Carlos Elizondo Frias, 79, spent the majority of his working life running a trucking business in the Mexican city of Monterrey. While Carlos had always enjoyed cooking, neither friends nor family could have imagined the future that lay ahead.
At the age of 72, Carlos was left feeling lonely after the death of his wife, so he made the decision to take a part-time job bagging groceries at a local supermarket in the hopes of making some money and interacting with people.
Carlos spent more than seven years bagging groceries until the threat of coronavirus forced the doors of his local grocery store to close.
After weeks of sitting at home bored, Carlos’s daughter suggested that he start a YouTube channel to showcase his cooking skills – and even though Carlos had no idea what that meant, he decided that it was something he wanted to try to do.
Equipped with nothing but an apron, some well-used cooking utensils, and the assistance of his beloved children and grandchildren, Carlos decided that he wanted to show the world how to prepare traditional Mexican dishes in their tastiest form.
Carlos and his family had no idea what to expect when his first video went live on 24 May 2020, but none of them could have predicted such a meteoric rise to fame.
Carlos, who is now known to the rest of the world as ‘Tito Charly’, amassed over 200,000 views on his first video where he whips up the delicious sausage, prawn, and rice dish ‘chorizo camaron’.
In the space of only three weeks, Tito Charly’s small collection of recipe videos have been seen more than one million times by people from all across the globe and his channel has well over 400,000 subscribers.
Although Tito Charly speaks Spanish in his videos, English-speaking audiences need only to turn on the subtitles and then set them to ‘English’ to unlock the secrets of his mouth-watering Mexican dishes.
While healthy eating recipes and fad diets have become very prominent on social media, it becomes very clear that the only thing that Tito Charly cares about is making sure that his food tastes delicious.
“I add butter not because the recipe needs it, but because I like it,” said Tito Charly in one of his videos.
While he may not be entirely sure why he became so popular online, Tito Charly thinks that a big part of the reason may be the boredom experienced by people in lockdown and the fact that people like the way he talks.
“At this moment when we’re all shut inside doing nothing, I guess to hear this old man chatting and doing his cooking show is charming and something to have fun with,” said Tito Charly in a translated interview.
Although Carlos is the star of the show, producing a ‘Tito Charly’ video is very much a family affair as Carlos’s daughter handles all the video duties, while his grandson assists with technology and marketing.
In addition to the videos, Carlos and his family are also planning to release a range of his own food products (cheeses, dried meats, chorizo) that will be sourced locally and then labelled with the Tito Charly brand name.
What started out as a way to combat feelings of loneliness have quickly evolved into a new career for Carlos, and lifelong friends could not have been more shocked at his rapid transformation into an internet food influencer.
“Where did this come from? They ask me. You were always so quiet,” said Carlos.
“And then I told them, I was hiding it all of this time.”
Photo Courtesy of Tito Charly YouTube page