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TikTok’s ‘Wingman’: Maryland Lawyer Gains Fans Eating Chicken
Victor V. Pham, aka Vick, and fiancee Tammy Bumrerjit recorded their dinner at Nick’s Fish House for his popular chicken wing review videos on TikTok. Pham is the lawyer-turned-content creator behind the series which on July 18, will reach 365 consecutive days of filming himself eating wings. The Marylander attended Glenelg High School and UMBC before George Washington University Law School. He worked at law firms in D.C. and Baltimore, before deciding to pursue content creation full-time. Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS

In video after video, day after day, the “Wingman” chows down on chicken wings — and then rates them on a scale from 1 to 10. He’s tried smoked honey habanero wings in Glenwood (7.1), “nuclear” wings in Odenton (7.8), and honey Old Bay wings in Baltimore (7.8).

“I love chicken wings,” said Victor V. Pham, the 31-year-old lawyer turned social media sensation who grew up in Howard County. “The reason why I homed in on just chicken wings to start is because I wanted to become the expert in the food.”

Foodie fans know Vick for his chatty videos on TikTok (@phatvick), Instagram (@phatvicktv), and YouTube (@PhatVick). He also has TikTok and Instagram accounts for reviewing groceries (@checkoutvick).

On July 18, he’ll hit a milestone: 365 consecutive days of eating — and, importantly, recording himself eating — wings. Along the way, he’s traveled across the country and amassed a combined digital following in the hundreds of thousands, his videos sometimes garnering millions of views.

“The goal was 45 days, because I thought it would affect my health,” said Pham, who recently moved from Washington, D.C., back to Howard County. “I just like connecting with people.”

The journey began last year, when Pham turned 30 and wanted to “start something new.”

He’d made videos before, while a student at Glenelg High School and again at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where he edited rush videos for his fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi. After graduating from the George Washington University Law School in 2019 in Washington, he practiced real estate law at firms in the District of Columbia and Baltimore.

“I wanted to be taken very seriously, so I dropped everything,” Pham said of his shift from video-making to law, though he and his brother, Nicholas J. Pham, had a taste of online success with a finance-minded TikTok account around the time of the GameStop stock craze, in 2021, when he said work at his day job slowed during the pandemic.

This spring, his wing review endeavor well underway, Pham quit his job at Gebhardt & Smith LLP in Baltimore to focus full-time on content creation and handle his own legal work and brand deals, with aspirations to establish a law and consulting firm to represent influencers and brands.

“I’m proud of him for following his passion and taking that risk,” said Anthony Carral, Pham’s former classmate.

Carral, now a corporate attorney in Washington, said he and Pham met in their first year of law school. They realized they were both “social butterflies” who enjoyed hosting parties and formed a study group.

In class lectures, he said Pham was reserved. But Carral isn’t surprised by the path his friend has taken.

“He was always trying to figure something out with social media,” Carral, 35, said. “He was always a food critic.”

In his videos, Pham introduces the restaurant he’s visiting and includes details like the price per wing. Then it’s onto the meatier bits: As Pham digs in, he comments on the wings’ flavor, crispiness, juiciness, size and meat quality, all of which factor into his ratings.

“It just feels like he’s talking to you and having a conversation with you,” said Tammy Bumrerjit, Pham’s fiancee and a financial risk consultant who also grew up in Howard County. “Victor’s a very hard worker. And when he starts something, he’s committed to it and he doesn’t give up on it.”

The couple met at a Fourth of July party over a decade ago, while both were UMBC students. Now, Bumrerjit, 31, shops and cooks with Pham for his grocery review videos, makes brief on-screen appearances and is often behind the iPhone camera filming him — and eating wings herself.

“We’ve always really connected through food,” she said. “It’s our love language.”

Though Pham contends that “there aren’t that many good wing places in the DMV,” he said his favorite wings in Maryland are from The Hideaway in Odenton, which he gave a score of 9.2. The highest score he’s given — a 9.3 — went to wings that were homemade by the influencer @chilipeppercooks.

To find the wings he samples, Pham relies on recommendations left in comments on his videos.

He said he hasn’t tired of eating wings, but his health is something that initially concerned his parents, Paul Pham and Nina Song, who live in Bethesda.

“It’s not natural to be eating chicken wings or fried food every day,” said Paul Pham, a semi-retired infectious disease pharmacist and adjunct faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “After the first month, Nina was on his case to stop.”

Around 200 days into Pham’s wing-eating streak, his dad filmed a video with him, going over his son’s lab results from a blood test. His “bad” cholesterol was elevated, but his “good” cholesterol level was “phenomenal,” his dad said. (Pham said he’s “super strict” with his diet and regularly hits the gym.)

Since his early worries, Pham’s father said he’s seen his son “thrive.” Pham’s parents now sort through wing recommendations for their son and when they eat meals together, they ask if he’s had his wings for the day.

“There’s always reservation in the beginning, because we want what’s best for him. But I think at the end of the day, it’s whatever’s going to make him happy that’s most important to us,” Paul Pham, 54, said. “His reviews are authentic. He’s very passionate. … And when you see him talk on his videos, I’m thinking, “My son is a talker.’”

Once the yearlong chicken-eating streak is up, the Wingman will likely keep indulging — just maybe not as routinely.

“I was basically doing this before the series,” he said. “My go-to appetizer at restaurants was always chicken wings.”

Source: Baltimore Sun