How one TikTok food critic changed the lives of many


Erika Hernandez

Screenshot of Keith Lee’s TikTok channel, @keith_lee125, which currently has 11.4 million followers.

Erika Hernandez, Managing Editor

As TikTok continues to become more popular as the years go by, even with the current controversy,  more creators have started to come up with their own unique and niche video ideas. From mukbangs to makeup tutorials, TikTok has become an incredibly diverse platform with hundreds of content creators making a brand for themselves. One of the more popular and notable genres that has started to trend on the app is food reviewing. Multiple creators have hopped on the food critic bandwagon adding their own special flare when making their videos. For example, there’s popular TikTok user @how.kev.eats who has a whopping 2.9 million followers as of March 2023 who’s infamous for his shtick of never giving any meal a 10/10. There’s also spontaneous users like @lakieats, also known as Malak, who became popular after having multiple videos of her go viral for trying Indian food, with her most viewed video of the cuisine at 7.5 million views and 1.2 million likes. 

However, there is one special food reviewer whose fame is currently skyrocketing as he is known for being vessel for small businesses: Keith Lee. Keith Lee, @keith_lee125 on TikTok, is a 26 year old, married father of two, former MMA fighter, who struggled with finances before his social media fame. Lee started his TikTok as a way to help his social anxiety and to make reviews of his wife, Ronnie’s, favorite meals when she was pregnant with their youngest daughter. As his days on the app went by, he started reviewing different restaurants around Las Vegas and that’s when the views and likes started coming in hot. TikTok users all over the globe were infatuated and intrigued by his real reviews of restaurant food, no matter what type of business it was. People appreciated his honesty and some commenters even started saying that they won’t trust a single food review unless it’s from Keith. As Lee’s followers began to increase, he began to make more videos reviewing small underrated restaurants, hoping to make a difference in their sales and popularity. Keith did more than just that. 

Earlier this year, Lee made a TikTok review of Frankensons, a struggling local pizza place in Las Vegas, expressing that their food was some of the best in the city, despite the restaurant having no customers at the time the video was posted. Lee also praised the owner’s kind hospitality towards him and how outgoing Frank was despite his situation. The owner, Frank Steele, had absolutely no idea that one four minute video would change his life forever. After Lee’s food review was posted, hundreds of supporters decided to take his word and visit Frankensons themselves, some even traveling from other states. 

“Our phone never stopped ringing… It’s been a blessing. This restaurant has been a dream of mine for thirty years. This has been life changing,” said Steele in an interview with KTNV. After the massive love the restaurant received, Keith made a follow up video explaining his awe and appreciation for Frank, and how he is constantly grateful for giving small business owners an opportunity that they deserve. 

My mom called me the other day and was saying how it was so packed at the restaurant, we had so much business!

— Irene Kim

The Frankensons miracle is only one of many small business upbringings Lee has been able to be a part of. Recently, Sushi and Joy, a local sushi restaurant in Las Vegas, also shared their own experiences after Keith’s touching review of the delicious Asian cuisine and how the owner was a sweetheart. “I’m really glad that he enjoyed the food and that people on the Internet are really, really supporting our business and saying a lot of positive things. It does mean so much to our business,” said Irene Kim, the daughter of the owner at Sushi and Joy, in a follow up video after Keith’s review of the restaurant went viral.

Not only did Keith Lee change so many lives through his videos, his life was changed drastically as well. Lee expressed in an Instagram Reel in February about how starstruck he felt getting to meet the people he’s been looking up to for a long time. “My life and my family’s life have been changed forever and I am forever grateful… I met people I never thought I’d meet a day in my life! My feet are grounded, I am me, I am always thankful,” Lee says in the video. “God is amazing.”

As Lee’s support continues to grow, so do his opportunities to bless other people and to grow as a person himself. As of now, he currently made a deal with Mr. Beast, made a video moving out of his current home, has a Chipotle meal named after him for popularizing the famous Keithadilla, has his very own “Chipotlee” sign outside of an establishment in Las Vegas, is featured on Kevonstage’s podcast, and had many more amazing encounters with media outlets and people he looks up to. Keith Lee is just one of many examples of how one viral video, one person with a platform, can change the trajectory of someone’s life forever. The positive impact he’s made just for running his account has made an even bigger impact to create miracles for others.