Meet the Pittsburgh TikToker making pasta all around ‘tahn
Ryan Peters’ TikTok account has grown significantly due to his intricate pasta making videos. The Reading native, 27, now a resident of Lawrenceville, started his TikTok journey beating eggs and kneading dough past the Pittsburgh skyline on Mount Washington.
Since then he has been making pasta all around ‘tahn: on Mount Washington, in Heinz Field, and to Kennywood. He was even joined by special guests like Juju Smith – Shuster. Each pin on the map is part of its TikTok Series where he makes pasta in unexpected places.
With fascinating videos of farfalles, campanelles and bucatinis of blues, greens and reds, he gathered more than 2 million passionate pasta followers.
Curious to know what else he has to offer? Peters has created his own brand and services on his site, Pasta Peters.
We chatted with Peters to find out all about his past-amazing trip. 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 made you interested in cooking?
I have been cooking professionally for about 10 years now. I don’t have that moment when I remember standing in the kitchen on the counter with my grandma or anything like that. I always wanted to be a chef. My mom likes to show off this pic she has of me drawing chefs in second grade. It’s all I ever wanted to do.
What are some of your favorite culinary adventures before you make your pasta in town?
Most of my career so far has been in food, not even pasta. I have been able to work in different cities and states across the country in some truly amazing establishments. I thought for a while that this would be my career path – owning one of the 50 best restaurants in the world and being one of the best chefs. Then it flew away. But for a while, I really enjoyed this crazy, brutal lifestyle of nonstop grinding to be the best. It was fun and I got to discover some cool stuff and meet some really amazing chefs that I really admire.
Take a look at these squisite egg yolks (📸: courtesy of Ryan peters)
How did this pasta trip to Pittsburgh start?
I have always loved pasta. I come from Italian descent, but I’ve never been crazy about it. About three or four years ago I was making a new batch of pasta for my wife, and for some reason that night it turned out to be really good and I fell in love with it.
I made a batch of pasta every night for 64 days in a row. I would go to work 12 hours a day, come home, make a pound of pasta, wake up, unroll it, and go back to work. It was just this cycle for two and a half months, but it really got me excited. That’s when I kind of made my decision like “yes, this is the path in the food world that I want to focus on and make my mark.” It blossomed from there and morphed into this larger than life thing that I couldn’t imagine.
Do you have a favorite pasta shape to make? How about eating? Favorite sauce to go with it?
My favorite shape to do is this farfalle one here, like the bow tie. [Peters has a tattoo of the pasta shape on his wrist.] It was one of the first shapes I learned to do, so I fell in love with it. This is the one I have always returned to. My favorite dish is the tagliatelle, which looks a bit like fettuccine and my favorite sauce is a classic bolognese, a meat sauce.
Peters’ colorful creations (📸: courtesy of Ryan peters)
I know how difficult making pasta can be. What challenges did you face making pasta in these unconventional places?
It’s not even that it’s tricky, because at this point now I’ve done so many lots that I could do it with my eyes closed. The muscle memory is there so I don’t even have to think about it. Now it’s more of the fact that I’m going to all these different places in Pittsburgh, and now I’m going all over the country to different cities. It is therefore a question of finding the right material: finding the right flour, the right eggs, a table. And since I’m doing video content with all of this, I have to consider whether the sun will be out or not. I have to have the right lighting. It’s more than just showing up and making a quick batch of pasta.
What’s your favorite place so far?
It’s hard. Doing it inside Heinz Field was pretty fun. I just posted my latest on Instagram and TikTok with Juju in his apartment complex. It was very fun. Each location is special for a different reason. It’s so unconventional that everything I do adds to it. It’s hard to pick a favorite.
Peters atop Mount Washington, his premier pasta-making location (📸: courtesy of Ryan peters)
What’s next on the horizon for you?
I have a lot of things going on. The main goal is to make this content series as big as possible and reach as many cities, states, monuments and stadiums. I first started this series obviously with monuments from Pittsburgh but with the idea of wanting to go to other cities. I was like, “I’ve been stuck in my house for a year, I want to travel and see places.” So at first it was a bit 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 in their cities. It’s become a much bigger thing that I really appreciate.
What do you do with the pasta after you have prepared it on the premises?
It depends. For example, with Juju, I made the pasta, I brought it home, I unrolled it, I made a sauce, then I brought it back to him that evening. But for some of them, it just doesn’t work. Like the Penguins, the day we filmed it was 102 degrees outside. Sometimes the videos take a while, you just have to try and get all the good photos. By the time we were done, that batch of pasta had just been slaughtered. It just depends.
As a Pittsburgh resident, what’s one of your favorite places in Pittsburgh to dine?
Ooooh it’s so hard. Everyone always asks me this, and there are so many great restaurants. Marco Bar is one of my favorites on the Strip. And then across the street DiAnoia’s restaurant is fantastic. They are two favorites.
How about your favorite hobby / activity in Pittsburgh?
I am a huge sports fan. So probably go to one of the sporting events, be it Pirates, Penguins or Steelers. Obviously, right now the Pirates aren’t getting too hot this year or in general. I always enjoy the atmosphere of Pittsburgh sports culture and being around it all. Being at PNC Park on a Sunday afternoon is a perfect summer day.