@TheProsciuttoPapi, Spreading Love from the Kitchen

Meet Chad McDonough Jr., aka @theprosciuttopapi, an East Boston native whose love for food and cooking goes well beyond the kitchen. Despite a tough childhood, he has really made a name for himself and now showcases his love for cooking on Instagram, TikTok, and beyond. Read on to hear about who inspired him to start off as an influencer and where he dines when he’s not cooking for himself or his loved ones.

1. Tell us a little about yourself. How’d you end up in Boston, and what inspired you to create your Instagram account?

I was born and raised in East Boston, MA, and graduated from East Boston High. Despite a difficult childhood with many moves, I was lucky to join the military and am now in the Army Reserves. After military training, I briefly lived with my older brother and worked for the USPS full-time. My older brother, the most talented person I know, introduced me to cooking. In the meantime, I met my now girlfriend while out one night and offered to cook for her. She asked why I hadn’t started an Instagram page, but I didn’t think I had the time to run an account while working full-time. Over the next month, she helped me create “The Prosciutto Papi” and I started posting a couple of videos every day. My page gained some major traction and I will forever be grateful for both my girlfriend and my best friend, Tommy Guarino, for guiding me along the way. I’m now cooking for professional athletes and artists at private parties and even recently hung out with Pauly D. This past month, I quit my full-time job at the USPS to really focus on cooking and my influencer work.

2. What makes the Boston restaurant scene special? 

Every restaurant in Boston is special in its own way. Whether it’s American or Italian food, you can go to each place and find something different.

3. Name the top dishes on your Boston food bucket list.

This is honestly a tough question for me as I’d put my food up against any restaurant in the city. That said, my favorite dishes are at Rino’s in East Boston. Everything on their menu is 10/10. I also love Monica’s in the North End. You can order absolutely anything on the menu and leave satisfied.

4. What do your friends and family think of your life as an influencer?

As of 2022, my social circle is the smallest it’s ever been. I often work with my buddy Tommy Guarino, one of the biggest influencers in the city and a friend of mine since we were 6. We do everything together; we’re a package deal. After a really rough childhood, my family is very happy about where my life is now.

5. What’s your food photography/videography philosophy, and can you share your top tips for taking awesome food photos or videos? Do you use any fun tools or equipment for snapping the best ‘gram worthy content?

My best advice is to be yourself. You truly need to love food to do this. I grew up on low-cost meals like cheese and lettuce sandwiches and English muffin pizzas, so what I do now is truly a blessing. I film all my content on my iPhone 13 with a mini ring light.

6. What advice would you give someone just starting out as an influencer?

Be consistent. Everything is content. Utilize natural sunlight and bright colors and be entertaining. Network as much as you can. Attend every event you can. You can’t be antisocial doing this stuff.

7. Which Boston restaurants and chefs are nailing it on social?

Wicked Craft in the North End is one of my favorite new spots. Every week he drops a Sunday brunch video and it’s truly amazing. The owner, Steve, knows how to make your experience 10/10. It’s such a vibe in there.

8. Beyond chefs, what are your top three favorite food Instagram accounts to follow?

My top 3 favorite food accounts are :

Favorite spot that everyone should try once: Galleria Umberto in the North End

Favorite place to splurge: The Tall Ship in East Boston

Favorite pizza joint: Santarpio’s Pizza

Favorite brunch spot: Strega

Favorite neighborhood for food: The North End or East Boston

Favorite spot to take visitors from out of town: The Tall Ship during the summer or TD Garden for Celtics or Bruins games during the winter.

Favorite foodie book, movie or TV show: Rachael Ray. I grew up watching her with my grandmother.

Meet The Tastemakers is a monthly column that shares the stories of those contributing to the conversation on Boston’s food scene.

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