For 10-year-old Jenna Chabuk, what started as a lockdown hobby, got her over 27,000 followers on Instagram in less than a year. Now, her bubbly personality and easy-to-follow recipes have made her a UAE internet celebrity.
As more and more families decided to stay home to avoid catching the coronavirus, in March 2020, Chabuk’s parents suggested she start her social media page to “kill time”.
“I told her (Jenna) that you love food, so why don’t you start a page around it to pass your time,” said Hadil Bakir, Chabuk’s mother.
Soon after, her page started growing.
“I started getting many messages and comments from people who were inspired and said that I was a positive role model for their children,” said the grade four student.
Child cook with a sweet tooth
Chabuk’s enthusiasm for food and cooking is not a new one. According to her mother, “she was born a foodie”.
“Whenever we travel Jenna has always been very eager to try out new dishes and open to trying food even we (Chabuk’s parents) would be afraid to try. For example, she tried sashimi very happily,” said Bakir, who is a doctor based in Abu Dhabi.
Chabuk’s learning about food was not only while touring the world but a basic weekend dinner at a restaurant would also sometimes end with Chabuk talking to the head chef.
“Once Jenna had a dish at a restaurant and told the chef that she wanted more garlic and dressing in her plate, she knows exactly what she likes in food,” Bakir added.
Chabuk’s passion for food got her to assist her mother in the kitchen from the age of six.
The Irish-Iraqi student now regularly posts recipe videos of everything from cakes to quiches.
But desserts have a special place in Chabuk’s heart as the child cook, as her account’s username @SweetToothJuju suggests, has a sweet tooth.
“My favourite thing to make has to be something sweet like swiss rolls. I enjoy licking the spoon at every step,” she said.
Managing a social media following
The response Chabuk's account got right from the start surprised both her parents and her. "We were surprised that her following was growing by the thousand, it was just meant to be a hobby at first.
“She is too young to have her own social media pages,” said Bakir.
Chabuk’s account is managed by her parents.
Speaking about the negativity influencers can sometimes get online, she said: “That’s another reason I manage her account. She is not ready for the negative comments and bullying, we keep her completely away from that.”
The account’s fast growing popularity has already gotten local and international brands approaching little Chabuk.
Talking about how she manages to juggle different aspects of her life, Chabuk’s mother said: “We are just trying to keep a healthy balance between her studies, hobbies and passion for food.”
Currently, Chabuk posts her videos when she finds the time after doing her school work. She usually films on the weekends, which her mother helps with and her father helps her edit the footage.