Not Safe For Work But Safe For Lunch
October 1, 2017 2:39 PM   Subscribe

Ms Yeah is often hungry at work but her office lacks a kitchen, so she makes do with office supplies. When she craves for jianbing (煎饼), she turns her computer into a pan. Fried fish? A butane cartridge, some liquid soap and her hand will do (note the FBI warning at the beginning). Ice cream rolls? Computers fans. Barbecue? Neon lamps or electric warming fan. Fancy an espresso? Lightbulbs. And because ’Tis the Season, mooncakes.

Other Ms Yeah office food hijinks can be found on her YouTube channel. Q&A with Ms Yeah.
posted by elgilito (56 comments total) 58 users marked this as a favorite
 
You think bubble blower woman was a terrible co-worker? *rolls up sleeves*
posted by ominous_paws at 3:13 PM on October 1 [13 favorites]


When I worked at a startup (where I could get away with such things) I cooked all manner of elaborate dishes in the office kichenette. Little blueberry pies in the office toaster oven were a hit. Also wild rabbit pot pie with a rabbit I shot myself. Another time I showed up with a wastebasket full of oysters from tomales bay. Fun times.
posted by ryanrs at 3:29 PM on October 1 [6 favorites]


I love these videos so much and I have to go do some stuff so I don't just sit here for the next hour watching them. There's something about the straight-facedness of them (and the fact that all of her coworkers are studiously ignoring her) that tickles my funny bone.
posted by quaking fajita at 3:31 PM on October 1 [12 favorites]


I like how she breakes down the fence in the decorative hedgerow for firewood. A+

At two different workplaces we had competitions on who could cook the most elaborate dishes on the office equipment. Ms Yeah would have blown us all out of the water.
posted by kandinski at 3:34 PM on October 1 [5 favorites]


My office seems to have a competition to see who can reheat the oldest leftover salmon without getting beat up
posted by NoMich at 3:41 PM on October 1 [18 favorites]


These are so good and I just want to say thanks for re-finding these for me
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:44 PM on October 1


In the Ice Cream Rolls video, there is something she puts on the fans, then measures the temperature. It looks like the temperature goes below zero (?). How does she do that?
posted by cynical pinnacle at 3:45 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


My favorite part of this is the premise that it's an office with a fingerprint timeclock that yells at you for arriving late, also an office where you can disassemble your computer and light a fire inside of it without anyone batting an eye.
posted by zachlipton at 3:47 PM on October 1 [22 favorites]


Wait, wait, there was a video about making spicy crayfish in a pop corn popper! Where IS that?
posted by Oyéah at 3:57 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


thereby combining the two office sins of cooking fish & microwaving popcorn
posted by ryanrs at 4:02 PM on October 1 [7 favorites]


Eeeyeaaahh sin is largely a western concept.
posted by Oyéah at 4:05 PM on October 1 [3 favorites]


Also wild rabbit pot pie with a rabbit I shot myself.

Unusual office. How did the rabbits get in?
posted by Splunge at 4:16 PM on October 1 [14 favorites]


From the description of the espresso video: "What supports us work all day? Passion? Perseverance?Love? Family? NOOOOOO, It's COFFEE."

This is the truest thing I have ever read.
posted by AFABulous at 4:19 PM on October 1 [4 favorites]


How did the rabbits get in?

It was an open floor plan.
posted by ryanrs at 4:25 PM on October 1 [12 favorites]


People send their sweeties bouquets of meat skewers in China? Marvelous!

Metafilter: We are the streaky pork sisters. Cheers!
posted by moonmilk at 4:26 PM on October 1 [2 favorites]


1) these are DELIGHTFUL

2) I love her neighbor who is always stealing bites

3) I love that she’s always got some tv show in the background on her desk, it’s so relatable

4) I like to think this is her real office and they support her strange hobby. It has to be, right?

5) MEAT BOUQUETS 😍
posted by jeweled accumulation at 4:34 PM on October 1 [6 favorites]


> My office seems to have a competition to see who can reheat the oldest leftover salmon without getting beat up
Are you a US senator?
posted by runcifex at 4:45 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


> My office seems to have a competition to see who can reheat the oldest leftover salmon without getting beat up
Are you a US senator?
posted by runcifex at 4:45 PM on October 1
[1 favorite −] Favorite added! [Flagged]

Either a US senator or lives in an impoverished section of the Pacific Northwest ...
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:56 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


In the Ice Cream Rolls video, there is something she puts on the fans, then measures the temperature. It looks like the temperature goes below zero (?). How does she do that?

It looks to me like an array of Peltier devices. Keeps one side (touching the cookie sheets) cold, while the other side warms up. The heat sinks/fans then dissipate the heat on the other side. The grey stuff is thermal paste to improve conduction.
posted by btfreek at 5:07 PM on October 1 [5 favorites]


This is the best takedown of lifehacker/pinterest DIY stuff every.
posted by congen at 5:09 PM on October 1 [2 favorites]


Dammit, I want ice cream rolls now.
posted by btfreek at 5:14 PM on October 1


This is really amazing. Thank you for sharing.
posted by neroli at 6:06 PM on October 1


Wait, wait, there was a video about making spicy crayfish in a pop corn popper! Where IS that?


here it is
posted by bunderful at 6:11 PM on October 1


Either a US senator or lives in an impoverished section of the Pacific Northwest ...

Neither. The middle of tech bros RTP, North Carolina.
posted by NoMich at 6:16 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


Unsurprisingly, the ice cream rolls involved video cheating, as you will notice that the production part cuts between closeups and a shot of the trays that carefully did not show the actual yogurt. But still amusing.
posted by tavella at 6:19 PM on October 1


She is so good! I can't stop watching.

I'm going to send these to the chair of our health and safety committee.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:20 PM on October 1


Please tell me the chicken episode also involved video cheating.

cannot stop watching.
posted by bunderful at 6:23 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


i showed some of these to my kids some time ago and we spent most of the time looking at the people in the desks around her - and how well they manage to ignore all of her antics. It's obviously set up, but still... it boggles the mind... in a delightful way.
posted by greenhornet at 7:10 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


It looks to me like an array of Peltier devices. Keeps one side (touching the cookie sheets) cold, while the other side warms up. The heat sinks/fans then dissipate the heat on the other side. The grey stuff is thermal paste to improve conduction.

Came here to snark that not all of us have Peltiers lying around the workplace, just to find I was beaten.

So, yeah, shush you!
posted by Samizdata at 7:13 PM on October 1


I also like the little surreal touches involving her coworkers - like the guy sitting in the fridge in the ice cream video, or the bit at the very beginning of the mooncakes video where the woman sitting next to her pulls out a whole cake (the box for which is later used to boil the yams) and just.. takes a bite... out of the whole cake.......
posted by btfreek at 7:28 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


4) I like to think this is her real office and they support her strange hobby. It has to be, right?


I remembered my disbelief until I read somewhere that they're a creative agency, which I felt, explained everything.

I can't find tht exact interview but here's a couple:
http://ricemedia.co/10-questions-with-ms-yeah-chinas-office-chef-sensation/
https://qz.com/968293/ms-yeah-chinas-newest-internet-star-cooks-elaborate-dishes-with-everyday-office-supplies/
posted by cendawanita at 7:36 PM on October 1 [6 favorites]


Anyway, taking a moment here to note, it's really odd for me to encounter Western opinions about fish being a taboo to reheat in the office. I theoretically understand why people joke about it, but I don't really get it.
posted by cendawanita at 7:39 PM on October 1 [2 favorites]


Aaah! I love these!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:52 PM on October 1


I love her crawdaddy catching stick. I will remember that.
posted by Oyéah at 8:11 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


I thought I was edgy for putting a George Foreman grill in the break room and installing an electric tea pot in my office.
posted by mecran01 at 8:24 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


She does this professionally. I'm envious but I also wonder if internet fame is sustainable in the long run. It seems to be hard work too.

The global reach of a quirky office chef as China’s internet celebrity economy booms
posted by whitelotus at 9:04 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


These are awesome. And she has amazing deadpan.

From the interview cendawanita cites, she's called 办公室小野 Bàngōngshì Xiǎo Yě in Mandarin, which is Office Young Yě. (If your surname is Yě, it's likely you'll be called Xiǎo Yě when you're young, and Lǎo Yě when you're older.) So far as I can see Yě isn't actually a surname; it's probably used for its meaning 'wild, rough'.
posted by zompist at 9:24 PM on October 1


Recently talked to a Chinese colleague. He said at his last job, he was required to be in the office 12-14 hours a day (depending on the manager's mood), and often on Saturdays (with a 1 hour commute too). But they didn't care what he did so he often just watched YouTube videos all day. His wife had a similar job so the grandparents were basically raising the kids. I think cooking with random office supplies out of sheer boredom makes more sense if that's your expectation of work-life balance.
posted by miyabo at 10:02 PM on October 1


From some of the interviews posted, it seems like it became part if her fulltime job to produce these videos, but is not all she does. Sounds like the ideas for the videos grew out of the more typical office cooking sorts of things that have been discussed here in the comments. A weird sort of intersection between real life and artifice. I like to imagine that in the world of the videos, each of her officemates has a weird quirk of their own. The guy in the fridge. The dude steaming his clothes in the corner office. The woman next to her always on her smartphone that occasionally gets treated to Ms. Yeah's dishes. How much is grounded in reality? How much is exaggeration? How much is made up completely? How can I get to watch Shingeki no Kyojin, write Python, and play with a pig at work?
posted by Mister Cheese at 10:18 PM on October 1 [3 favorites]


This is wonderful. she is a combination of Charlie Chaplin's ingenuity and Harold Lloyd's deadpan style.
posted by happyroach at 10:32 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


So far, I've seen Ms Yeah is the only one that changes the water in the water cooler, and the boss' office has been empty the majority of the time.

Seems like a real office to me.

Ms Yeah has a coworker! Ms Do's videos are more DIY office-crafting and not cooking. For anyone that has a crowded commute, her latest video is of creating a durian-based suit of thorns for keeping creepers away.

As for Internet celebrity, Youtube's been running video ads for ~10 years now, and the top ones make serious amounts of money, with top stars making over $10 million/year. For every star that goes viral, I'm sure there's 100's more that don't.
posted by fragmede at 10:39 PM on October 1 [3 favorites]


> Xiǎo Yě
To nitpick, Mandarin sandhi (变调, tonal modulation) shall make that Xiáo Yě, for most speakers.
posted by runcifex at 12:22 AM on October 2


Lady! It would be les time consuming to just bring in a hot-plate! Les dangerous too.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:26 AM on October 2


My reactions to this thread

1. Huh there are people who think any of the cooking in these videos is real

2. Huh there are people who think most of the cooking in these videos is real, with one or two post production "cheats"

3. No one thinks these videos are incredibly subversive commentaries about modern Chinese middle class working life
posted by danny the boy at 12:33 AM on October 2 [8 favorites]


Thank you so much for these. I'm also enjoying her co-worker, Ms. Do, as fragmede noted above. These women have so much up on me for smarts. (In the linked video, Ms. Do does nice things for a stray dog.)

This one of Ms. Yeah knitting noodles is pretty awesome for her snippy dealings with the woman sitting next to her.
posted by bryon at 12:52 AM on October 2


The food looks delicious but the cooking with random office implements and bodged electronics looks worrying so I'm a strange combination of hungry and disturbed.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:21 AM on October 2


ryanrs: "How did the rabbits get in?

It was an open floor plan.
"

For a greenfield project?
posted by chavenet at 2:26 AM on October 2 [2 favorites]


Danny the boy:
1. I don't think anyone is much fooled. If nothing else someone filming it is a giveaway. The question is more is it whether it's a studio production. I.e. are they all actors, or is it a company doing something in house, i.e. they are acting but not actors. The latter is more amusing but probably less likely.

2. I only watched the one, but being a commercial production doesn't inherently mean everything is faked. A few years back a car company built an awesome 100+ foot long Rube Goldberg machine out of one of their cars for a commercial. So I was a little disappointed to see it was staged. I have friends who could do some terrifying things with the contents of an office.

3. That's pretty much what you are left with given the above. It was still entertaining.
posted by tavella at 3:39 AM on October 2


From what can be collected in various interviews:
- It's a real company called Onion Video (洋葱视频) based in Chengdu. Their business is branding, advertising and production of online content.
- Onion Video has been encouraging their staff to come up with quirky ideas. A previous idea that did not work was "telling ghost stories to coworkers". The "cooking with office implements" concept went viral. The people shown are actual employees including Ms Yeah (who did cook food at work, but nothing so elaborate).
- The videos take several days to create, including 1-2 days of shooting. The resulting food isn't great (it's cold).
- The company charges 500,000 yuan (US$73,600) to feature a product in one of the cooking clips. For those who read Chinese (I don't), there some information here about their business strategy and future developments for the "Ms Yeah & coworkers" brand.
posted by elgilito at 4:52 AM on October 2 [4 favorites]


> there some information here about their business strategy and future developments for the "Ms Yeah & coworkers" brand.
Their strategy and future plan is basically "we make funny videos set in what we believe to be themed 'everyday' situations, and we churn them out like a sweatshop factory, and ads ads ads ads addity ads $$$$$."
posted by runcifex at 5:16 AM on October 2 [1 favorite]


No one thinks these videos are incredibly subversive commentaries about modern Chinese middle class working life

Tell me more about this, I know nothing about modern Chinese middle class working life.
posted by bunderful at 5:36 AM on October 2 [1 favorite]


What's happening in the bonus section of the grilled fish video? Is she sleeping at her office? And her office has a pet pig?
posted by tickingclock at 6:18 AM on October 2


Episode 9 implies the pig is the manager of the office.
posted by Mister Cheese at 9:34 AM on October 2 [1 favorite]


Tell me more about this, I know nothing about modern Chinese middle class working life.

Well as a Chinese American outsider looking in (and having only watched the first two linked videos) off the top of my head some interesting themes:

- The similarities between middle/creative-class and traditional factory working life. You cook at the office because you're spending all your time there. There may not be dormitories but you're still sleeping in the office.
- The absurdity of clocking out (via fingerprint) at 5 to go fishing… only to come back to the office after dark, where everyone is still at their desks.
- The black and white employee "uniforms". Again drawing attention to how globalized creative-class culture has become, but at the same time pointing out how fundamentally compatible to Chinese work culture it already is.
posted by danny the boy at 11:44 AM on October 2 [4 favorites]


Tell me more about this, I know nothing about modern Chinese middle class working life.

This is from Chengdu, which is far from the traditional big cities but rapidly becoming a big city itself... Men and women there are rapidly becoming accustomed to extremely long hours in front of a computer as a form of work, but it's still the kind of place where women are expected to do the vast majority of the cooking and other housework, where you can still go down the street and buy a live chicken... the contrast between someone cooking traditional recipes in a traditional way amid the fixtures of a modern desk job is the whole point.
posted by miyabo at 1:35 PM on October 2 [6 favorites]


Tell me more about this, I know nothing about modern Chinese middle class working life.
I don't know anything about this - but can only say I love these videos for their differences from anything analogous we might see in the west: there is the decision to tell the stories without any use of language, there is the fact that Ms Yeah is somebody who shows very serious skills at improvised engineering (I mean I get the feeling that somebody has spent a huge amount of time just working out how a crepe could be cooked using a desktop computer case as part of the research)- but that these are lightly worn in the video. Then, as others have mentioned, there are the gloriously forbearing colleagues and management.
posted by rongorongo at 11:39 AM on October 14


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