From the ingredients they share to the rich cultures they reflect, the worlds of beauty and food — and the people who merge them — are in constant conversation. Welcome to Well Fed, a column that celebrates how we nourish our bodies, from face to plate. Content warning: This story contains references to disordered eating.
When Dan Pelosi and I meet for a mani-pedi date at Jin Soon salon, we make each other pledge not to peek at the other’s toenails before they’re trimmed. Other than that, the Brooklyn-based food and lifestyle creator is an open book. If you’re a fan, that shouldn’t surprise you in the least — in Grossy Pelosi’s world, what you see is what you get. If you’ve ever DMd him, you’ve probably heard back. That near-constant smile all over his Instagram feed? Authentic. He may have taken a non-conventional path to become one of social media’s most like-able personalities — and one of its most talented home cooks — but Pelosi is the real deal.
Raised in an Italian-American and Portuguese household in Connecticut, now 40-year-old Pelosi was essentially born with a wooden spoon (his go-to smiles back) in his fist. “I always say we were talking about what’s for dinner at lunch. My grandfather and my dad spent Sunday mornings going through grocery store flyers, clipping coupons,” he says. That grandfather, Bimpy, is a now Instagram-famous supporting character in the Grossy cinematic universe: He’s a hundred years old, a local ShopRite socialite, and the patriarch of the family that inspired many of Pelosi’s comforting dishes. “My immediate family was pretty small, but it felt really big because people would gather at our house. Everyone was making the marinara in their own little way; I literally didn’t want to leave the house. You know when the aunties would sit having their coffee and biscotti? I was basically taking notes.”
All that observation would prove worth it decades later. After “a shitty 2019” and a similarly shitty start to 2020 thanks to COVID-19, the Brooklyn-based “meatball making meatballs” decided to follow the advice of his culinary world friends — and the rest of his social circle — and turn his dinner party prowess and constant posting into a full-time cooking career. He began writing up recipes for the meals he regularly cooked at home — think weeknight marinara and frittatas using leftover pasta — posting them in story form on Instagram for viewers to follow along. He made a logo early on (Grossy is a college nickname inspired by Never Been Kissed), saved his recipes in highlights on his profile for easy access, and answered questions from his following near constantly. His audience grew at a rapid clip, and hit 100k followers by January of this year.
This kind of success on an app can take years to develop, but Pelosi believes his career in design and experience as a creative director provided him with the right ingredients for a smart start. “My skill set was very applicable. I think because I was a career creative, I was able to really quickly figure out how to make my ideas and myself visually teachable,” he explains. In November 2020, he started [offering] virtual cooking classes to help pay the bills, and he partially attributes his meteoric rise — and the finesse of his many recipes — to the helpful followers dropping him direct messages after each method he’d post. Without his pre-COVID dinner party guests to sample his dishes, the strangers re-creating them became his focus group. “I learned so much; they were my recipe testers. I’d make little mini-edits because I’d realize, ‘Oh my god, five people have now told me that this needs more salt,'” Pelosi recalls. “It was kind of a unique way to become a full-time… I like to say ‘creator,’ whatever the fuck that means.”
Whatever the fuck that does mean, the creator life suits him. His Instagram following is now over 120,000 strong, and his presence in the press and on podcasts and morning shows has helped turn him into a millennial household name. He hosts Food52 web series The Secret Sauce, recently appeared in conversation with Martha Stewart at Infatuation’s Eatssscon, and regularly partners with prolific brands like KitchenAid and Barilla. The familiar faces in his orbit — sweet partner Gus and teeny Bimpy, just to name a couple — are known among his following as minor celebs thanks to Pelosi’s constant story updates. Another defining Grossy signature: in many photos and Reels on his grid, you’ll spot an eye-catching manicure, another habit Pelosi picked up during the early days of the pandemic.