In Elite Daily's Life Behind the Likes series, we talk to the people you know on the internet to find out who's really behind the screens. In this piece, we get the inside scoop from the TikToker turning Disney movie foods into magical recipes.
TikToker Gabrielle Williams brings your favorite childhood films to life in a way you may never have thought of before. Disney movies are known for their catchy tunes and happy endings, but there’s one aspect that doesn’t get as much notice after the final credits roll: the food. From the beignets in The Princess and the Frog to “the grey stuff” in Beauty and the Beast, the 32-year-old baker and film student takes the cartoon versions of the snacks and turns them into real-life recipes her 1.7 million followers can actually make at home. Williams shares the entire process as cooking tutorials on her @gabby.jaye TikTok account.
Williams, who hypes herself as the “original Disney movie food series creator” in her TikTok bio, didn’t set out with a mission to transport you to classic films through your tastebuds. When Williams started her TikTok account Nov. 2, 2020, all she wanted to do was brighten people’s days. “I was just trying to do something fun, something that would help people feel better about life,” she says.
Williams, a self-taught baker, started by sharing simple recipes like strawberry muffins. “I loved to cook and bake so my content just went in that direction naturally,” she explains. Her early videos have a relaxing cottagecore aesthetic. It wasn’t until the holiday season that her TikToks took a turn toward the movies — which isn’t too surprising considering Williams is a virtual student in digital filmmaking and production set to graduate from The Los Angeles Film School in 2023.
She enjoyed making film-inspired recipes like snowy Grinch cake cookies and butterbeer from Harry Potter so much that she decided to hone in on that a bit more as 2021 rolled around. “I wanted a niche,” Williams explains. “[I] thought Disney movies would be the perfect way to continue the fun year round.”
Williams has been passionate about Disney films for as long as she can remember. “The Little Mermaid is the first Disney movie I remember watching,” she says, “My parents' anniversary is the same day that The Little Mermaid premiered [on Nov. 13, 1989], so it holds a special place in my heart.” (There aren’t any Little Mermaid recipes on the account yet, but you can channel OG Disney faves with recipes like “the grey stuff” and a Jungle Book-inspired banana pudding.)
That excitement for all things Disney translated to success pretty quickly. Williams says the recipe she posted on Jan. 3, 2021, for Kronk’s spinach puffs from The Emperor’s New Groove, was her first taste of going viral. “That one got a lot of views, and I was like, ‘whoa, this is not normal,’” she says. “I really did not know I could go viral like that.” As of Nov. 10, the recipe has more than 637,000 views on TikTok.
The videos are detailed: Not only does she demonstrate how to make the recipe using ingredients like spinach, eggs, and pastry puffs, but she totally sets the stage to transport you to the 20-year-old film. From details like llama figurines, a sign that reads “My Spinach Puffs,” and audio and clips from the film, the tutorial is more of an experience than a simple how-to video.
Williams credits her family and the Food Network for her cooking education. “I always liked to watch my mom in the kitchen when I was younger,” she shares. She became her family’s go-to baker, especially on holidays. When it came to “cooking, cooking,” she turned to TV. “I’m obsessed with the Food Network, always have been,” Williams shares.
To keep the inspiration fresh, Williams watches at least two Disney movies per week. “I rewatch them all the time, even when I'm not looking for recipes,” she laughs. When an idea strikes, whether it be an exact dish in the movie or something inspired by it, Williams plots out which ingredients she’ll need and then goes into the kitchen to make a plan. Generally, her recipes take a few days to perfect.
I love when people tell me they feel like kids again [while] watching my account.
It takes a lot to get the mesmerizing end results. Williams says, depending on the type of recipe, it could take up to six hours to complete a video from start to finish — and that’s if everything goes to plan. Things usually work out, but when they don’t, it takes even more time. “If a recipe isn’t working out the way I planned it, I wait a couple days, and then go back at it,” Williams says. Some of the most popular recipes on her TikTok account include a Ratatouille-inspired confit byaldi (which has over 7.5 million views as of Nov. 10), and Inside Out’s broccoli pizza (which has over 3.2 million views as of Nov. 10).
While most of the dishes are Disney-inspired, Williams also branches out with recipes based on Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon shows. You’ll even find quite a few Harry Potter-inspired recipes on her page. “I just have a ton of different recipes from movies and TV shows,” she says.
As her account has grown, Williams has expanded her services beyond posting the fun videos. She also bakes actual recipes and ships them out to fans. “I didn't always plan to sell — it's just something that popped up. It’s a great way to make some extra money,” she says.
The burgeoning baker also hopes to publish the e-cookbook she’s working on sometime before the end of 2021, so people can share it with family and friends for the holidays. It’ll feature Williams’ own recipes (and isn’t affiliated with Disney), though she does hope to one day partner with the company to publish an official cookbook inspired by her account.
She’s able to devote more of her time to the account after she left her full-time job in June 2021, in order to focus on TikTok full-time. Williams says she hopes to always enjoy running the account. “I don’t want it to ever feel like work,” she says.
Her work is paying off: Williams was highlighted on Oct. 19, 2021, as a Foodie on TikTok’s Discover List, which honors popular TikTok creators from different categories. Williams called the honor “a dream come true” in the published list, adding, “I had no idea of the impact that I’d have on people when I first started my TikTok account.”
For now, Williams is focused on keeping her TikTok recipes fresh and fun for her fans, who she explains are one of the main motivations for her to keep going. “I love when people tell me they feel like kids again [while] watching my account,” Williams says. “That just makes me so happy.” Williams even says she’s had celebs like Lizzo “comment and engage with a lot of her TikToks.” According to Williams, Lizzo told her, “Girl, you are living my dream life.” I can’t disagree, TBH.