It all started with a Food Network star and a way to keep sanity intact.
“I’ve been watching Michael Simon a lot,” said Peter Ambrose, owner of Hamptons-based catering company Events by Peter Ambrose. “He has a very great, casual way of doing it in his kitchen, making very simple and homey types of food. When I saw what he was doing I thought, ‘Well, I could do that.’”
And so, Ambrose gave it a shot, going live on his personal Facebook account, cooking linguine with clam sauce.
“Sure enough, we got a few thousand hits and people responding with what else they want to see,” he said. Friends of his also messaged him with photos of them making the dish or asking for the ingredients.
From there he did a Paella class on Zoom and sourced the ingredients for everyone who wanted to cook it along with him.
“I’ve worked with growers and markets for years, so they were kind enough to put a box completely together for everyone to just pick up instead of scrambling around the grocery stores,” he said.
Since then, Ambrose has posted more videos to his Facebook page, cooking Thai curry clam chowder and a blistered tomato salsa, always with a focus on sourcing as locally as possible for those who want to cook along with him.
“Moving forward, it will be more in line with what we are able to find,” he said. “Like the scallops guy goes out this week. He’s going to notify me when he gets back and I’ve got 12 to 20 people interested.”
Ambrose knows it’s businesses like suppliers that are in need right now.
“Some of these people don’t have a market now because their market was the restaurants, so direct to consumers is pretty important,” he said.
For Ambrose, this started out as something for him to do, a fun way to spend his time and share with his friends virtually, but the response has been overwhelming.
“I open up Facebook and Instagram everyday and I have 30, 40 friend requests, 30, 40 more followers,” he said. “Everytime someone responds, I see them tagging a friend I might not be friends with.”
More than the growing following he is receiving, Ambrose is happy he can bring some positivity into people’s lives through food during these tumultuous times.
“The response has been, ‘Hey Pete, just keep doing what you are doing,’” he said. “It’s less about people creating a perfect dish and more about you just keeping people positive.”
In the future, Ambrose hopes to keep doing what he is doing, creating two to three videos a week, sometimes working with local suppliers to source the ingredients for those who want to cook along with him. And the potential to grow it into something more is certainly not off the table.
“We didn’t start this thinking it could be a revenue stream, but who knows?” he said. “Maybe Zoom classes for 100 people in a couple months might be a reasonable thing to pull off.”