In How I Got My Job, folks from across the food and restaurant industry answer Eater’s questions about, well, how they got their job. Today’s installment: Brandon Skier.
If Brandon Skier knew he was going to become TikTok famous, he certainly wouldn’t have chosen the handle @sad_papi to be his forever pseudonym. “The name was a joke,” he admits, a play on Drake’s @champagnepapi moniker. “I made my account to pass time. I never had any intention of that being my brand, but I started growing and that was it. The handle stuck.”
With zero tech skills and a decade of restaurant experience under his belt, the former line cook and Los Angeles native entered the social media world as a last resort. He’d lost his fine dining job when the pandemic hit and couldn’t find another in the spring of 2020, as restaurants throughout the city were forced to close their doors. But Skier didn’t want to give up his lifelong passion for food, so he started posting cooking videos on TikTok.
Nearly two years later, Skier has amassed 1.9 million followers (known lovingly as his papitas). His tasting menu-style dishes, relaxed approach, and tattooed aesthetic set him apart from competitors on the platform and have landed him partnerships with brands like Hedley & Bennett, East Fork, and Made In. Needless to say, he no longer plans to seek another line cook gig. In the following interview, Skier shares his take on culinary school, his daily routine, and the key to staying relevant.
Eater: What did you originally want to do when you started your career?
Brandon Skier: My dad was a cook who paid his way through college and my grandpa was a baker, so I was just surrounded by food since I was a kid. My plan was always to go into fine dining and open a restaurant. I grew up watching the original Japanese Iron Chef and Gordon Ramsay, so that’s all I ever really wanted to do.
What was your first job? What did it involve?
When I was 15 years old, I got a work permit and I started restoring classic cars. Someone took me in as an apprentice. I worked my way up to become a parts and production manager for a body shop, and I was making a very cushy living for a young teenager. There were nice benefits, but I was behind a desk all the time and I didn’t want that. I wanted to be in food, so I quit and took a fry cook job making minimum wage.
How did you get into the industry?
I always had big aspirations for cooking, but when I wanted to make the switch to restaurants, I knew I wouldn’t get hired at a fine dining establishment. So I looked at Jonathan Gold’s 101 [Best Restaurants] List [in the LA Times].