Meet The TikToker Cooking Viral Dorm Room Recipes With A Waffle Maker
You’ve seen her videos all over your FYP.
If you’re on the foodie side of TikTok, you’ve likely come across a college student dressed in a fuzzy pink hoodie, making dinner in her dorm room with nothing but a waffle maker or mini griddle. After a video of her making a grilled cheese sandwich in her dorm room brought in over 110 million views and 13 million likes in 2022, Lynn Odhiambo (@africaqueenzz) launched her content creator career. Now that she’s graduated college from UNC Asheville, the 24-year-old with 1.8 million followers may be switching her content up a bit, but she says she’s not leaving her mini appliances behind.
Instead of moving to New York post-college to work a corporate job like she originally planned, Odhiambo is giving content creation her full focus. “I decided for a year that I was going to try the influencer route, and I don't regret the decision,” she says. And while she’s moved on from her dorm room and now lives in an apartment in North Carolina, the TikToker still likes to cook intricate recipes with simple equipment, like one-pot seafood bakes with lobster and an entire breakfast with just a sandwich press. She’s even used her single pot to fry up homemade samosas on the same desk she wrote her thesis papers.
Her followers can also expect to see more lifestyle videos from the creator on their FYP. Now that the Kenya native is going to events like VidCon in Los Angeles to meet other creators, she’s hoping to try out travel content — in addition to dreaming up more viral recipes, of course.
Below, the dorm room waffle maker chef reveals her tips for grocery shopping at college dining halls, her most controversial recipe, and what a day in the life of a content creator is really like.
Elite Daily: What inspired you to start sharing cooking videos on TikTok?
Lynn Odhiambo: I was hungry and craving a grilled cheese sandwich during exam week. I pulled out one of my appliances, made a video, and uploaded it to TikTok. I had no idea that it was going to get as big as it did. I was honestly surprised that people sat there for three minutes watching me make a grilled cheese.
ED: What was going through your head when it went viral?
LO: At the time, I had all my notifications off and my phone was always on do not disturb. I just remember my friend was texting me, “Did you see your TikTok?” When I got back to my dorm after class, I saw I had over 10,000 likes. I was like, “There's no way. I went viral for something so stupid.” I was shocked. I was just watching the video over and over again, seeing the likes and followers go up.
ED: What made you decide to cook in your dorm room instead of eating in dining halls?
LO: The food was so bad, so if I had time on my hands, I would cook. There were good days, but most of the time, I would just get the food from the salad bar and take it back to my dorm to cook it. I would even ask the kitchen if they could give me onions and stuff on the side.
ED: You got your ingredients for your TikTok videos from the dining hall?
LO: Oh, yeah. People used to think it was funny. There's this one cafe that only served pizzas, and if I didn't have any tomatoes for a marinara pasta, I would go down there and be like, “Can you put it in the Starbucks cup?” I would also get plain pasta and chicken breast from the dining hall.
I’d go grocery shopping in separate dining halls and find ingredients that would go together, and then bring them back to my dorm room to cook.
ED: Did people start to recognize you from TikTok?
LO: All the time. During the winter, I wore my pink sweater blanket everywhere, and people knew the only person on campus who had that thing was the girl who cooks on TikTok. When I would wear it to class, sometimes people would come up to me and ask, “Are you going to make anything today? I'm looking forward to your videos,” or be like,“ Oh my gosh, you're the girl who cooks on TikTok?”
ED: That's so funny. Do you still get recognized?
LO: Yeah, surprisingly. The recognition did decrease a little bit, but I was in New York shopping recently and somebody recognized me. I feel like I went viral so quickly that the numbers never really hit me until people started recognizing who I was.
ED: What is your favorite dorm room recipe that you've made?
LO: A one-pot pasta. I got different ingredients from the dining hall, added some marinara sauce, and I popped it all in there. It's a 20-minute dish, tops.
ED: What’s your most controversial recipe you've ever made on TikTok?
LO: The video where I made beef on a mini griddle. The hate it got on Facebook was insane. People were saying that I didn't cook the Wagyu beef right. I'm not going to lie, I thought all meat was the same, but people were saying that I grilled it for too long, and that I shouldn’t have seasoned it. Some people were also offended that I was using chopsticks because I didn't have a tongs, and that was unsanitary. I was like, “I live in a dorm. I don’t know what you expect. I just wanted meat.”
ED: Walk me through a typical day as a content creator. Is there anything that you think that people would be surprised by?
LO: I sleep more than I should. I know you've seen a lot of content creators wake up at 5 a.m. and have a schedule or list of things they want to get done throughout the day. For me, most of my life consists of resting. I make my content at night when I'm more active. After waking up, I brainstorm some content that I want to make by going through my comments section and seeing what people want to see from me.
Then, I go to the grocery store, buy some ingredients, come back, and experiment with how I'm going to record. After recording, I save it in my drafts, do the editing, post it or save it for another day, get my brand deals done, get approval, and then relax. Sometimes, I do all these things in a day so that I have the whole week to myself. Throughout the week, I'm just relaxing and posting from my drafts.
ED: What dorm essentials do you think every college student should have if they want to be able to cook in their room?
LO: A Keurig is definitely helpful if you want to make ramen and you don't feel like boiling your water. It works really quickly. I know some schools are very nitpicky on some appliances that you can have in your room, but an air fryer is also an essential if you can have one. For all the people asking me how I kept the smell of food out of my room, I swear by air purifiers. They really do help out if you plan on cooking in your dorm.
ED: What were your favorite appliances to use for meals?
LO: The sandwich press is useful. A lot of people were actually surprised that you can cook meat perfectly in it, plus it also makes great sandwiches. Also, I prefer the waffle maker over the griddle because it works so fast. You can make waffle eggs, which is the best because it cooks it all the way through.
The griddle does make eggs so quickly, though, and I would cook meat on it to make quesadillas. The doughnut maker was also great, because you could get cinnamon rolls from Walmart, and pop them in there. Those four appliances are really quick and simple. You can throw anything in there, and it'll be cooked in two minutes or less.
Lynn Odhiambo’s Essentials For Cooking In Your Dorm Room
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.