Why Do Men Keep Fingering Food?

For thirst-trap chefs, the line between genuinely erotic and uncomfortably showy is thin, and it’s hard to turn back when crossed.
Why Do Men Keep Fingering Food on TikTok

Food has always had an erotic element. I’m not talking about aphrodisiacs and the idea that some foods make you hornier. I’m talking about the innate sexual suggestiveness and primal energy of something like a bloody steak, dripping ice cream cone, or ripe peach. Cooking is a physical act, joining body and mind, done in service of another person for their fulfilment and pleasure. The risk, however, is that the moment it's obvious this eroticism is being owned and intentionally performed, it's often lost.


Celebrity chefs have routinely utilized sex appeal to an extent. This plays out most often with women in the culinary world, like Padma Lakshmi, Nigella Lawson, Giada De Laurentiis, and even recently Martha Stewart. But except for Rachel Ray’s famous photoshoot in For Him Magazine, that sex appeal and food were never intentionally combined. All happen to be beautiful women who cook. For the past 20 years, the male version of this has been the cool chef, usually a guy with tattoos, a little rough around the edges, just as comfortable with Michelin stars as a can of Busch. Anthony Bourdain is the crown example, while The Bear has served as a contemporary case study. Again, though, the people involved are attractive, and they cook; they do not try to cook attractively. 

TikToks of men, specifically, cooking sexily, highlight how jarring this combination can be. Over the last few years, several accounts have emerged with the obvious and often over-the-top intention of being hot while cooking. They feature men caressing raw chicken breasts, spanking mounds of dough, and even flicking their tongues on halved oranges. 

One creator notorious for this behavior is Cedrik Lorenzen, who posts “recipe” videos several times a week that often amass millions of views. The food, notably, does usually look pretty solid. He usually creates semi-elaborate but still accessible desserts, like chocolate churros or jelly donut French toast. The overarching concept seems to be that a man could prepare these for a date night with a woman. 


However, one would likely have trouble following the steps demonstrated in the video despite him routinely listing out the ingredients and process in the caption. At one point in the French toast video, for example, he draws a few dozen little hearts on the counter in what appears to be strawberry syrup, only to immediately wash them away with soap and water in long strokes that show off his arms. It's apparent that these videos aren’t actually designed to help men prepare a meal but rather to sell the fantasy that men would do this to women. The captions reveal this as well. Above the recipe notes for the French toast, for example, Lorenzen wrote, “Date night dishes that will keep her wet for more.”

Further popularizing his videos are several duets from other creators responding in disgust, frustration and confusion. Lorenzen’s videos are cringe, and he knows it. As he told The Cut in July, “I don’t always get my page right. Some of my stuff is a bit too extreme, maybe a bit too, let’s say, ‘sexual,’ or maybe a bit too cringey.” 

But while there are countless comments, tweets, and TikTok stitches showing that “cringey” is indeed the primary word most would use to describe these videos, there is just as much feedback from women who, apparently, find all this hot. “Mkay, but why did my ankles tingle watching this? 🤔🫣🫠🫠🫠,” one woman wrote in his comments. “Suddenly my marriage doesn't seem so important,” said another. 


This relationship between genuinely sexy and cringe in the food world often plays out much more subtly. Creator @ohmontaine went viral over the last year for his clips dolling out relationship advice and anecdotes while preparing dinner. In them, he stands before his camera, propped up on his counter, and talks as he dices and chops. Most often, he doesn’t even say what he’s making. 

For months, he was admired for his clearheadedness and Jeremy Allen White looks, but his reputation began to turn over the summer. General suspicion of him grew, particularly among other men—they called him a “biggest pick me, where’s-my-hug-at energy” type of guy, a “walking red flag.” In part, this suspicion might have been jealousy. Montaine was (and still is) popular among women and made content with women as his audience. But rather than ignore these comments from men and continue on with his schtick, Montaine decided to respond… with a rap.

“Step one, I never get tired of the hate. You gotta be good ‘fore you ever be great,” his song begins, performed in a video in July. “I know the hate comments only happened cause they board [sic],” goes the next line, lyrics appearing on the screen. He doesn’t quite say “cause they bored,” but rather “cuh dey board,” which many have interpreted as a pun about the cutting board that typically appears in his videos. 


Since then, “cuh dey board” has become the biggest phrase associated with Montaine. If he was getting hate from men before, now he’s experiencing it tenfold. There are dozens and dozens of videos—some of which now have millions of views of their own—highlighting the lyrics and making jokes about it. And while Montaine is still making his typical content on top of occasionally responding to the drama, and even though plenty of women still seem to interact with him the same, his overall reputation on the app has soured: When you search his name, the majority of videos are about the song or otherwise critiquing him. He has, in other words, become cringe, too.

As soon as Montaine acknowledged this whole thing he had going, it became clear that he is doing it for the spectacle. He is trying to be hot. And look, so is most everyone else on the internet, but food isn’t something that requires the extra performativity. Cedrik Lorenzen and those like him could make videos of them cooking normally as their handsome muscle-y selves, and the content would likely be even sexier. It would get to the truth of the eroticism of food in itself. 

No doubt, Montaine is emulating a bit of Bourdain, and surely Bourdain was at least trying (and succeeding) to be cool. But he never made a point of combining his culinary life and his physical appeal. That’s part of why he was hot and why so many men since him have wanted to take on his role.

Again, plenty of women seem to find these exaggerated portrayals of culinary hotness effective—perhaps they are starved for intimacy elsewhere in their lives. But whether it’s these subtler videos of a guy chopping up vegetables or the more overt Magic-Mike-meets-Top-Chef genre, the line between genuinely erotic and uncomfortably showy is thin, yet difficult to turn back from once crossed. In some ways, now that some TikTokers have leaned into it, the once-subtle divide is all the more apparent.