“Sometimes you just gotta say fuck it and spend $125 on burrata,” taunts the voice over a slo-mo cheese pull. It’s a review of Saint Theo’s, a trendy Manhattan restaurant, but the food is far less memorable than the narration: “Yes, this piece of cheese was more than my electric bill this month, and I am crying about it.”
If you’ve been on TikTok at all within the past year, you’ve probably seen the VIP List, aka Meg Radice and Audrey Jongens, two restaurant reviewers who have amassed almost 400,000 followers with their hyper-aggro aspirational food content. Former high school besties, Radice and Jongens left careers in, respectively, finance and hospitality after hitting it big on TikTok. They started out posting old night club reviews during the Covid-19 lockdowns, then pivoted to making videos about New York’s most “bougie” takeout spots.
Almost immediately, their content and their voiceovers, which Radice describes as “Stefan crossed with Regina George,” struck a chord with viewers, though not necessarily in a positive way. Many accused them of running amok with Daddy’s plastic, so the duo played up their fake rich-girl persona, posting tongue-in-cheek reviews of franchises like Olive Garden (“La Oliv-a Gardino”) while continuing to cover exclusive spots, racking up brand deals with Bloomingdale’s and GrubHub. Next up are custom VIP List experiences, expanding out of New York, and maybe — if things go well — reality TV.
How did you guys decide to corner the market on “bougie” food?
Jongens: We both had a passion already for going out to nice places.
Meg Radice: We’ve done pizza restaurants. We’ve done Papaya Dog. we’ve done McDonald’s. But for some reason, the nice restaurants always do better because they’re harder to get into, and people want to know what it’s like dining there. At the end of the day, we did it for the views, honestly.
How did you find out you were being pretty thoroughly dragged on TikTok?
Radice: How people hated us?
Jongens: The duets threatening our lives, that was probably a good indication.
Radice: Our whole notification section was hate comments at that point. And it’s still happening. People still don’t like us. What are you gonna do?
Jongens: It keeps the engagement up.
What was the meanest comment you ever got?
Jongens: Finding us and slitting our throats.
Radice: That was a voice message someone sent us. That was pretty bad.
Jongens: We got a bomb threat. We also got told someone couldn’t wait to see us hanging in the village square, and everyone will rejoice.
Why do you think people react to your content with such vitriol?
Radice: What people don’t understand is what you see online is 100 percent scripted. It’s a character, it’s satire. Obviously, we’re not walking around New York City calling people peasants. It’s a joke. And it really triggers people. Also, we’re two women and people really just love to tear women down who are doing well.
Jongens: Especially when they see us eating in all of these nice places, they want to come up in the comments section basically discrediting the fact that we could ever possibly be doing this ourselves without a man paying for our meals.
How would you sort of describe the characters that you guys are playing and how are they different than your actual personalities?
Radice: My character is Stefan from SNL crossed with Regina George. That is the aesthetic I go for. How Stefan always knows the best spots — like “here, a person dressed as a traffic light serves you a drink.” I just thought that was really funny and camp.
So at what point were you just like, we’re really gonna lean into this persona?
Jongens: Someone made a parody video at [the East Village bistro] Lucien. We were getting all of this hate from that. And so we were like, Fuck it, like, we’re getting so much engagement from this, we might as well just keep it going.
Radice: The parody of us did so well. We were like, “What? This girl is getting so many views off being absurd? We should be absurd and get the views.”
It seems like people are reacting a lot more positively now. Like people kind of have a better understanding now that you guys are in on the joke. Is that the case?
Radice: That’s definitely true. People really have learned that we’re in on the joke, and some people have even commented, “Ugh, I’m so pissed, they’re in on it now.” It’s honestly really nice to have somewhat of a positive comment section now.
Jongens: We’ve been trying to do more personality content too. We’ve been trying to let people know that it’s all scripted and we’re not mean in person.