With a single gray hairstreak, Bon Appétit pastry chef Claire Saffitz has killed a thousand gays — and they couldn’t be more grateful.
Her most recent execution: TikTok star Tyler Gaca.
“Claire, if you see this, I would die for you,” says Gaca, 25, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, in a recent video. With a tote bag masquerading as an apron and a single hair tie, Gaca pulled off a convincing impression of Saffitz, who’s famous for hosting the magazine’s popular YouTube series Gourmet Makes. He did his homework first. “I’ve watched all of her videos, sometimes multiple times. When a new Gourmet Makes episode comes out, I drop everything to watch it,” he tells MEL.
Saffitz is the breakout star of Bon Appétit‘s YouTube channel, which chronicles the daily interactions of editors and chefs in the magazine’s test kitchen. Through a mixture of individual and group shows, the chefs have created a modern-day sitcom that’s attracting an impassioned audience.
Among the cohort, there’s wise matriarch Carla Lalli, intellectual perfectionist (and my future husband) Chris Morocco and certified hunk Andy Baraghani. Saffitz, a deadpan cynic, is unlike any other YouTuber. “When you watch her, it doesn’t feel like you’re watching an internet persona,” Gaca adds. “You find yourself cheering her on, like, ‘Yes! Make those gourmet Pringles!’”
On Gourmet Makes, her solo show, Saffitz painstakingly recreates candies and childhood desserts like Starbursts, Mentos and (my personal favorite) Pop-Tarts. She almost always succeeds (RIP, Pop Rocks). Watching her is spiritual. She perseveres even when the sugar rocks won’t pop.
In a recent Vulture ranking of her videos, writer Louis Peitzman distilled her essence. “She takes a seemingly unsolvable problem and solves it, all while having a goddamn blast,” he writes.
For fans of the show, Saffitz feels like a close friend. Watching her struggle to temper chocolate while recreating M&Ms is a story of epic triumph. Homer and Huckleberry Finn want what Saffitz has.
“There’s something that lets you feel wildly cathartic while watching her,” Spencer Alton, a fan from Boston, says. “It’s the same feeling you get helping a friend get through a rough patch.”
One of the most popular Saffitz stan accounts is @Meme_Appetit. It’s run by Harry Kersh and Will Martin, journalism colleagues in London. Since creating their Instagram account in January, the duo has garnered 170,000 followers obsessed with their Bon Appétit memes. Kersh notes that by far, Saffitz and her buddy Brad Leone, host of It’s Alive!, garner the biggest responses. Their most viral Instagram is a Twitter screenshot ranking mid-’00s Harvard students by their cultural and societal importance. As it should be, Saffitz outranks Mark Zuckerberg.
Sure, Brad is great. He’s like a human teddy bear. A bit bumbling, sure, but always boisterous. But Saffitz, man, she’s who we all actually are: self-deprecating, easily frustrated and always hardworking. “You rarely see him in a hugely challenging situation, and he’s always extremely optimistic,” Kersh says of Brad. “Claire gets challenged a lot more and isn’t afraid to let anyone know when she’s struggling.”
The fanfare around Bon Appétit test kitchen is now large enough that the chefs themselves are full-fledged internet celebrities. They recently hosted a “Best Weekend Ever” retreat with tickets for a cocktail party by Saffitz — costing $400.
While Saffitz stays largely quiet on social media — she’s got an Instagram full of beautiful foods, and we stan a star who keeps it professional — she was informed of Gaca’s TikTok impersonation. “I showed Claire. She loved it. She’s never joining Twitter,” chef Carla Lalli tweeted.
Gaca, who said he’d die if Saffitz saw his TikTok, is officially deceased. He responded from the grave the only way he knew how: by creating a reaction TikTok. “I have an ongoing joke on my TikTok that I’m secretly immortal, but having Queen Claire acknowledge my existence definitely made my heart stop,” he says.