Ayo cheetah, let’s cook | TASTE GOOD

Ignore the rapid rise of TikTok nutritional guides at your peril: increasingly, the discourse (and fun) revolves around food culture in this short, highly addictive format. A new generation of stars in front of the camera is reaching an amazingly large and worldwide audience that is always online. Around 40,000 people and rising have more than a million followers on the platform, many of whom integrate everything from recipe development to restaurant reviews into their online space. The question comes up: With as many TikTok stars as celestial bodies, how do you manage to shine bright in all the light pollution?

For Noah Morayniss – known as Goodboy Noah on all social media platforms – the answer came in the form of a pounding, seething, occasionally foul-mouthed cheetah puppet.

Morayniss, 30 (“a young 30,” he says), has 1.6 million followers tick tock and another 805,000 further Instagram. The hook of the report is immediate: a series of one-minute original musical compositions in which Morayniss and his partner – a puppet named Cheetah, more on him in a moment – prepare recipes like Granny Smith apple pie and challah from scratch in a small eat-in kitchen. The dishes they prepare are accessible and fun, from homemade bagels to chocolate chip banana bread, based on a not-too-serious approach to online cooking that eschews formality and traditional recipes in favor of beats, rhymes and punchlines.

Noah sings the hooks in a blue-eyed soul falsetto; Cheetah raps the verse in a confident PG-13 baritone. Trying to describe the spectacle is akin to writing a paragraph about the red-tinged wobble of Mars visible on a cool, clear night, so talk about it all you want, but there’s nothing Nicer than taking a look yourself.

@goodboy.noah This bread makes bananas #bananabread #rnb ♬ Original sound – goodboy noah

Like many content creators who enjoy a massive following on social media, this wasn’t Morayniss’ initial plan. Born in Toronto, raised in West LA (his father is entertainment executive John Morayniss), he spent much of his twenties making his mark as a recording artist. “I knew I wanted to make music and I love R&B,” he tells me, “but I just floated a little bit. The advertising side of the business made me unhappy. But then I started talking to Cheetah and we agreed to do some fun cooking videos where we sing and rap.”

This point in the story requires some clarity. Though visibly a puppet — Cheetah looks a bit like a spotted version of Shari Lewis’ lamb chop — Morayniss insists throughout our interview on Cheetah as a living being and indeed as a full and equal partner in both content production and performance describe. When asked what inspired him to make cooking videos with a doll, for example, Morayniss was quick to respond: “What do you mean by ‘doll’?” The rhetorical move was meticulously maintained throughout the interview and proved surprising by the end effective — I started referring to Cheetah as his peer and briefly stopped asking for a rights breakdown and license attribution.

The success of Noah and Cheetah was immediately noticeable with 240,000 likes and more than 3,000 comments from the first video first collaboration In early 2022, a fluffy omelet how-to with rhymes like “Just crack three eggs in the bowl, put a little butter in the pan, heat it up on medium.” The video has now been viewed more than a million times, surpassed by follow-ups homemade sushi, steakAnd Miso Glazed Salmon. “Justin Bieber shared the salmon video on TikTok,” Morayniss recalled, “and Snoop Dogg shared that Video Banana Bread on his Instagram page.” This particular clip marks something of a turning point in Noah and Cheetah’s growth, a staggering 1.8 million likes for a one-minute video with lines like, “We need some flour my friend, then you stir knead the dough until it is silky smooth.”

@goodboy.noah I knead these bagels, they are everything to me #bagels #ayocheetah #rnb ♬ Original sound – goodboy noah

The duo’s acceptance in the music community has been impressive — Raekwon (a Wu Tang Clan rapper a.k.a. “The Chef”) is Drop fire emojis in the comments— but it’s these videos’ approach to home cooking that I find particularly compelling. Humor, hilarity, and the ability to make your audience smile are underappreciated tools in the food content arsenal; We forget such things in the mists of history, but some of the earliest famous food personalities, from Julia Child to Martin Yan and James Beard, were often hilarious and often expressed themselves through their cooking in unexpected ways. “I’m actually a bad cook,” Morayniss says, leaning back on the concept, “but Cheetah’s a great cook — he’s the master chef.”

The recipes provided on @goodboy.noah are free of many of the trappings of traditional food tutorials (such as how much flour to use in the bagels), which Morayniss sees as conflicting with the limitations of TikTok as a platform. “Sometimes it’s just hard to put all that stuff in the lyrics,” he says, laughing. “It’s hard to keep it under a minute and have everything flowing when you have to measure everything. You can’t fit every little thing into the lyrics.”

That’s not stopping fans from cooking at home with Noah and Cheetah and tagging the account in their attempts to recreate dishes like lasagna, macaroni and cheese, and churros — “the high-carb dishes are the most popular,” says Noah . With our modern world being what it is, it didn’t take long for brands to call, and the account has now featured sponsored content collaborations with the likes of Tillamook, Maruchan Ramen, Sweetgreen, and Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings. “We approach these things the same way we approach any video,” says Morayniss on behalf of his creative partner. “Our relationship is quite unintentionally perfect for promotion because Cheetah teaches me everything and recommends stuff and I’m just like, ‘Yeah, that’s cool!'”

Creating content for the platform is now Noah Morayniss’ full-time job, and he is represented by 3 Arts Entertainment, a Beverly Hills-based talent management and production company. The account offers merchandise for sale (including shirts, hoodies, mugs, and a Cheetah-brand hot sauce that comes in Hickory Smoked or Classic Chipotle), as well as full-length songs that push TikTok’s time limits. (The first of entitled “Ayo”, Discontinued at the end of February.) The duo have met with literary agents to discuss a cookbook and come up with a concept for a TV show.

But the question that everyone keeps asking – from quest love Deciphering thousands of individual comments in dozens of videos — is an easy question, and I had to ask it myself towards the end of our conversation, although I felt a bit guilty like I was knowingly ruining the part. Who is the voice of Cheetah?

“Why do people keep asking me that question?!” You can feel the conversation rising, a tone of barely contained indignation in Noah Morayniss’ reply. “It’s like asking who will do the voice for me! Why do people think we’re dubbing his voice?”

I’m approaching my follow-up cautiously — I don’t want to soil Cheetah — but people have always been interested in such things. Frank Oz and Jim Henson famously performed Bert and Ernie as an extension of their lifelong creative collaboration; Paul Reubens drew on LA-area comedians for the multimedia clique of in the 1980s Pee-Wee’s playhouse; the dolls on Crank Yankers were voiced by everyone from Biz Markie to Sarah Silverman. It’s a pretty natural question to ask – there’s a reason people want to know, especially when we get into the content.

“I understand all that,” says Morayniss, and thinks for a moment. “But they’re all just puppets. What does this have to do with my friend Cheetah?”

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