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TikTok’s ‘pasta guy’ serves up a batch of business advice

Ryan Peters has always enjoyed making and eating pasta. But it wasn’t until he became the TikTok “pasta guy,” with millions of followers on social media, that he got to make the dish at the top of the Empire State Building, at the Hollywood sign, and for the Chicago Bulls.

Peters, who spoke to Michelle Kilburn’s business classes on Wednesday, never anticipated that level of fame. Before his TikTok went viral, he was working as a chef at Iron Born Pizza & Pasta in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. 

He learned about TikTok from his younger brother in 2019 and decided to try the platform. He began uploading videos of himself making pasta because of his love for the dish.

“I come from an Italian family and I love pasta. I love the simplicity of it: It usually only requires flour and eggs. But there is definitely a craft to balancing the ingredients,” Peters said.

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“I feel like pasta making has this weird aura of being harder than it is, so I have just tried to bring a sense of fun to it,” he said.

While Peters gained a small following from these early videos, in late 2020 he made one that went viral and made him an overnight celebrity.

“The one video that really changed my life was a 15-second video of me popping egg yolks. I remember I posted it at 9 o’clock at night and when I woke up in the morning, it had reached 12 million views. By the end of October, I went from 300,000 to 1.1 million followers,” Peters said. 

From there, Peters quit his job as a chef to pursue social media full-time. He has now amassed around 5.5 million followers across all of his platforms. He can be found @peterspasta on TikTok, @PetersPasta on Twitter, and @ryanpeterspgh on Instagram.

As a result of his content, Peters has gotten to work with people all over the country and has been invited to make pasta in some interesting locations.

“I’ve now done it in 27 different stadiums, the Empire State Building, the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and in the middle of a Walmart, to name a few,” Peters said.

It’s allowed me to do what I love, but now I’m essentially sharing my cooking with a couple million people every day instead of only 100 people per night in a restaurant.

— Ryan Peters

However, most of Peters’s videos are recorded at his home in a specialty kitchen he made. In fact, his most popular series was one in which he doubled the number of eggs used to make a batch of pasta each day.

“One night, I weirdly only had one dozen eggs in my fridge. I had made a batch of pasta before with one egg yolk, so I thought it would be a cool idea to make a batch using one egg and keep doubling it each day. The video ended up doing really well,” Peters said.

What he didn’t realize at first was that the amount of pasta he would make would be too much for him to handle. So he came up with a solution for the excess: donate it to those in need.

“The ‘Double the Egg’ series led to me making a ton of pasta, which is good for content, but then I would cook and donate it. I’ve fed a couple thousand people in the past few months,” Peters said. “Being able to get a meal to people who don’t know where their dinner will be coming from that day is really nice.”

Peters just achieved his record of making a batch of pasta with 4,096 eggs, and he fed around 1,300 people with it. In total, he has fed around 3,000 to 4,000 people from food made during his videos. Along with this, Peters also donated the egg whites to a local bakery and sent the shells to composting.

Being a successful content creator has given him the opportunity to follow his passion.

“It’s allowed me to do what I love, but now I’m essentially sharing my cooking with a couple million people every day instead of only 100 people per night in a restaurant,” Peters said.

But Peters wanted Kilburn’s students to know that his job is not as easy as it may seem online.

“All you see is the 30-second video that I post. It looks really fun and easy, but it’s so much more than that. The work that goes into it on the back end is pretty astounding,” Peters said.

His typical day starts early and continues into the night.

“Every day from 9 to 11:30 I cold call and cold email a couple hundred brands and teams,” Peters said. “From 11:30 to 7 I’ll be creating, identifying, and preparing content for my pages. From 7 until 11 at night is studying all of the different social media platforms and figuring out how to reach more people with my content.”

Peters does all the work by himself, which includes a lot of shopping.

“When I have to get these large amounts of eggs, people at the grocery store look at me like I’m crazy,” he said.

He gets a lot of feedback for his videos, including the occasional critical comment.

“But for every one negative comment I get, there are 10,000 positive comments. That helps to inspire me and remind me not to let the negativity get to me,” Peters said.

The biggest advice I would give is to have patience and not expect things to happen fast.

— Ryan Peters

Kilburn said she reached out to Peters and asked him to speak to her students after finding his content online. She was drawn to his story and his charitable actions.

“I thought that learning about the platforms he has would be a good experience for my business kids to hear. Not only does he create social media videos, he also gives back to the community. You can tell that he is not just concerned about himself,” Kilburn said.

Peters’s presentation had an impact on the students in Kilburn’s classes.

Junior Binod Ghimirey was impressed by Peters’s success story.

“I like to learn more about other people’s success so I can figure out a way for my own success. Plus, he was a very humble guy, so it was nice hearing him talk,” Ghimirey said.

As for the future, Peters has plans to create his own line of pasta and other ingredients for grocery stores, which will expand his reach.

“If your 70-year-old grandmother is walking down the aisles in a grocery store, and has never heard of me, but is looking to buy pasta that night, then she could buy my pasta,” Peters said.

Peters wanted the students to understand that taking risks is necessary to achieve success in the business world.

“Through making my videos, I’ve learned the power of putting yourself out there and not being afraid of pursuing your passion – no matter how crazy it might seem,” Peters said.

But patience is essential.

“The biggest advice I would give is to have patience and not expect things to happen fast,” he said. “The majority of people that I see try and fail to make it big on social media quit within a week when they don’t see results. If you believe in your business and have patience to put in the work and trust that it will work out, it usually will.”

This story was originally published on Purbalite on May 11, 2023.