abi marquez

Let Her Cook: How Abi Marquez Became The Head Chef Of TikTok Food Content

Lumpia Queen and then some.

What started as an experiment to turn dishes into lumpia became a global platform.

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There’s nothing like the power of food to bring people together, especially when it comes to watching content about food. From mukbangs to cooking videos and more, food content will always be a comfort for many. You probably know at least one person who can’t start their meal without watching a food video first, and we don’t blame them. It’s this style of content that Abi Marquez has found herself at the forefront of. 

In just the past couple of years, the 23-year-old content creator has built herself a social media empire as one of the top food content creators in the Philippines whose reach touches all four corners of the world. So, what’s her secret ingredient to success? Well, it’s more than just a pinch of salt. 


Like with any good story, Abi’s starts with the fact that being a content creator was something she initially didn’t see herself becoming. While she’s always loved food and cooking since she was a kid, Abi also went through many sidequests. “Growing up, I did have these different hobbies. I used to dance in high school, I would join dance competitions, and then I did voice lessons I think for five to six years. And then I was also interested in filmmaking,” she shares with NYLON Manila. 


While these endeavors seemed to have little in common with one another, it was these varied interests and skills she learned that laid the building blocks for her eventual career in content creation. “It was January 2022. I was in my last semester in college and online class. So I really had a lot of time, I guess, to do the things I love at home. And also, I was at home with all of this equipment.”

From her initial foray, Abi knew she struck gold as what she made at home entered the screens of millions around the world. “It began as a creative outlet during the pandemic for me, and it’s just something that I enjoy, without wanting anything in return.” 


With the way social media works and trends changing in a snap of a finger, content creators need to be quick on their toes to stay on top of their game. Abi is well aware of this, which is why she approaches her work with precision. “I think like 90% of my videos are very intentional because, from the very beginning, I approach content creation logically or academically.”

This mindset bore from the fact that Abi began creating content during her academic years. During her last semester in college, where she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Restaurant Management, she proposed to her department that for her OJT, she would make content for her internship and put her learnings in actual academic case studies. Through her research, Abi dove head-first into the algorithm and the makings of a viral video, lessons that shaped how she approaches her own content. 

“Even after [school], I find myself watching a lot of algorithm videos or videos of other creators giving tips on what has proven to be engaging for the past few years. And I also actively study viral videos right now and try to figure out what makes them engaging.” 


Abi puts in the work, gets her head in the books, and keeps her ear close to the feedback of what her massive following is saying about her content. It’s this kind of thinking that has turned seemingly random ideas like stuffing peach mango pie into lumpia engaging viral hits to the tune of 31 million views on TikTok alone. It’s quick and snackable content, literally. But more than that, Abi makes it a point to always inject her content with her personality and humanity. It is through her personality, Abi feels, is where her content really clicks. 

“I inject my personality in [my videos]. And that’s what makes my videos unique from others. I show that by recording my cooking videos nang tuloy-tuloy. I also record myself and kind of forget that I’m recording. So that way I could show my personality in the video, and I keep those unplanned or fun bits in the video.” She adds, “It takes a certain discipline to show that kind of authenticity and vulnerability or pagiging human in a video.”

And if you’re wondering, yes, she does eat and taste everything she cooks and shares them with her family, friends, neighbors, and staff. This also plays into Abi’s goal of giving the viewer what they want. “I require myself to do consumption shots because [the audience] can gauge how good the recipe was. On the other hand, it’s also a quality assurance thing for me kasi one fact about me is I don’t usually test recipes before I make the videos.” 


Given Abi’s skills in the kitchen, most of what she makes is bussin’. But there will be a few stinkers here and there, and those, Abi admits, do not make the cutting room floor. “Those are the videos that I don’t publish. One of the most important things I try to protect when it comes to content creation is the trust of my audience. I will not release anything bad. I want to build that level of credibility and relationship with them.” 


With how big Abi’s audience has grown, the global reach does shape how she views her content. “I actually think about the whole demographics of my audience because creators need to know their audience when they create content, to know what catches their attention.” She takes the time to study her audience on her platforms and tailor her content to fit those who follow her, say more English content on her Instagram where the majority of her followers are outside the Philippines.  

But just because Abi has a thorough understanding of who is watching her, she doesn’t box herself to appeal to a certain demographic. Instead, she uses her platform to her advantage as an opportunity to promote the best of Filipino cuisine. “The thing about having viewers that are international, it’s an honor and an opportunity to be able to share the local dishes we have in the Philippines globally and introduce our cuisine on that level. But I also try to balance it out with some familiarity.”


That comes in the form of introducing niche Filipino dishes that people outside the country may not be familiar with. She gives the example of suman and how she introduced the dish through the interesting hook of saying this is how Filipinos eat dessert with rice. Not only does that catch global viewers, but also makes Filipinos interested to see her take on the dish.

It’s not easy to finetune your content on that sweet spot, but as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. “You have to take some time off to just brainstorm recipes and also learn about the craft because social media is basically an algorithm.” 


Abi may have started out making Filipino dishes, but her reach has undeniably gone global. Millions of followers across her social media accounts, over one billion cumulative views on TikTok, and her recent win at the 28th Webby Awards for People’s Voice in the Social – Food & Drink category are proof of this award-winning Gen Z creator’s influence. Her success isn’t just for personal gain though, but it’s also proof that Filipino cuisine has the potential to reach a global audience and start a discourse. It’s a point of pride for Abi that she gets to help in doing that. 

“Seeing how Filipinos really support the recipes that I post just shows how proud Filipinos are of our cuisine. And at the same time, I love how the videos spark a discussion, or bring people together in the comment section and share about their anecdotes or relationship with that food. On the international level, seeing my Filipino recipes go viral just says that people are interested in Filipino food, and there’s an opportunity for Filipino food to shine at that level.”


As the tastes of Filipino dishes continue to get a larger audience, Abi looks to a bigger purpose and hopes that, through her videos, she can give proper exposure to local cuisine and even inspire others to make it themselves. After all, food is embedded into the DNA of Philippine culture and the bedrock of many beliefs and practices. “My mission is to fill these spaces with Filipino food. This generation is consuming a lot of media and feeling ko tama lang we supply or we fill these spaces with valuable educational content with Filipino recipes.” 

And for the future content creators hoping to follow in her footsteps? Take it from Abi and don’t be afraid to start from where you are. As long as what makes you special is in your content, you’re on the right track. 

“Start with whatever you have. It actually doesn’t matter that much as long as the story or the actual content is great. People are always gonna want shiny new things. So, if you’re a new creator, please do the world a favor and do something new. And don’t try to replicate other creators. I think the best way to stand out, especially in this niche, is with your personality. No one is you, you are the only you, and injecting your personality into a video automatically makes it unique.”

Photos courtesy of NYMA Talent Management 

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