As part of the 50 Food Faves package, PEOPLE named our top tastemakers — including Selena Gomez, Eric Adjepong, TikTok's Bria Lemirande and more — who made an impact on the culinary world with their cooking and creativity in 2022. Meet Lemirande below, and for the full list, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
TikToker Bria Lemirande's videos used to only be seen by her sisters and close friends until a seemingly inconspicuous video of herself using a salad chopping tool blew up. One year later, nearly 2 million followers have stuck around for her casual cooking videos, Trader Joe's grocery hauls and the social media star's sunny personality.
"It is so crazy," the Wisconsin-based foodie tells PEOPLE of her overnight internet fame. "I feel like it happened so fast that I still don't really understand the impact that I can potentially have."
Part of her appeal is that Lemirande's recipes are far from intimidating, as is she. From salmon dinners and parmesan roasted potatoes to overnight oats with strawberry lavender syrup, the influencer walks viewers through recipes with a smile on her face.
"My whole life, I've just loved food and I always loved taking pictures of my food," she says. "I don't know who I'm even doing this for, but I still love taking pictures of my food."
Arguable her most famous recipes of the year revolved around cowboy caviar. The beloved Southern dip is similar to salsa and combines as many (or as few) ingredients as you like, typically beans, black-eyed peas, corn, avocado, tomatoes, peppers and onions, plus a dressing. Her most popular video making the dip currently has more than 17 million views and 2.7 million likes.
Lemirande never claims to have invented the Texan dish, she merely makes it in several TikToks and adapts the recipe for what ingredients she has in her house. Some of the cowboy caviar iterations that Lemirande made this summer follow fans' recommendations to add mangoes, peaches or pomegranate seeds. This flexibility when cooking is something that the social media star maintains for all her meals.
"I feel like that's what is the most fun is just opening your fridge and being like, 'What can I make out of what I have?'" she says. "For a long time, I took cooking really seriously. Everything's got to be perfect. I've got to have every ingredient. But now I feel like I've grown more into a, fake it till you make it — just keep trying it and just keep experimenting with food. See what works, what doesn't. I just love throwing stuff together and making it work, however I can."
Not only do fans watch and like her cooking clips, but they also follow Lemirande's grocery shopping suggestions. TikTok videos showing her favorite snack, Trader Joe's Crunchy Curls, garnered so much virality that grocery stores across the country sold out of the potato-lentil curls.
Among these devout Crunchy Curls fans are celebrities like Madison Beer, who has reached out to Lemirande to share her thoughts on the Trader Joe's snack.
"So many bigger name people will be like, 'Oh my God, I'm so sick of not finding the Crunchy Curls at Trader Joe's,'" says Lemirande. "Madison Beer did DM me once and was like, 'Oh my God, girl, I love Crunchy Curls.' I was like, this is actually crazy, how is this happening? I've been pinching myself sometimes."
The celebrity DMs are a fun part of her fame but the connections she makes with her followers are one of her favorite parts of the gig.
"It's just been cool to connect with different people. Even if we're just connecting over sharing the love for Crunchy Curls, a little simple snack, or just people who have reached out and talked about how I've helped them with their view of food and how they feel around food," says Lemirande, who is recovering from an eating disorder. "Genuinely, these random strangers have just changed my life in the past year."
She is not the only one blown away by her quick rise to fame. Lemirande explains that her friends and family are supportive, but some members of the family required a little extra explanation about her job.
"It's a whole thing trying to explain TikTok to my grandma," she laughs. "She did not understand and was like, 'What do you mean by that? How are you going to make money?'"
"For the most part, I don't even consider it a job," she adds. "I don't feel like I'm working which is the coolest thing ever. I'm cooking meals and making different recipes and just enjoying the little things."