TikTok: Katelyn Flood and the Andy Cooks social media juggernaut | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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TikTok: Katelyn Flood and the Andy Cooks social media juggernaut

The concept was simple – make cooking videos for social media.

But the pace their following grew shocked UniSC graduate Katelyn Flood and her partner Andy Hearnden, known online as “Andy Cooks”.

Within the first few months they’d already gone viral with their ‘Hey Babe, what do you want for dinner?’ concept, with a video about roast beef attracting more than 27 million views.

“We were blown away with the response” Katelyn says. “I think it was a concept that many people could relate to, so we continued to make more of them and it quickly built-up Andy’s presence on the platform.”

They’ve now grown their audience to 13 million users across social media channels – that’s more than the 8.2 million viewers who watched the last episode of the hit show the Last of Us.

Their road to success started back in 2020 – where it was ironically born out of misfortune. Living in Melbourne, their lives were upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, putting both Katelyn and Andy out of work.

Taking a leap of faith, the pair moved to the Sunshine Coast – where Katelyn had completed her Communication degree at UniSC years earlier.

“I actually started a couple of different degrees before landing on Communication,” Katelyn says. “I wasn’t a particularly great student in high school – I was kind of average – so when I started uni, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do. It was only after I took Public Relations as an elective that I realised how much I loved it.”

After graduating, Katelyn stopped off in Melbourne before taking a trip around Europe, which was meant to be an extended trip. But, as it turned out, love intervened.

Katelyn’s friend took her to a restaurant where the executive chef personally served their table “this incredible food”. That chef was Andy, who left a lasting impression on Katelyn.

After she finished backpacking, Katelyn returned to Melbourne, where she not only found love with Andy but started in earnest on her career in public relations at a company specialising in luxury brands.

Katelyn and Andy with APAC YouTube team in Singapore

“Starting there was really good experience that allowed me to move into the role that I wanted,” Katelyn says.

“Before long I was working with brands and travelling overseas to events like Men’s Fashion Week in Paris. It was pretty cool and it allowed me to work with great people in media, PR and brand management internationally.”

Katelyn worked in other public relations roles while in Melbourne but ultimately ended up back on the Coast after COVID struck, where she found a job in the UniSC Student Comms and Events team.

At the same time, Andy had been watching a lot of online cooking videos, dissecting them.

In November 2021, with the help of Katelyn, Andy started his own TikTok. A few months later, their posts were already going viral once they landed on the "Hey, Babe" concept.

The quick success meant Katelyn had to leave her job at UniSC – there was no way she could continue managing the incredible growth of the Andy Cooks social media juggernaut and hold down a fulltime job.

So she took another leap of faith in March 2023 and, using her skills in PR and social media marketing, left to help Andy grow their burgeoning empire.

Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of travelling to international social media conferences, collaborating with other well-known chefs, overseas cooking trips and non-stop planning.

They’ve employed staff, entered brand deals, launched a cookbook, and have even started developing a kitchenware brand range.

But Katelyn is taking it all in her stride.

“I’ve just always opened myself up to different opportunities,” she says.

Andy, Nagi (RecipeTin Eats), Katelyn, Chef JB

UniSC Public Relations Senior Lecturer Dr Karen Sutherland says there is a myriad of career avenues for Communication students and graduates to pursue – particularly in the field of social media.

“Social media is such a robust and emerging professional area that I’m never surprised where our students end up,” Dr Sutherland says. “What is most important is keeping yourself open to opportunities whenever they appear – as Katelyn has.”

Media enquiries: Please contact the Media Team media@usc.edu.au