Photo by Kevin McShane
Wilmington native Betsy Carter savors success as she whips up delicious and unique how-to tutorials on Buzzfeed’s Tasty Food Network.
Born and bred in north Wilmington, BuzzFeed’s Betsy Carter has always had a thirst for all things culinary—but she didn’t come by it honestly. “Neither of my parents cooked much—we ate a lot of Costco dinners,” recalls the Ursuline Academy grad (2009) before quickly coming to their defense: “I’m a twin. They had a busy household. It’s fine.”
Always a fan of food—“especially eating it,” Carter quips—her interest in preparing it grew alongside her grandmothers and aunts who knew their way around a kitchen.
What emerged as a hobby in high school “with a lot of boxed Betty Crocker mixes” evolved during Carter’s college years as she relied on her own cooking skills for survival. Each endeavor stirred more curiosity, and then “I got more creative,” she says. “I started buying cookbooks and researching recipes to challenge myself in the kitchen.” A serving job at Jake’s Seafood in Rehoboth kept that fire lit, then a semester abroad in Rome all but cemented Carter’s career aspirations. “Food played such a big role in connecting with the culture and exploring the country,” she says. “I could taste the passion and love in every dish.”
Fast-forward a decade—four years as a journalism major at Fordham University; a stint at then-Archer Group, where Wawa was a client; internships at ABC’s The Chew and Chobani Greek Yogurt; and graduate school at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles—and she’s the lead recipe producer at Tasty. In four years, she’s shared over 250 fun, short-form videos on social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
Here, she dishes on her big role, best gadgets and even a few bloopers.
How did working in a restaurant help cultivate your passion?
I started hosting and serving at Jake’s Seafood House in Rehoboth Beach during the summer. I enjoyed the hustle, the dining experience and observing what it takes to run a restaurant. I always say, “Everyone should work in a restaurant at some point— the skills you gain [are immeasurable].” I also met my [now] husband there.
You entered the industry as the term “influencer” was on the rise.
When I interned at Chobani, brands were just beginning to utilize social media as marketing tools. I assisted on photo shoots, worked on social media campaigns and grew our partnerships with bloggers. It was super hands-on, and I loved it. When I was at Archer, I also launched Wawa on Snapchat and grew their Instagram audience.
What is Tasty’s mission?
I like to think of Tasty as the perfect balance between education and entertainment. We make recipes fun, inclusive and approachable, but we’re also constantly innovating and surprising our audience. One of my personal missions is to create space for recipes that may not have gotten the exposure they deserve. The Tasty audience is diverse, so I think it’s important for them to feel represented in the content we create.
What does your role as recipe producer look like?
I manage a team of video producers and oversee production of our short-form food content. My focus is on social platforms, as well as Tasty’s website and mobile app. I’m involved in nearly every part of the production process, from ideation to distribution. I love the creative process, and it’s so exciting to bring my edible visions to life alongside Tasty’s in-house culinary team.
What inspires your creativity?
A lot of ideas come from hosting gatherings with friends and family at my house. I especially love food presentation. I recently made a “Seacuterie” board with oysters, octopus, tuna, shrimp, crabmeat— and some pickled vegetables and bread. Fancy desserts are also my jam.
You call yourself a “home chef,” but doesn’t your everyday job include professional training?
I don’t have professional training, but I’m so fortunate to work with a team of professionally trained chefs here. I learn something new from them every day.
What’s an important skill they’ve taught you?
Knife skills! I didn’t realize until I worked here that I was holding my chef’s knife the wrong way—the handle should be between your thumb and index finger, with your grip at the bottom, close to the blade. And you should hold your opposite hand in a claw so that when you’re slicing, you don’t [lose any] fingers.
How do you make your cooking demos look so easy?
It’s a process. We taste everything to make sure it’s safe and easy to make at home. Things can go wrong behind the scenes, but we always pivot.
Well, no, tears have been shed behind the scenes. Any time you work with [melting] ice cream, you’re setting yourself up for a mess. And this one time, I thought it would be so cool to make a four-layer, four-course pie—a cookie bottom, spinach dip and pasta bake in the middle, and garlic knots on top. But it had a 19 percent rating, so I guess the audience didn’t think it was such a great idea.
What’s your most innovative creation?
We have a competition series called I Draw, You Cook, where two chefs or home cooks compete to bring a child’s drawing to life, and the child judges their favorite. I created an interactive edible aquarium with very little planning—and won!
What are your kitchen essentials?
A cookie scoop, a cast-iron skillet, a really good knife set and a food processor.
Besides social media, where else can we find Tasty?
At your local bookstore—we’ve published multiple best-selling cookbooks; grocery markets, where we’ve launched a line of Tasty-branded spice blends through our partnership with McCormick; and at Walmart, which carries our line of cookware.