott Meal would be added to the customer’s order.

If you are a die-hard Travis Scott burger fan or a die-hard McDonalds French fry fan order the Travis Scott meal. This meal includes the Travis Scott Burger, medium fries with BBQ sauce, and a medium Sprite. This meal does not disappoint.

Travis Scott burger Meal at McDonald's

After personally trying the travis scott meal. I will honestly say I was impressed by how good it was. Yes, it is a basic quarter pounder with cheese but what more do you want from McDonald’s? The burger is the perfect combination of classic McDonald’s toppings. When I took my first bite into the burger, I could imagine Travis Scott enjoying the same combination of flavors. The pickles were the perfect addition to the meatiness of the patty and bacon. This was also my first experience of dipping my fries into BBQ sauce. Yet again, I was thoroughly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Like Scott, my soft drink of choice is a sprite, so the meal was perfect for me. Not to mention it all comes in at only $6.00.

Just like McDonald’s says this travis scott meal “honestly slaps”. The excitement for the burger might be a little overdramatic but it doesn’t defeat the fact that it is still a good burger. McDonald’s marketing team was genius for making this partnership happen. It made the fast-food chain relevant again and brought thousands of young people to their front doors. At the end of the day, this partnership has done its job while producing a tasty, limited time, burger. Cactus Jack likes it and I do too.

Expo 2020 Dubai – A Foodie Paradise

We go to food festivals, music festivals, sporting events, and many other large events all the time, but what we experienced this past week is all of those rolled into one event and made grander, larger, and better. We got to go on a press trip to Expo 2020 in Dubai this past week and if you were following us on social media, you can see why Dubai is being called the culinary capital of the world right now. 

What is Expo 2020 Dubai? 

 
We’ve all heard the story about how the Eiffel Tower was built for the world fair and became such a popular attraction that it was kept up – well the term world fair is commonly used in the Americas, while other parts of the world like the Middle East and Europe use the term Expo. Expo 2020 was supposed to take place last year, but like most events the pandemic forced a delay and rescheduling to October 2021- March 2022. The theme of this years expo is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. 192 countries have pavilions, or exhibits essentially, that showcase their country, culture, food, innovations, and so much more. These pavilions are complimented by musical performances on festival sized stages, light shows, and educational experiences.  

Where is Expo 2020 Dubai and will getting there be hard? 

Expo 2020 takes placed in the United Arab Emirates – a country formed of seven Emirates, essentially cities, of which Dubai is one of them. The UAE is located on the eastern end of the Arabian Peninsula. Dubai is very easy to get to – there are direct flights from Houston and Dallas. Once there you’ll feel like you are in a futuristic Manhattan with pristine roads, all your favorite hotels, and mostly everyone speaks English. We never felt out of place or worried about our safety at any point (Dubai is also one of the safest cities in the world).  

What is there to do at the Expo?

Buckle up! We were there for four full days and feel like we only scratched the surface of all the events, food, activities that exist at the Expo. In fact, we are convinced that you could come every day for the entire duration of the Expo, which is 6 months, and still not run out of things to do. We’ll break it down by type of activity, but of course we’ll start with our favorite part – the food.  

The Food  

With cuisine from 192 countries on display at this global super event, food is central to the Expo and experiencing a culture. In our conversations with many of the staff members that organized and operate the food venues on site, the way the Expo approached food was unlike any previous iteration. Rather than having restaurants spread out all over the city, Dubai brought the restaurants to the Expo itself. You are at the Italian pavilion, well right next to it you may have an Italian restaurant. These venues are a combination of food concepts created specifically for the Expo and well-known restaurants with pop-ups. Over the course of our time at the Expo, we visited more than 16 different venues (maybe more!) and boy did we enjoy it. For reference there are 200+ food and beverage outlets featuring notable names and rising talent from nearly every corner of the globe, including over 20 Michelin starred chefs. 

Here is a quick rundown of the venues we went to and some of their standout dishes.  

Alkebulan – The World’s First African Dining Hall  

Alkebulan is the world’s first African dining hall curated by renowned NYC-based chef Alexander Smalls. We had the chance to sit down with Chef Alexander at Alkebulan and learn about his vision for the food hall (we recorded an episode of 512 degrees that is now live wherever you get your podcasts).  

At Alkebulan (which is being primed to be an international brand with culture and food halls planned for NYC and London), Chef Smalls has curated 11 African chef-led concepts from across the continent which celebrate the diverse cuisines that Africa has to offer and the innovate spin these young aspiring chefs are applying to the traditional fare.  

We had the pleasure of going to each of the restaurants on site and having Chef Alexander suggest what we should order.  

Can’t Miss – The fried chicken from Chicken Coop.

Rising Flavors 

You are in the UAE, so of course you have to get Arabic food. Rising Flavors brings together 11 concepts from well-known chefs from all over the region to showcase the variety of food the region.  

Can’t Miss- Briket from Villa Mamas by Chef Roaya Saleh 

 
 

Talabat Kitchen  

 
Talabat Kitchen is what you would expect in futuristic sci-fi movie.  We got to tour their set up at the Expo and learn about their cloud kitchen concepts, robot coffee + ice cream baristas, and autonomous robots that deliver food! Using your phone or kiosks at the Expo you can order food/beverages from over 30 brands and 15 cuisines. And once ready, you can pick up your food from a locker, a conveyor belt, have a robot driver it, and in the future maybe even a drone.  

 
Can’t Miss – How can you not marvel at ordering coffee on your phone and then seeing a robot barista make it in no time.  

Long Chim 

This concept originated in Australia by Chef David Thompson. So many amazing Thai dishes! The idea is to share the tastes of the street of Bangkok with a focus on authenticity and favorite dishes.  

Can’t Miss – The spices on the massaman curry of chicken are incredible!  

Bread Ahead 

Bread Ahead is a popular London-based bakery and making it’s first appearance outside the UK at the Expo! They are known for their artisan doughnuts filled with homemade custards and jams. Bread Ahead offers baking classes and we sat in for their doughnut class and baked our own dozen of goodness. As someone that has never baked before, we were amazed at how good our doughnuts turned out and can’t wait to make more!  

Adrift Burger Bar 

We’ve been to Adrift Burger Bar in LA and were excited to see them at the Expo! The New York Times has called this the perfect burger and we agree! 

Can’t Miss – Don’t forget their milkshakes – our favorite is strawberry and vanilla.  

Café Milano  

Every restaurant feels authentic and well thought out at the Expo, but if we had to choose one that takes the cake, it’s Café Milano. We felt transported to Italy with the amazing service, ambiance, drinks, and of course pasta. The music choice added to the experience.  

Can’t Miss – Strozzapreta Zegna, the lamp ragu is unlike anything we have tasted before.  

Mudra 

Located in the sustainability district, Mudra is a plant-based concept by Chef Matthew Kenny marries plant-based eating with simple foods in a gourmet way. We loved the plant-based gourmet burger with a few mocktails

 

Can’t Miss – Buffalo cauliflower as an appetizer – we couldn’t stop eating them! 

Floozie Cookie  

Another London-based entablement visits the Expo. These vegan stuffed cookies come in five different flavors and are perfect for a snack while walking between pavilions or desert.  

Arabian Tea House 

When in the Emirates, eat as the Emirati’s do. The Arabian Tea House is one of the first traditional restaurants in the UAE. From the Emirati hospitality, to gravel lined floors, to unique aromatics the experience was flawless. We went for breakfast and had a traditional breakfast platter.  

Can’t Miss – Traditional Arabic tea.  

You can check out Expo’s Instagram page @eatatexpo2020 too for all the amazing Insta-worthy shots of what we detailed above and much, much more. 

The Pavilions 

 
The Expo is 2.72 square miles and broken down into three operate districts – sustainability, mobility, and opportunity. These districts all are centered around the grand Al Wasl Plaza, home to constant light shows, concerts, and dignitary visits. Each district fits in with the theme of inspiring meaningful action to address the challenges we face in our world today.  

Sustainability District – In this district we learned about the ways each country is doing their part to preserve our planet and ensure future generations have a habitable plant to live on. This district has beautiful and futuristic looking solar trees that capture create energy from the plentiful sun that is present in Dubai year-round. Each district also has pavilions that play off the theme of the district they are in. We loved the Singapore pavilion and it’s towering forest canopy that started at the ground floor and went up three stories. When here make sure you don’t miss Terra, which has some of the most amazing architecture we saw at the Expo in addition to education about our plant and preservation.  

Mobility District – Dubai has more exotic cars than we’ve ever seen before in one city, so it’s only fitting to have a mobility district. This district aims to create conversations around a global society where information, good, and ideas can be exchanged seamlessly. We got to ride in autonomous vehicles, learn about space exploration, and visited the Russian pavilion which focuses on the movement of ideas as key to a successful future.  

Opportunity District – This district is in essence what the Expo centers around in our opinion– creating opportunities for all humans so that we can live better lives. The Mission Possible Opportunity Pavillion is a sight to see and teaches you about inspirational figures that came before us, personal commitments we can make to making the world a better place, and has some of the best vies of the Expo grounds.  

 
Other Notable Activities  

Music – With 192 countries present it seems like every night there are a handful of shows outside their respective pavilions. We ran into many lively, fun, and interactive concerts that will life anyone’s spirits.  A personal favorite was Pakistan and the drum heavy uplifting show we got to take in on a Saturday night. In admission to these performances, the Expo as a constant stream of A-list talent like Alicia Keyers, AR Rehman, and so many others that put on festival like shows – these are all included in the basic price of admission.  

Sports – Whether it is meeting legendry footballer Luis Figo, catching an F1 race on the big screen, or putting up 3 pointers like Steph Curry at the onsite basketball courts, the Expo has sports intertwined into every aspect of the experience.  

Educational/Collaboration – There are daily talks by experts in science, business, politics, and other areas at various pavilions. While we were there, Bill Gates visited and talked about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination efforts. This leads to a SXSW like atmosphere where a mixing of the ideas and learning go hand in hand.  

What about COVID? 

When it comes to pandemic travel, Dubai is one of the safest cities takes the pandemic seriously. Over 90% of the population is fully vaccinated and 100% has had at least one shot. Add on to that the requirement for a negative test to enter the country and you get fewer than 100 cases per day and no deaths for the last 8+ weeks. Dubai is an example of a pandemic should be handled. 

5 TikTok Trends You Can’t Stop Watching

#Ben10

Remember the mid-2000s when Ben 10 aired for the first time; those were good times. Creators on Tiktok are bringing back the hype on this show back with a clever watch slap. Typically in these TikToks you start as one person and turn you into another after the watch slap. Others have started with a statement or question and show answers and such after. It is evolving into a very unique trend.

#GoSkate

Skating with skateboards and roller skates has become the thing again. Long time has passed that these had been reserved for skater dudes, eboys, and hippies, well at least in the public’s eye. This flippin Tik Tok trend has skating how-to videos and showcases new people trying it out as well. My favorite ones are the ones with sick kick flips and tricks that I’ll probably never be able to do.

#SmallBite

This trend showcases all of our little furry friends as they respectfully nibble some of whatever we’re eating. My favorite video has two dogs that were fighting at the beginning and even after that, one big ol’ doggo took a small bite out of his owner’s sandwich. How adorable!

#Popcornduet

These videos can either be absolutely stunning or overwhelmingly hilarious. Some creators are very serious about their popcorn duet and perform in a stunning manner while others make good fun out of it. The songs can be very hard to duet and it’s amazing that people outwardly give it a shot.

#MedievalTiktok

This is my favorite trend right now! I can’t help laughing at how silly some of the jokes are. Creators state something that happens to them or that they do and they dance around to Medieval music with related backgrounds.  In this picture, the text on screen reads “me after eating a piece of bread with cheese” and follows suit into the aspects of the trend. The first time I saw it, I cackled.

How to Make a TikTok Recipe Video?

I have a love/hate relationship with TikTok. There, I said it. When I first started hearing about the app, it was around the summer of 2019. I refused to download it and even took part in rolling my eyes at my friends who participated. Eventually, I fell under the pressure and downloaded it after finals in December. This marked the very beginning of my unfortunate obsession with the app – maybe you can learn from my hours of trial and error and cook your own way into TikTok food stardom.

If you ask most people over the age of 14, they’ll be somewhat ashamed for having the app. It’s almost like some type of taboo thing– don’t ask and don’t tell. When I say annoying throughout this blog post, I mean it with love. Yes, I have a playlist dedicated to songs I’ve found on TikTok and yes, it’s private to my followers on my music platform BUT the excessive amount of time I have wasted on the app is hard to overlook. My weekly screen time wrap-up is embarrassing. 

To understand TikTok, you need to know a little bit about its history. Two friends created music.ly, an app equally as annoying yet addictive. This app further evolved into TikTok, which has been around longer than you might think. At first, it was a lot of lip syncing and dancing but to be honest, not much has changed. It’s hard to give the app one label because the platform is cohesive with so many activities: singing, dancing, cooking, networking, how to’s, health, and beauty tips. If I could describe it in any other way, I would say it’s somewhat of a digital magazine that holds all the topics imaginable.

Food TikTok

When I started making content for The Texas Tasty, I was immediately sucked into the cooking world of TikTok. Once you’re in, you can’t get out. I’ve always been the type of person that goes on Facebook and the search page of Instagram to watch cooking videos so this was right up my alley. Creating TikToks for this outlet has completely changed my daily routine but in the best way possible. My parents always ask me what I need from the grocery store because there’s usually a pretty hefty list. We always have fun on the nights I make dinner with a new recipe, rating it after we have tried a few bites. My friends get an earful of everything I’ve made that week and sometimes I’ll even bring them samples. It has honestly been a win for everyone involved. 

The Creative Process

Making a TikTok is like making a mini movie. In order to even come up with an idea, you have to do a little bit of brainstorming. This usually looks like endless scrolling on the app to make sure I know what is recent and what is currently trending. I struggled for a little bit when it came to coming up with ideas but I realized that the TikToks I made where I genuinely wanted to try the food rather than just following what everyone else was doing, were doing much better than the repetitive trend videos. When managing a food TikTok account, it also helps to follow some of the big TikTok food stars – here’s a list of some of my favorites.

Trends are important to take note of during the idea process. The music, edits, and filters you use can make a big difference in the quality of the video. I finally learned how to seamlessly do the snapping-of-your-finger transition and I don’t think I’ll ever stop using it. Another huge trend was the bling filter. It could make anything look dazzling and delicious. In terms of the cooking world trends, all that was in my head for a few weeks was the benefits of keeping pasta water for your dishes, how to make really tedious breakfast plates, and that I’ve been doing everything wrong in my kitchen up to this point. That’s without even mentioning the vegan side of Tik Tok, which is a story for another day. 

After I have an idea, I plan out what I’ll need to make TikTok possible – much like scriptwriting and casting. As a young girl, I always loved going to the grocery store. But now, in the times of COVID-19, online ordering is the way to go. Yes, I geek out when a recipe calls for new spices and ingredients I’ve never used. It’s a pure feeling and I know it sounds crazy, but take a look at the spice aisle when you get a chance. 

Need a break? Check out some of our original recipes here.

The Filming

It’s now time for filming which can be one of the more stressful steps of the process. Before I even think about pulling out my phone to record, I make sure my kitchen is clean. It’s an aesthetic thing. I also really don’t worry about things looking perfect. If people see you as a normal and relatable person, they’re most likely to try what you’re making. One thing I didn’t realize before starting my journey with TikTok is how much time it takes to get good shots. I have to give it to the big TikTok stars. There is so much work behind the scenes that most people aren’t aware of. The amount of times I’ve had to call a parent over while sauce is dripping off of a pan while the phone is in my other hand while also somehow holding a spatula is too often to count. 

Filming can be tricky. One great thing I’ve learned in school is that you need to plan out your shots and angles BEFORE shooting. Yeah, it’s just a TikTok but it matters. You don’t want to post something that you aren’t proud of and at the same time, people won’t like it if it’s hard to watch. Also, recording the videos through your phone’s camera is so much easier than using the TikTok platform to initially film. You can always cut clips later on. This is a tip I wish I knew before I learned the hard way. Easy ways I try to make clips look more interesting is the slow zoom ins and outs from an ingredient or product, the snap transitions and panning shots. 

tik tok food filming

After filming, I edit. Editing is my favorite part of this whole process. It’s my chance to get creative and have fun with it. I always try to have all the measurements and ingredients on each clip, interchanging fonts and colors as I go. There’s a group of food filters I always choose from and if I’m feeling feisty that day, I may add in a crazy little edit like a split screen, bling filter, or the trippy filter.

If you want to submit your own TikTok creations (or anything else), we are always looking for content creators to feature. Check out our submission page.

Posting Your TikTok Food Creation

The hardest part of the process is posting times and hashtags. These two factors can make or break the engagement of your video. The most common hashtag that you will see is “#fyp,” which stands for ‘For You Page’. This is the equivalent to the Twitter timeline or Instagram home page. Most people will see your content using this tag but overusing it can also be detrimental to your engagement. Your post could be buried by the billions of videos that are hashtagged with the same exact thing. In regards to captions, the shorter the better. No one really wants to read longer than a few words because they’ll be focused on the visuals. Now, timing…that’s still something I’m trying to master. The TikTok algorithm can be a pain and sometimes, the videos you spend the most time filming and editing will only be seen by a few hundred people at best. 

Overall, I’ve found that it’s so much easier to make content that you personally enjoy. One day I was just walking down the aisles of Walmart to get inspiration from new items on the shelves when my next TikTok appeared to me in the form of cereal boxes. At the end of the day, it’s all about expressing yourself through whatever topics you choose on TikTok and having fun with it. 

With that being said, follow us on TikTok @texastasty– you won’t regret it. Check out other hot trends here and sign up for our newsletter to keep up with the latest Texas Tasty scoops here.

Austin City Limits Food Festival

It’s October in Austin and only two things matter – Texas vs. OU and the Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival. The first weekend of October came quick this year and it was hot, sweaty, exhausting, and just perfect. Fun was had, music was heard, food was eaten, and friends were made. We could write a book about the amazing music from Childish Gambino to Tame Impala, and Mumford & Sons, but we’ll leave that for another post.

Each year ACL makes improvements to every part of the experience and that includes the food. ACL Eats this year came back with an expanded lineup that included favorites like Torchy’s, the Mighty Cone, Amy’s Ice Cream, and The Salt Lick. Nothing beats amazing festival food from your favorite Austin vendors, listing to crazy awesome music, and catching Texas football and Astros baseball in between.

Our favorites from this years ACL Eats:

The Beer Garden

Let’s face it, it can get hot in Austin in October and the perfect solution is the beer garden. Ice cold beer, chairs, and massive screens to catch the Longhorns, Astros, and NFL games on made it the perfect recharge station between our favorite sets.

Chi’Lantro BBQ

Chi’Lantro BBQ is a Korean-inspired restaurant company that opened in Austin, Texas in 2010. Since then, the former food truck operation has opened 7 locations in the Austin area. They are known for their Korean fusion dishes including the World-Famous Kimchi Fries. It was the perfect Friday lunch! (Does not need to be highlighted)

Torchy’s Tacos

Do we even need to say more?

Torchy’s Tacos started in 2006 with a mobile trailer: a little red Vespa. Before we knew it, people were rallying beside the taco stand hollering, “damn these tacos are good!” and the legacy began. Today, Torchy’s Tacos operates over 50 locations throughout Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma.With names like the Washingtonian (smoked pulled pork, grilled onions, jack cheese, pickle, and avocado) or Trailer Park (fried chicken, green chile, pico de gallo, and poblano sauce) you can’t go wrong with Torchy’s for lunch, dinner, or even breakfast.

Honorable Mentions

Tiff’s Treats – Tiff’s Treats is famous for bringing hot, fresh-from-the-oven cookies and brownies to hungry treat lovers everywhere, and perfect for the mid-day festival sugar high.

Shawarma Point – Shawarma Point was born in 2013 as a Modern Mediterranean Eatery in Austin. If you want a meal with fresh meat,, flavorful, and easy to eat – they are your go to!

Mighty Cone – Mighty Cone was born at the first ACL Festival in 2002! Their iconic “Hot & Crunchy” cones are the ideal festival food – transportable yet delicious – and an Austin staple.

Lizzo
Tame Impala
Skyline
Childish

5 Tips to Host a Successful Dinner Party

Dinner parties are my love language. The greatest gift I can give to my friends is to invite them into my home, serve them a home-cooked meal, and enjoy each other’s company. I believe the art of hosting is something we have forgotten as restaurants became the new experience to have. While I love trying the latest restaurants in Austin with my friends, there is a different feel when hosting a dinner party at your own home. Something intimate and magical happens that gives me all the butterflies in my stomach. 

Perhaps the reason we are not hosting in our homes is the intimidation of the challenge. We often feel our homes need to be perfectly prepared before we invite friends over, or we need to be an expert in the kitchen. If we shift our mindsets away from the perfectionism of hosting and focus on the “why” for hosting someone in our homes, dinner parties will appear a lot less intimidating. 

Of course, over the many dinner parties I hosted over the years, there is a thing or two I picked up on to make my evenings run smoother. Today, I am taking you through five tips I use every time I plan a dinner party to ensure my guests, and I have a great time. 

Always let you guests bring something, if they offer

When you first extend the invitation to your dinner party guest, more often than not, they will ask if there is anything they can bring. For so long, I wanted to be a super host. Not needing any extra help during my parties. But it is important to remember many guests do not want to arrive empty-handed and want to contribute to the meal. This is especially true if you are hosting guests with any dietary restrictions. I always offer my guests to bring their favorite drink, appetizer, or dessert.

Have an appetizer ready to eat as soon as your guests arrive

People will arrive hungry and ready to eat. I always like to set out an appetizer or two to get the party started. Often, I prepare a charcuterie board for my guests. This appetizer comes together relatively quickly and always impresses. A few types of meat, cheeses, and crackers go a long way as an appetizer. If you don’t want to prepare an appetizer, the freezer section in almost every store carries great appetizers that always end up tasting great. My favorite to pick up are the cheese puff pastry bites.

Prepare a dish you’ve made before

I believe one of the biggest reasons people are afraid to host a dinner party is because they feel the need to prepare an extravagant meal. Believe me, I used to be that person. I learned over the years, it is essential to keep the dishes you prep at your comfort level. The best way to feel confident in the meals you make is to make something you have made before. This is your time to pull out the recipe for the dinner you make time and time again. By preparing something you have made before, the anxiety of, “will it taste good?” does not exist. My goto is always chicken parmesan because I know I can prepare it ahead and throw it in the oven to finish cooking once my guests arrive.

Keep the table setting simple

You’ve invited your friends over for dinner, prepared your home, cooked a beautiful meal, and now it is time to arrange the table. When I set the table for my dinner parties, I use a formula for my settings. First, the tablecloth or placemats go down, then the plates, napkins, silverware, and finally, fresh flowers and candles. The bottom line is, I like to keep things simple. I use the same vase every time, so I know exactly how to arrange my flowers. I use white linens, so I know they will match any occasion, and I like to accessorize according to the season or theme of the party. 

Ambiance is Key

Something always on my mind when hosting is the ambiance. Is the music playing? Are there enough mood lights on? Does my house smell good? Sometimes I find myself so wrapped up in these questions, I forget the most critical part of the night, my guests. To avoid getting wrapped up in my concerns, I get everything set before my guests arrive. I turn on my favorite dinner party playlist on Spotify, I turn on all of my extra lamps and ambient lighting, and I light my favorite candles around my house. By doing all of these things before your guests arrive, you will relax knowing your home is ready and your guests are set to walk into the perfect night. 

So what do you say? Are you ready to host the dinner party of your dreams? With the holiday season here, we are at the perfect time to invite your friends over for a special night in. 

I hope these tips ease your mind and prepare you to host a wonderful evening with the ones you love most.