From leaking the McDonald’s McRib recipe to somehow making nachos macro-friendly, Calvin (@cooklikeimbook on TikTok) has been making it easier than ever to stay in control of your diet by coming up with plenty of delicious macro-friendly recipe option, and built a massive community along the way!
While Calvin’s cooking it up today, he got his start in the gym and on the basketball court, not in the kitchen. He went to school for exercise science and was a semi-pro basketball player in college. After practices, Calvin would help his mom in the kitchen, and when college came around he made an effort to eat healthier by cooking for himself, which resulted in plenty of self-teaching and trial and error. Combine this with a love for cooking for friends and you have the beginnings of Calvin’s culinary skills, but up to this point, it hadn’t been something he was trying to monetize. When COVID came around, basketball wound down, and there was a 9-month period where Calvin was unemployed and his main source of income was teaching kids to cook online. This period was also when he dialed in on his skills and technique, as well as when he put up his first bit of content! When Calvin put up his first piece of content, the reasoning was pretty simple- he was running this cooking page for kids, so he might as well show everyone else what he was cooking as well.
As is true for many in today’s viral social media age, Calvin’s rise came out of nowhere. He was in a weight loss phase and was just posting about the things he was making. On a Tuesday night back in February 2021, he went to bed, then woke up to 20k+ notifications on his phone! Calvin’s anabolic Cookies n Cream video exploded and was followed by others like his low-calorie nachos and anabolic fruity pebbles ice cream. There was even a period where Calvin was posting upwards of 3 videos a day for a month straight, which takes a whole different level of consistency. Even through all of that, Calvin didn’t have problems with Creator burnout, which is something he attributes to his 20 years of basketball experience and the fact that he truly loves what he’s doing every day. After he blew up on TikTok, Calvin got flown out from his home in Chicago to North Carolina by the Rush Brothers to be their fitness and diet coach. During that time he kept up on the top-notch content and is now working full-time on content creation, as well as on his other business ventures.
Getting to work on content creation full-time is a dream come true, so how was Calvin able to make enough through his following to be financially stable through social media? In first place is brand deals, where his agency acts as the middleman between him and a brand with a great product he can help to promote- usually through a creative recipe. The most important thing for Calvin in these brand deals isn’t the check size, but rather something that’s authentic and helps the brand push its business forward. Another source of income is Calvin’s digital cookbook, which has a hardcover version coming soon! He also has an Instagram subscription you can learn about here, and is always looking to expand into more ways to give his audience value. The biggest drivers here are consistency and engagement. Calvin loves to see people asking questions in his videos, even if the volume gets a little too high for him to handle sometimes.
This is all great, an amazing story with healthy recipes, and a good community, but why? What’s the thing that drives him to be successful? For Calvin, it’s about family, friends, and his community. It’s about being able to give back to those who helped him when he was struggling and paved the way to where he is now. He’s also always loved helping people with their fitness journeys, but as a 1:1 coach, there are only so many people you’re able to help at once, but through social media, he’s able to change millions of lives all at once. This is just the start for Calvin, and he has plenty in store for us in the future, including a low-calorie Korean cookbook to help people be able to eat their culture’s food while on a diet! You can catch him on TikTok @cooklikeimbook and Instagram with the same handle- @cooklikeimbook.