When most of us picture corporate America, we imagine a sea of faceless suits drinking espressos, standing in dimly lit elevators and tapping at their watches as if time itself were an unruly intern in need of a proper telling off. Often a derogatory phrase, we tend to associate these morally ambiguous workers as masterminds in overworking their staff, underpaying their employees and ultimately ruining the lives of so many ordinary citizens.
While it may seem like an unfair judgement, we’ve been fed a stream of TV series, movies and books which all push the idea that these people don’t know how to have fun, don’t cultivate a positive work environment and aren’t the kinds of individuals we could ever relate to. We’ve even created online subcultures and (often derogatory) trends such as girlboss, boyboss and hustle culture to strike fear in us and make us contemplate the ways in which corporate environments have deteriorated our mental health.
However, one particular online creator has been on a mission to officially break the fourth wall and bust some myths about work culture. Introducing Corporate Natalie, a TikTok creator and prolific Instagram poster who shares daily work-orientated comedy sketches online to entertain audiences and remind us all that our careers don’t have to be a constant source of stress or fear—rather, they can be a prime opportunity to poke fun at a fellow co-worker without it spiralling into a human resources nightmare.
SCREENSHOT was lucky enough to chat with Natalie over Zoom, discuss her content and find out how her online persona helped spawn an entire genre of TikTok comedy surrounding work life.
TikTok is often celebrated for being the launch pad for so many of our favourite online creators, and Natalie’s story is no exception. That being said, when the content creator first dipped her toes into the video-sharing platform, her intention was not to form an immediately identifiable brand. “When I first started I was just Natalie. I had no intention of becoming Corporate Natalie. I just downloaded the app, in fact I was actually a TikTok hater to begin with, and didn’t want to waste time on the app. I thought it was silly, but then I downloaded it and started making videos.” We’ve all been there.
“From the day I downloaded it, I started creating. I wasn’t just a viewer, I was so excited to start making videos. To begin with, nothing to do with corporate really, maybe a few videos, and then it took off into that niche which the algorithm put me into, which I love. It was new and exciting at the time and it just took off because no one was making fun of corporate America—everyone was so afraid of losing their jobs and poking fun at it was exciting,” Natalie continued.
Her public brand is part personal and part reserved and she’s designed it this way for a reason. “Unlike other creators and influencers, I am very private—it’s probably the corporate professional in me. I like being behind this character and that it’s not my first and last name, it’s this character I’ve created and curated. What I show on Corporate Natalie, I have control over. It doesn’t have to be every aspect of my life, it’s this one avenue of corporate life that I show.”
We also spoke about the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic massively altered people’s mindsets when it comes to content creation, both as a hobby and as a career—and also, how big companies began to come around to the idea of having a far less restrictive digital footprint.
Natalie explained: “Since the pandemic, the whole view of content creation and having a personality at work has shifted. There was so much fear and the power was in the hands of the employer. In the past I had to go through all of these social media meetings where they’d say ‘Don’t attend a rally with our company’s shirt on’ and ‘Don’t do X, Y and Z’ and I’m sure there are companies that still do that, but now having a big platform is so exciting.”
As the creator explains, the pandemic in many ways helped transform companies’ mindsets in regard to online content. It helped place far more power back into the employees hands and tipped the scales. While pre-pandemic she would’ve never felt comfortable having this kind of public following, now, Natalie says it’s a major asset when it comes to interviewing for prospective corporate positions. Having a gen Zer on your side can work wonders.
“It opened an avenue where anyone can be a creator. We would have never gotten to this point of the common creator—you don’t have to be this famous influencer or celebrity, you can be anyone and your video can still go viral,” she emphasised.
In fact, more so than ever, we’re seeing people being the most receptive to content creators who are everyday, ordinary people. The most followed creators on TikTok include the D’Amelio sisters, @homm9k, and Khaby Lame—all unknown individuals who found their niche and popularity on the app.
Natalie also stipulated that the very nature of TikTok lends itself to this kind of online success and relatability which a lot of gen Zers can appreciate. “It encourages a very casual vibe where you can post a video that someone might not be comfortable posting on their in-feeds or Reels because with Instagram, we’ve just grown up with this curated view where you don’t want a casual poor quality video on there—that would ruin your aesthetic.”
Despite attempts to create more authenticity online with apps such as BeReal, TikTok remains one of the only platforms still celebrating those raw ‘in the moment’ clips. “I think people still really do care about how they are presenting themselves on these other platforms, whereas with TikTok, it’s sort of an experimental platform where you can have a username which isn’t your name, you can post videos—it just feels very, well, I would say welcoming.”
Natalie went on to clarify, “I’ve definitely got hate and it’s been very hurtful in many ways but the nature of TikTok encourages everyone to put themselves out there and I’m so thankful that they liked my videos and it was able to go off in the way that it did.”
Of course, we know that TikTok—while it can provide meaningful communities for some—can also be a highly toxic place at times. Not only can the platform be manipulated by groups or individuals who seek to exploit users, it can also lead to torrents of hate comments and abuse being aimed at creators for no reason other than to cause upset.
Natalie herself has faced vile comments online but, as she told me, she tries to prioritise damage control and knows not to take things too personally. “It’s definitely hard, but for me as a person—quick disclaimer—I have such thick skin, I make fun of myself constantly but it is very ‘dog eat dog’ and if you do want to be a creator, it comes with a lot of criticism, pain and things you didn’t know you were insecure about. It’s not for the faint of heart.”
When in doubt, Natalie always knows she’ll have her family members to turn to for advice—and she’s used this to create a pretty clear set of guidelines to stick to.“I’ve always been taught my whole life, and I think Corporate Natalie is truly a manifestation of this, anything I post, my mom would always be like ‘Your grandma is going to see it, would you be okay with her seeing it?’ and I still agree with that. For me [in regard to her videos], in terms of its appropriateness or if it’s making fun of someone else or tearing someone else down, [you have to ask yourself,] ’Would you want to do that publicly?’ because then you’re going to be torn down for it.”
Natalie also emulates a sense of reason when it comes to her online brand. She’s found a way to marry her corporate brand with genuine personability that really connects with viewers—and at the same time gives her enough distance from any unwarranted criticism.
When asked how she manages this, she explained that her personal brand is mainly built on positivity: “I’m making fun of the state of corporate America and I do try to keep it in the lane of something I’m comfortable with. My parents follow me, my employer sees this, so it’s very important for me to maintain something that I’m proud of. So when I get these hate comments about my face, my voice, whatever it may be, I know to my core that everything I post, I’m proud of and is not fostering a community of hate. That helps me get through, [knowing that] I’m making people smile.”
Naturally, from one TikTok-obsessed gen Zer to another, I needed to know Natalie’s personal favourite content to consume on the app—and she did not disappoint.
“It’s crippling being a creator on TikTok and being on the app so much to create content and then also being fully addicted as an individual user. I love comedy. I think Bomanizer is hilarious, I want to film with him so badly.”
Now, that is a collaboration I would pay big bucks to see. For those of you who haven’t yet been graced with Bomanizer’s videos on your FYP, you’re missing out on some top quality Kardashian-inspired reenactments.
Ultimately, I couldn’t walk away from our chat without asking Natalie for her top tips when it comes to starting your career in the corporate world. Number one on her list? Confidence. “When I joined corporate America, I was working in a Big Four consulting firm and it was so rigid, so structured, so hierarchical. I entered the workforce with this fear of showing my personality or making a mistake, I was so fearful of doing something wrong. And now, even small things like posting videos without makeup on or things that I’ve never done before, it’s helped me grow this confidence through Corporate Natalie.”
Don’t stress just yet, channelling your ‘fake it till you make it’ energy is also just fine according to the creator. “Even if you’re not confident and you’re so scared about not knowing how to use Excel and you’re terrified to ask, just try to be confident and pretend that you do. Truly fake it till you make it, because it pays off and it makes people respect you,” the corporate queen went on to say.
Women have been long underappreciated in the corporate world, and even now in 2022, reports clearly highlight the fact that there is still a major deficit of women in high-ranking positions and leadership roles.
Chatting about her own experiences, Natalie implores women to express themselves at work: “Don’t be afraid to show your personality. It took me six months to tell a joke in a meeting with my team and they were like ‘Wait, you’re kind of funny’ and I thought ‘Yeah, I haven’t even shown you my whole personality because I’ve been so afraid of you.’ Know that you got hired for a reason—never think that you’re less than (imposter syndrome is crippling so try to not let that affect you). Of course, it’s easier said than done, especially for women—you just grow up thinking you’re doing something wrong and really, you’re doing something amazing.”
That’s it everyone, the fourth wall has officially been broken. Corporate America may still masquerade as a faceless suit wearing an Apple watch, but hey, with the help of Corporate Natalie, we are far more likely to get through the working day in a much better mood—although I’d keep the discreet TikTok watching toilet breaks to a minimum if I were you.
If you’ve never had dreams of dating one of those incredibly cool and skilled chefs who have the most perfectly curated Instagram feed you’ll ever set your eyes on—the likes of Laila Gohar and Jonah Reider—then it’s simple: you’re either lying to yourself or lying to me.
As Disney+’s The Bear continues to garner rave reviews for its portrayal of day-to-day life in the kitchen, and following the success of 2021’s relentless yet accurate single-take movie Boiling Point, it’s safe to say that cooking is in and Deliveroo-ing all your troubles away is very much out.
But like with all things on the internet, rule 34—you know, the infamous claim that if something exists, it will inevitably end up getting sexualised online—has already made its mark on the comeback chefs and cooking in general are currently having.
In other words, while Gohar, Reider, and other Instagram-famous culinary artists are keeping it PG 13 due to the nature of their social media platform of choice, our friends over on TikTok have decided to spice things up after spotting a rather tasty gap in the bottomless pool that is the video-sharing app’s creative content.
Enter Cedrik Lorenzen, TikTok’s sexiest chef who, since January 2020, has managed to bring a whole different meaning to ‘food porn’ through mouth-watering cuisine and, well, other things too… In an attempt to dissect the rise of #WetTikTok—which has 22.7 million views at the time of writing—and shed some light on the creative process behind the trend, I reached out to the naughty, finger-sucking pro himself. Buckle up everyone, because it’s about to get hot in here.
For those of you out there who are interested in learning more about exactly what it takes to become a sexy chef, it’s important we first take a moment to look back on Lorenzen’s life and career. Though the 30-year-old content creator grew up in Switzerland, he moved to Australia during his teens. From then on, he moved a fair bit between his new home, Indonesia, and Europe.
“My professional background consists of over ten years of hospitality experience,” Lorenzen told SCREENSHOT. It might come as a surprise to some that none of his experience related to the kitchen, instead focusing on the front-of-house. “I have always aimed to work for the best in the industry. During my time, I did a lot of fine dining (Michelin-level and Hatted-level restaurants) but also cafes and bars.”
Some people step into a classroom and shine—their performance is consistently stellar in all academic subjects. Others are just as bright and capable, but they seem to struggle with listening to a teacher and focusing on their work. In a way, Lorenzen considered himself part of that second group. “I got into this industry initially because I did poorly in college and lacked the overall motivation to study. I was also unsure what I wanted to do in the long run, and with university fees being so expensive in Australia, it did not make sense to continue straight into uni (like most others),” he explained.
But further along the line, aged 25, Lorenzen decided to start studying again—and he was ready for something more challenging this time around. Though he first applied for the #2 business hospitality university (at the time) in the world located in Switzerland (and is now ranked #1), unfortunately, he shared that his Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) grades from Australia were not high enough.
In order to get in, he had to redo his Year 12, which he then got the required grades for after a year, entered as a direct entry student and eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Hospitality Business Management. Speaking about the specificities of his experience, Lorenzen added, “Again, to avoid confusion, I did not do any cookery classes at this university. It was purely theoretical, not related to food or cooking, with a six-month administrative internship.”
It was also during his “university stint,” as he called it, that the creator started focusing on TikTok and Instagram to practise his craft, “with the idea of eventually using these platforms to jump into the next idea or business.” As you can imagine, having to work to pay his living costs while passing his modules successfully and cooking weekly was challenging to say the least. “Perhaps it was for this reason that I completed my studies in four years instead of three,” Lorenzen added.
“In the beginning, it was tough because many of the dishes I made took me three to five attempts before I considered even uploading them, each taking anywhere between eight to ten hours. It was only after two years that I started to manage it in one or two attempts. And then, one year before completing my studies, I started having my first viral videos, and my plan started to click. The last year of studies was also quite intense, working almost day and night with little to zero free time between studying, cooking, and working outside of university. The pressure to keep up content while continuously improving was challenging (and is still now).”
It’s funny that he mentioned when his “plan started to click” because, when asked about what exactly inspired him to ‘sensualise’ his skills and video content on TikTok, Lorenzen first explained that “there wasn’t, per se, a plan of action”—at least not to the extent that it is now.
That being said, there definitely was a vision, a goal to keep his content on-brand when it comes to the “storyline of creating beautiful desserts for your significant other.” As time passed and his skills improved (both in video editing and cooking), Lorenzen continued to expand on this sexy food approach. “However, ultimately, the goal has always been to open up my own business eventually. Making content, in part, has been a strategic move towards that goal,” he told SCREENSHOT.
It’s a tough world out there, and looking at Lorenzen’s tender dough-kneading and provocative drip-licking in slo-mo, I couldn’t help but worry that the sexual side of his content would ultimately distract viewers from the culinary talent he also clearly showcases.
To this, the creator replied that, even though it is a risk he’s fully aware of, he prefers to see it as a challenge rather than a threat, “I always knew when I started to compete in this 15-second content space that I had to bring something interesting to the table to capture the short attention span of my audience while also showcasing my craft.”
“It is a fine balance between creating something perfect and slightly triggering,” Lorenzen observed. “In short, as long as my skills continuously improve, I don’t think my approach takes away anything from my talent. But then again, ultimately, my followers and viewers who watch my content can be the judge of that,” he concluded.
I have to say, more often than not, the chef’s answers to my questions surprised me. As shameful as it is to admit, perhaps I had subconsciously let my perception of Lorenzen’s content influence my expectations. It’s safe to say that, when I mentioned his go-to moves of “being shirtless or spitting in a dish,” I didn’t hate the fact that he put me back in my place, saying: “For clarification’s sake, I don’t spit in my food—it’s my sink.”
Not only is Lorenzen incredibly skilled when it comes to making his audience drool—and very down to earth about it, might I add—but he also learnt to take it on the chin when it comes to the range of feedback his content receives.
“It is what it is. There are always people criticising what I do—the spit, the fingering of food, me being shirtless, not wearing gloves, my captions about gender equality, and so on. All I can say is that there are bigger things to worry about than commenting on whether I should be wearing gloves or not, for instance. While it may be annoying, I’ve learnt over time to take everything with a grain of salt and ‘kill em with kindness’ when replying to shitty comments,” the creator explained.
If you consider yourself as part of the netizens who aren’t completely down with the chef’s sultry ways—“thirst traps balanced with artistry,” as he described his videos himself—then I hope you find comfort in the fact that, prior to speaking with Lorenzen, I did spare a thought for you.
It is my incredible thoughtfulness—nothing more, and certainly nothing less—that led me to ask the creator whether the character he had built on social media was actually supposed to be arousing or if there was another side to it, one poking fun at what ‘sexy’ is expected to look online.
Alas, it appears I went too meta with this one, because Lorenzen simply told me, “It is meant to be arousing. Does it always work? Maybe not.” You win some, you lose some, heh?
I guess this is my cue to leave then—you’ve probably had enough of my inner ramblings and are eager to swiftly close this tab, in search of more of Lorenzen’s mouth-watering content. I don’t blame you. Bon appétit!
You can also check out Cedrik Lorenzen’s website here.