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“VIP List”: Meet the TikTok duo leaning into toxic personas for the lolz

“Sometimes you just have to fuck it and spend $125 on burrata,” the voice taunts over a slow-mo cheese train. It’s a review of Saint Theo’s, a trendy Manhattan restaurant, but the food is far less memorable than the narrative: “Yeah, that piece of cheese was more than my electric bill this month, and me am cry about it.”

If you’ve been on TikTok at all in the last year, you’ve probably seen the VIP list, aka Meg Radice and Audrey Jongens, two restaurant critics who have amassed almost 400,000 followers with their hyper-aggressive, up-and-coming food content. Former high school besties Radice and Jongens left their careers in finance and hospitality, respectively, after making it big on TikTok. They began posting old reviews of nightclubs during the Covid-19 lockdown, then shot videos about New York’s “bougie” food stalls.

Almost immediately, her content and voiceovers, which Radice describes as “Stefan crossed with Regina George,” struck a chord with viewers, though not necessarily in a positive way. Many accused her of running amok with Daddy’s plastic, so the duo acted out their fake rich girl roles, posting tongue-in-cheek reviews of franchises like Olive Garden (“La Oliv-a Gardino‘) while continuing to cover exclusive spots and strike brand deals with Bloomingdale’s and GrubHub. Next up are custom VIP list experiences, expanding out of New York, and maybe — if things go well — reality TV.

How did you decide? to conquer the market with “bougie” foods?

Jongens: We both already had a passion for going to beautiful places.

Mega Radice: We did pizzerias. We made Papaya Dog. We did McDonald’s. But for some reason the nice restaurants always do better because they’re harder to reach and people want to know what it’s like to dine there. At the end of the day we honestly did it for the view.

How did you find out that you were pulled on TikTok pretty thoroughly?

Radical: How people hated us?

Yes, exactly.

Jongens: The duets threaten our lives, that was probably a good indication.

Radical: Our entire notification area at this point was made up of hate comments. And it still happens. People still don’t like us. What will you do?

Jongens: It keeps the engagement going.

@theviplist

Restaurant Reviews: Cacio e Pepe #italian #nyc #cacioepepe #pasta #cheese #meatballs

♬ Original sound – Meg Radice & Audrey Jongens

What was the meanest comment you’ve ever received?

Jongens: They find us and slit our throats.

Radical: That was a voice message someone sent us. That was pretty bad.

Jongens: We got a bomb threat. We were also told that someone couldn’t wait to see us hanging in the village square and everyone will be delighted.

Why do you think people react to your content with such irritation?

Radical: What people don’t understand is that what you see online is 100 percent scripted. It’s a character, it’s satire. Obviously we don’t walk around New York City calling people farmers. It’s a joke. And it really triggers people. Also, we’re two women and people really love tearing down women who are doing fine.

Jongens: Especially when they see us eating at all these nice places, they want to show up in the comments and basically discredit the fact that we could possibly ever do this ourselves without a man paying for our meals.

HHow would you describe the characters you play and how do they differ from your actual personalities?

Radical: My character is Stefan from SNL crossed with Regina George. That’s the aesthetic I’m aiming for. How Stefan always knows the best spots – like “here a person dressed as a traffic light is serving you a drink”. I just found it really fun and camp.

So at what point were you just like, are we really going to lean into that role?

Jongens: Someone made a parody video at [the East Village bistro] Lucien. We got all this hate from it. And so we thought fuck it, we get so much exposure to this, we might as well just move on.

Radical: The parody of us did so well. We thought, “What? This girl gets so many views from being absurd? We should be absurd and get the views.

It seems like people are reacting much more positively now. Like people have a better understanding now that you guys are involved in the joke. If this is the case?

Radice:That’s definitely true. People really learned that we’re involved in the joke, and some people even commented, “Ugh, I’m so pissed, they’re in now.” It’s honestly really nice to have something like a positive comments section now to have.

Jongens: We also tried to do more personality content. We tried to let people know that everything is scripted and we’re not mean personally.

https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/tiktok-food-blog-vip-list-interview-1342004/ “VIP List”: Meet the TikTok duo leaning into toxic personas for the lolz

Brian Lowry

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