In anime, food appears at its best—almost an exaggerated three-dimensional version of itself that reflects upon, explores and explains the nuances of Japanese life with incredible accuracy and detail. Though it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes these animations so appealing in the first place, that’s exactly what we’ll aim to do in this piece.
Over on Instagram, accounts like @anime_food post screenshots of the rich range of mouth-watering meals seen across different styles of anime, while others such as @en93kitchen turn infamous delicacies seen in the animation genre into picture-perfect edible treats. This social media buzz is one of the many factors that’s creating a culture of anime foodies across the globe.
Anime food’s celebrity fanbase is also helping cement its cultural clout. The likes of BTS, Ariana Grande, Megan Thee Stallion, Quentin Tarantino and Michael B. Jordan are all aficionados, which is further spearheading the niche’s borderless appeal. As it moves from an under-the-radar genre to being accepted on a global scale, anime food has become the star of the show and the main attraction.
“The connection between anime and food is captivating because it allows viewers to experience different cultures, connect with their favourite characters, and create a sensory experience that feels almost real,” Andu Ava, co-founder and CEO of manga and anime-themed restaurant Uzumaki London, told SCREENSHOT.
Anime food is ushering in new ways of thinking about and relating to food in popular culture, and it’s satiating people’s appetites, in turn welcoming in a new era of anime fans and food connoisseurs in the process.
“If a certain food becomes integral to a certain anime’s storyline, fans will want to experience the same food as their favourite anime character,” explained KC, General Manager for the Singapore-based independent art studio Collateral Damage Studios. “It’s like getting closer to someone they idolise.”
The immersive nature of anime and its ability to make anything and everything look hyper-realistic, especially food, almost as if you can reach out and taste what you see on-screen, is allowing audiences to not only identify with their favourite characters but also imagine what life is like in the ‘animeverse’. In a world that’s often all doom and gloom, food-based anime content is joyful and soothing to watch.
“By showcasing detailed animations and close-up shots of the food, viewers can imagine themselves actually eating and enjoying it,” Ava told me. “This creates a strong connection between the viewer and the anime, making the experience more enjoyable and memorable.”
Steaming bowls of ramen are given an alluring shine in Muteki Kanban Musume, onigiri is wrapped in a velvety layer of seaweed in Pokémon, takoyaki has an irresistible lustre in Takoyaki Mantoman and taiyaki have just the right amount of glaze in My Hero Academia and Kanon. The food in anime depicts everyday setups and scenarios with a huge amount of detail and care, leading infamous dishes to become popular both on and off-screen.
“Anime fans are known to patronise restaurants that are featured within anime and order the same dish as their favourite characters,” says KC. Whether that’s hunting down anime food at street food markets, small hole-in-the-wall joints or well-known restaurant chains, anime enthusiasts have found that delicacies taste better when they get to try them for themselves.
“At Uzumaki London, we are passionate about bringing the world of anime food to life. We have seen a growing interest from our audiences in seeking out the food they see on-screen, and we provide a unique dining experience that caters to anime fans’ cravings,” Ava explained.
Lovers of the predominantly hand-drawn animations are hunting down ebi fry, giant-like fried shrimp rolled in breadcrumbs as seen in Sailor Moon and Restaurant to Another World. They’re tucking into anpan, a Japanese roll filled with sweet red bean paste that features in the anime series Anpanman, and they’re cleaning their plates eating katsudon, a pork cutlet rice bowl, the same way figure skater Yuri Ktasuki does in Yuri On Ice, in order to get closer to the content they love to watch.
“Another important function of food in anime, as exemplified in Naruto, is that it makes characters more relatable to the audience. Naruto’s love of ramen and his enjoyment of food in general are aspects of his personality that many viewers can relate to,” explains Ava. “It humanises him and makes him more approachable.”
Anime communities worldwide are widening their palates by watching these shows, but they’re also looking for ways to embed themselves in Japanese society and culture at large. “Anime and manga have played a significant role in introducing Japanese cuisine and culture to a wider global audience, particularly among millennials and gen Z,” says Ava.
“The depiction of food in anime is not just about showcasing the dishes themselves but also the cultural significance of food in Japan. Food is often used in [the animation genre] to strengthen relationships and build up strength for the next adventure,” he adds.
Beyond food, it’s the cultural significance and immersion into unfamiliar territory that’s keeping fans so engrossed in the genre that they continue to come back for more.
Experimental cuisine is also very much flavour of the month and on the anime menu. In Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma, an anime series that follows students at a fine dining academy battling it out at a cooking tournament, Western dishes such as hamburgers and beef stew are reinvented and star alongside traditional Japanese cuisines such as bento boxes and ramen.
It’s this combination of old world and new world, traditional and non-traditional, expected and unexpected that’s deepening people’s love of the genre while opening their eyes to the ingenuity and diversity of anime cuisine.
The food in anime is just as memorable as anything else, if not more so. “Anime characters have their own favourite foods and unique eating habits that serve to make them more relatable to the audience, creating a deeper emotional connection between viewers and the characters they love,” explains Ava.
Driven by a hunger for novelty, newness and relatability, anime food is compelling and doesn’t disappoint. Whether old or new, from Japan or outside of it, anime food is appealing because it’s become a genre all of its own. Anime food is the moment, and it’s here to stay.
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.