If you've seen these viral video tutorials and wondered who actually comes up with this stuff, look no further than Miami-based Valentina Mussi, founder of Sweet Portfolio, her Instagram brand dedicated to all things food and drink in Miami.
Today, the 22-year-old is best known for her eye-catching, easy-to-follow recipe hacks wherein she demonstrates how to make everything from adorable panda pancakes and mermaid smoothie bowls to those whipped dalgona lattes everyone's so crazy about. In the past year, she has attracted over a million TikTok followers, as well as collaborations with Starbucks, Wendy's, and Papa John's. (Among her most popular posts to date: how-to videos for making Dorito-crusted fried cheese, strawberry milk, and a mermaid milkshake.)
The young content creator has also inked a deal with Simon & Schuster for her own cookbook. Scheduled for release June 1, The Unofficial TikTok Cookbook: 75 Internet-Breaking Recipes for Snacks, Drinks, Treats, and More! includes how-tos for drinks, snacks, and dinner.
Mussi says most of her recipes can be prepared in the break-room microwave at the office or in your college dorm room.
"The goal behind my cookbook is that anyone can replicate these recipes, no matter their skill level," Mussi tells New Times, adding that the book will also contain tips on how to create your own viral video recipe post.
Mussi, who was raised in Miami, comes from an Italian-Colombian family. She attributes her unique outlook on food and culture to her diverse background.
But she says recipe creation wasn't what drove her to start Sweet Portfolio when she was 19. Rather, she was inspired to catalog her favorite foods in and around Miami. One of the Magic City's first food-content creators, Mussi set out to patronize and promote the Miami restaurant scene. The Instagram account now boasts more than a half-million followers.
When the lockdown descended, Mussi pivoted to a new kind of content: easy snack recipes to keep her audience engaged.
"Before the pandemic, I used my account to support Miami's kitchens. People were always so interested in that process — how a chef creates a dish," Mussi says. "I've always baked, ever since I was little, but I didn't think people would be interested in what I was doing in my own kitchen. But I couldn't go out to share other people's stories, so I started making food."
She also began sharing videos that showed how to prepare simple dishes that make use of common pantry items. Her goal: no more than five ingredients per recipe.
Mussi's first quarantine recipe video showed how to make dalgona coffee, a whipped concoction popular in Greece and easily re-created with instant coffee, sugar, and a hand blender. A week into lockdown, it hit 3.7 million views. The instant success netted her more than 100,000 TikTok followers iin just a few days.
She says one of her favorite recipes is a snack she makes for herself when she's short on time and craving her favorite comfort food. The pizza-roll braid is an easy snack with a pleasing presentation that requires just three ingredients: Pillsbury dough, cheese, and pepperoni.
"Most of all, this book is about the universal love of food," Mussi says of her inspiration. "Whether it's the bored 20-year-old who is craving something fun to eat or the parent who wants to entertain their kids, this is a positive way to get through a tough time, and offers something we can all find comfort in."