Lynn Yamada Davis, an influencer whose zany cooking tutorials drew the admiration of millions on her TikTok account Cooking With Lynja, died on Jan. 1 at Riverview Medical Center in New Jersey, the New York Times reports. She was 67.
Her cause of the death was esophageal cancer, Davis’ daughter, Hannah Mariko Shofet, told the Times. The beloved social media star had been fighting the disease since before the start of her TikTok career in 2019, according to Forbes, who included Davis on its “50 under 50” list in 2022.
Davis’ TikTok career began during the pandemic when she partnered on a set of cooking tutorial videos with her youngest son, Tim Davis, 27, in the hopes of honing his cinematography skills. That signature style, with quick cuts and floating edits of Davis, was on prominent display in every Cooking With Lynja video.
Her son told the Times he wanted to make the videos to learn his mom’s recipes and create a “time capsule” of moments spent with her.
On Jan. 12, he posted a TikTok confirming her death and sharing pictures of her life with her fans, saying, “Her final moments were super peaceful, and thankfully she was surrounded by the people she loved most: her friends and family.”
Davis’ first TikTok to hit over a million views was posted on June 26, 2020 and showed her making a bacon, egg and cheese in a way her fans described as “charismatic” and “grandmotherly.”
Lynja, as Davis became known mononymously online, was adored for her quirky personality and dance moves in her innuendo-filled cooking tutorials, which ranged from Philly cheesesteaks to sauteed squash. She garnered over 17 million followers on TikTok, over 2 million on Instagram and over 9 million on YouTube. In 2022, she won two Streamys in the Editing and Food categories.
Davis was also known for her frequent collaborations with former “MasterChef” finalist Nick DiGiovanni, who also has built a substantial following on social media.
In August 2022, DiGiovanni and Davis broke the Guinness World Record for the most fast food restaurants visited in 24 hours. The pair also achieved two other records, creating the World’s Largest Cake Pop and the World’s Largest Chicken Nugget.
On Jan. 12, DiGiovanni memorialized Davis on TikTok, sharing images of the pair from their time together.
“I’ll always remember her as the woman who fought off her cancer diagnosis for as long as she could humbly and quietly without ever complaining until it got the best of her,” says DiGiovanni.
Davis’ son Tim says he will continue to upload Cooking with Lynja videos recorded before her death — like a recent video of her and DiGiovanni going truffle hunting and making pasta. Once the last video is uploaded, he says the account will stop posting.
Davis was a third-generation American with four Japanese grandparents. She graduated from MIT with a degree in civil engineering before earning her master’s degree in business administration and public health from Columbia University’s Business School. Davis spent her career working for the federal government and at AT&T Labs for 29 years before her post-retirement stint as the “internet’s grandma,” as her fans frequently called her.
She is survived by her second husband, Keith Davis; her sons, Tim and Sean Davis; her daughters, Hannah Mariko Shofet and Becky Steinberg; her two siblings, Jay Yamada and Karen Dolce Yamada, and two grandchildren.
“So glad that you guys all got to experience how wonderful of a person she was, and how you guys treated her so well,” Tim says in his TikTok tribute. “So thank you for the last couple years. We had so much fun making videos.”