Last Friday, Felicia O’Dell, the South Los Angeles-based YouTube sensation better known by the name Auntie Fee, died following a heart attack. She was 59. She blazed to fame three years ago with a video posted by her son, “Auntie Fee’s Sweet Treats for the Kids,” wherein she fried up some crescents filled with butter, sugar, cinnamon, and raisins. She had the vocabulary of a sailor (so, a warning for the easily-offended: the video is filled with profanity), and this was elemental to her appeal. Her YouTube presence pretty much shouted: I don’t care what you think.
I loved Auntie Fee’s videos. Most home cooks you see in the public realm tend to be so self-conscious and scripted; in this landscape, Auntie Fee was a tonic. She attracted obvious criticism: that she was peddling gluttony, fatty foods, that she needed to conduct herself with more decorum. Instead, it’s clear that food, and the very act of cooking, brought her inordinate amounts of joy, and in some of her best videos, she wanted, simply, to please the peopled she loved through her cooking. O'Dell appeared on The Steve Harvey Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live!; she launched her own line of signature spices.
I'll miss her dearly, though she's left us with a lot of videos to remember her by. Here are a few of my favorites.
What's your favorite Auntie Fee video? Let us know in the comments.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.