I chance upon this reel on my Instagram feed. It’s a lady showing me how to make a bowl of ramyun better than it does out of the packet. Her cuts are quick, her banter snappy, her one-liner zingers funny. Halfway into boiling the ramyun, she introduces a cube of Japanese curry roux. That’s normal, I’ve had curry tsukemen at Mendokoro Ramenba and curry udon at Marugame Udon.
Then she tells me to add creamer. Yes, the creamer you stir in a cup of coffee.
What the hell?
But hey, I’m willing to buy what she’s selling because the food she’s made looks (and likely tastes) really good. This witty woman is none other than Abi Marquez, local food creator and self-proclaimed “Lumpia Queen.” She’s won the hearts of short-form video platforms, with upwards of 750,000 followers on Instagram and nearly three million followers on TikTok. This is all through showing countless people on the internet how to cook—mostly Filipino food and, well, lumpia.
Abi Marquez has won the hearts of short-form video platforms, with upwards of 750,000 followers on Instagram and nearly three million followers on TikTok.
It really helps that Marquez is charismatic and genuinely engaging, with a sense of humor she says she doesn’t really know where she picked up. All of this led to the 22-year-old leveraging the success she earned from well-made and entertaining videos into legit support, signing with Kroma Entertainment’s talent management arm NYMA to get rocket-strapped to the moon. This time last year, she had just graduated with a BS Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management degree from University of the Philippines Diliman.
“I’ve been passionate about food for as long as I can remember,” she tells us. “My earliest memory with food is when I was four years old, making orange juice and serving food to our house visitors out of my own initiative. Around this time, I would also cook myself food like fried chicken with little help from my parents—only to open the gas tank. I also remember having tantrums as a child when I was served cold rice with hot chicken nuggets. I was insisting the rice should be served hot (to maximize the eating experience). My family argued ‘mainit naman ’yung ulam ah!’ and I said, ‘eh hindi naman sabaw ’yung ulam!’
“Thinking of it in retrospect, that memory hints how I would grow up with a strong passion and respect for ‘good eating,’” she says. She also recounts how, growing up, she would cook and bake for friends to their delight—not to earn extra money but simply because she just loves cooking.
The rise of Abi Marquez, the “Lumpia Queen”
The start of Marquez’s path to internet stardom happens, as most in the past couple of years have, on TikTok during the pandemic.
Like many of us did at home (even those who wouldn’t admit it) the culinarian originally just downloaded the app to watch videos. Then, like a lot of us also did eventually (even those who still don’t admit it) she started making and uploading videos to her TikTok account.
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It was originally vlog-style, day-in-the-life fare—up until she filmed herself cooking pasta and voicing over it. That video went viral, and the adulation and validation of the process of going viral—and the sheer fun of easily filming and editing on the app—sparked the desire to keep going.
Marquez, who credits the onscreen work of Gordon Ramsay, Joshua Weissman, and Epicurious as her influences, did everything herself at the beginning. She admits she still does everything herself now, something that’s even more impressive considering the support she has.
And now, Marquez is the one and only “Lumpia Queen,” so named because of her daring experimentation to roll a lot of different ingredients and foods into lumpia wrappers.
“The title ‘Lumpia Queen’ was coined by my community when I started doing a series of videos experimenting on different lumpia fillings,” she shares.
Abi Marquez, who credits the onscreen work of Gordon Ramsay, Joshua Weissman, and Epicurious as her influences, did everything herself at the beginning. She admits she still does everything herself now, something that’s even more impressive considering the support she has.
“The very first video from that series is frying leftover marshmallows and chocolate chips in lumpia wrappers, hoping I would achieve a result similar to Jollibee’s choco mallow pie. I was genuinely curious how it would turn out and asked myself verbatim, ‘What happens if we wrap marshmallows in lumpia wrappers?’ I was super excited for the outcome; I just filmed it without much thought. I was determined to post the video regardless if it would fail or succeed. The recipe failed.”
“However, the video got millions of views within a couple of hours and comments suggesting what I should have done differently. I got a sick feeling in my stomach and immediately realized that it was an opportunity to make a video series. I went to execute my followers’ recommendations up until today. So far, I have published around 30 lumpia experiments.”
And the lumpia is a huge draw. They tend to have the most engagements on her accounts, thanks to how intriguing and out-of-the-box her lumpia ideas are. Next to all the lumpia are the Filipino dishes as well as the super exotic (to foreigners) banana ketchup, which draw some natural interest and a lot of questions from non-Filipinos.
Helping people enjoy food better
While creating her own cooking videos have brought Marquez great success, she has a bigger calling in mind—a desire to enhance her viewers and followers’ relationships with food.
“I like to think that my cooking videos can help other people enjoy food better and more frequently by letting people know how easy it is to make food that they love, or sharing tips for more effective cooking that will yield more enjoyable results,” she says.
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“With my recent series on FEATR’s channel, Compact Cooking, I am also able to teach recipes on a budget that can be cooked with limited equipment to dormers or small space residents. With these recipes, I also wish to bring families or people together when they try to cook my recipes and share it with their loved ones.”
And of course, because TikTok and Instagram are universal on the internet, Marquez has an international audience now. She uses the platform to showcase amazing Filipino cuisine—to both foreigners and fellow Filipinos abroad who are likely missing the flavors of home.
But with the success of content creation, which was initially something she was doing with the world on pause, also comes the fear of burning out. Marquez finds the biggest challenge isn’t being consistent with creation but preserving the part where all of this remains fun for her.
“The number one goal is to keep creating videos that provide value to other people’s lives,” says Abi Marquez.
“Monetizing your passion is one of the scariest things ever. Making food videos is now my bread and butter and I have to make sure I still enjoy it despite the growing amount of demands like maintaining multiple platforms, considering the algorithm and the constant grind to create relevant and trendy content,” she says.
“But the number one goal is to keep creating videos that provide value to other people’s lives. I also look forward to creating longer videos and free myself from shortening my food explanations to 60-second videos. Lastly, I wish to collaborate and learn more about food and culture from other creators.”
As far as I’m concerned, Marquez has a huge opportunity to successfully do all of that—with the world, as the cliché goes, being her oyster. The recipe is as simple as starting and sharing what you know with the world.