This week I had the opportunity to interview Jeremy Scheck, a current Cornell undergraduate student who has risen to the ranks of TikTok star. Like most students, Jeremy started spending his free time on social media giant TikTok to distract himself from boredom in quarantine. But what makes Jeremy’s experience noteworthy, is the fact that his videos have gained so much popularity that he has now over one million followers. He shares high quality videos of food he prepares.
To start with a little background, Jeremy is a current junior here at Cornell majoring in Spanish and Italian. His strong passion for cooking and food started at a young age. His childhood memories are filled with baking delicious treats with his grandmother, but it was not until age 16 that he actually started taking cooking seriously. He knew that the best way to become a good cook was with practice. His first challenge was to bake bread every single day for a week until he perfected it. Then, he started watching YouTube videos as inspiration to whip up some new recipes. He then continued this passion and got a job at a local bakery in his town, eventually working at Williams Sonoma.
Although he was always interested in cooking informally, what really inspired Jeremy to pursue his hobby more seriously was a documentary filmed by Michael Pollen called “Cooked.” This documentary inspired Jeremy to learn more about food from a scientific and anthropological point of view, as opposed to solely focusing on the culinary aspects. With time, he learned that the best way to learn about food would be by using a multidisciplinary approach. Therefore, in addition to his major requirements, Jeremy’s schedule includes classes in various topics such as food science and food insecurity to learn the ins and outs of the food industry. This interest slowly evolved into a true passion. During quarantine, Jeremy would watch an array of food cooking videos that individuals posted on TikTok. In the back of his mind, he always knew he could make more unique and higher quality videos. At first, Jeremy explained how he felt his TikTok stardom slowly evolved from being at the right place at the right time. On the other hand, Jeremy also knew he was equipped with the proper skills to take high quality pictures of food and transform them into an engaging video. Although it took him a while to develop his own style, editing photos and videos was something he had been doing for years. His expertise in both cooking and photography really shows as viewers enthusiastically comment on his aesthetically pleasing and engaging videos.
When I asked Jeremy what his favorite thing to cook was, I was astonished, yet impressed, by his response. He explained to me two things. One: This is an incredibly hard question, since what he’s passionate about cooking changes all the time. And two: He actually enjoys making things that he grew up not liking. For instance, growing up Jeremy felt like he never enjoyed pie, an American delicacy. As a result, he challenged himself to keep trying new recipes until he learned how to make the perfect pie for his palate — now pie is one of his favorite things to make. This, I thought, was such an interesting response. Imagine how amazing it would be if you could transform every food you didn’t enjoy as a child into a delicacy. Now that would be the life! I also asked Jeremy what’s his favorite restaurant in the area is, to which he responded Hazelnut Kitchen — by a landslide.
Finally, I made sure to ask Jeremy what would be his advice for college students. He explained that for students who are living in their own apartments this year, it’s so important to do some form of “lazy meal prep.” If you don’t know what that means, go check out his video on it! Also, be sure to check out Jeremy’s website, collegetownkitchen.com, for recipes and lessons for your college apartment. This easily accessible website also provides a recipe index and an array of TikTok recipes that students can recreate such as “Dr. Hogewood’s Banana Bread,” spicy rigatoni with vodka and soy marinated salmon.
Sofia Siciliani is a junior in the College of Human Ecology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.