Ryan Peters’ TikTok account has grown overwhelmingly because of his intricate pasta making videos. The 27-year-old Reading native, now a resident of Lawrenceville, started his TikTok journey by whisking eggs and kneading dough in front of the Pittsburgh skyline on Mount Washington.
Since then, he has made pasta all around ‘tahn: on Mount Washington, in Heinz Field, and at Kennywood. He has even been joined by special guests like Juju Smith- Shuster. Each pin on the map is a part of his TikTok series where he makes pasta in unexpected places.
With mesmerizing videos of farfalles, campanelles, and bucatinis of blues, greens, and reds, he has garnered over 2 million pasta-passionate followers.
Curious to know what else he’s rolling out? Peters has created his own brand and services on his site, Peters Pasta.
We chatted with Peters to hear all about his pasta-tively amazing journey. Below is our interview, edited for clarity and length.
Peters is always proud to represent the 412 (📸: Courtesy of Ryan Peters)
How long have you been cooking? What got you interested in cooking?
I’ve been cooking professionally for about 10 years now. I don’t have that moment where I remember standing in the kitchen on the counter with my grandma or something. I’ve just always wanted to be a chef. My mom likes to show off this photo she has of me drawing pictures of chefs in second grade. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.
What are some of your favorite cooking adventures prior to your pasta making around town?
The majority of my career so far has been on the fine dining side, not even pasta related. I was able to work in different cities and states around the country in some really incredible establishments. I thought for a while that was going to be my career path — owning one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and being one of the best chefs. Then that fizzled away. But for a while, I really enjoyed that crazy, brutal lifestyle of non-stop grinding to be the best. It was fun and I got to experience some cool stuff and meet some really incredible chefs that I look up to a lot.
Take a look at these egg-squisite yolks (📸: Courtesy of Ryan Peters)
How did this Pittsburgh pasta journey start?
I’ve always enjoyed pasta. I come from an Italian background, but I was never crazy about it by any means. About three or four years ago, I was making a fresh batch of pasta for my wife, and for whatever reason that night it turned out really good and I fell in love with it.
I made a batch of pasta every single night for 64 days in a row. I would go work a 12 hour day, come home, make a pound of pasta, wake up, roll it out, and go back to work. It was just this cycle for two and a half months,but it got me really passionate about it. It was then that I kinda made my decision like “yeah, this is the path in the food world that I wanna focus on and make my mark in.” It blossomed from there and turned into this larger-than-life thing that I couldn’t imagine.
Do you have a favorite pasta shape to make? How about to eat? Favorite sauce to pair with it?
My favorite shape to make is this one right here farfalle, like the bowtie. [Peters has a tattoo of the pasta shape on his wrist.] It was one of the first shapes I learned to make so I kind of fell in love with it. It’s been one that I’ve always gone back to. My favorite to eat is tagliatelle, which is kind of like a fettuccine and my favorite sauce is a classic bolognese, a meat sauce.
Peters’ colorful creations (📸: Courtesy of Ryan Peters)
I know how hard pasta making can be. What challenges have you faced making pasta in these unconventional locations?
It’s not even that it’s tricky, because at this point now I’ve made so many batches that I could do it with my eyes closed. The muscle memory is there so I don’t even have to think about it. It’s now more of the fact that I am going to all of these different locations in Pittsburgh, and now I’m going all around the country to different cities. So it’s a matter of sourcing the right stuff: Finding the right flour, the right eggs, a table. And since I’m doing video content with it all, I have to take into consideration if the sun will be out or not. I have to get the right lighting. It’s a lot more than just showing up and making a quick batch of pasta.
What’s your favorite location so far?
That’s tough. Doing it inside of Heinz Field was pretty fun. I just posted my newest one on Instagram and TikTok with Juju at his apartment complex. That was a lot of fun. Every location is special for a different reason. It’s just so unconventional that every single one that I do adds to it. It’s hard to pick a favorite.
Peters on top of Mount Washington, his first pasta making location (📸: Courtesy of Ryan Peters)
What’s next on the horizon for you?
I have a lot of things going on. The biggest focus is to grow this series of content as big as I can, and hit as many cities, states, landmarks, and stadiums. I first started this series obviously with Pittsburgh landmarks but with the idea of wanting to go to other cities. I was like “I have been stuck in my house for the past year, I want to travel and see places.” So in the beginning, it was kind of selfish, and I didn’t know what would come out of it. But now all these cities, teams, and stadiums are reaching out to me trying to get me out to their cities. It’s turned into this much bigger thing that I am just really enjoying.
What do you do with the pasta after you make it at the locations?
It depends. For example, with Juju, I made the pasta, took it home, rolled it out, made a sauce, and then brought it back to him that night. But for some of them, it just doesn’t work out. Like the one for the Penguins, the day that we filmed that it was like 102 degrees outside. Sometimes the videos take a while, just trying to get all the right shots. By the time we were done, that batch of pasta was just shot. It just depends.
As a Pittsburgher, what’s one of your favorite Pittsburgh places to grab some dinner?
Ooooh that’s so tough. Everyone always asks me that, and there are so many great restaurants. Bar Marco is one of my favorites in the Strip. And then across the street, DiAnoia’s Eatery is fantastic. Those are two favorites.
How about your favorite Pittsburgh pastime/activity?
I am a big sports fan. So probably going to any of the sporting events whether it be Pirates, Penguins, or Steelers. Obviously right now the Pirates aren’t doing too hot this year or in general. I still just enjoy the atmosphere of Pittsburgh sports culture and being around everything. Being at PNC Park on a Sunday afternoon is a perfect summer day.