With only six videos, the Instagram account @hococooking currently has over 600 followers. Five of those posts are montages of a student or a group of students, preparing food inside Holloway Commons dining hall from the ingredients available there.
The man behind the Instagram account is Thomas McDonough, a sophomore political science and international affairs major. He started the account over the summer, and several months later, after one of the videos was featured on a couple of other social media pages, the account started rapidly gaining followers.
“One day I was looking around HoCo and I didn’t see anything that really looked interesting, so I had the idea of making a pancake on a panini press,” McDonough said. “At first I figured that was a bad idea, because as I started doing this, the line began forming behind me of people wanting to use the panini press, so I kind of felt bad, but then I realized that a lot of them were actually kind of interested in what I was doing.”
After that, McDonough’s friend suggested recording the process and uploading it to Instagram, and @hococooking was born. So far, McDonough has shared his experience making a cake in a cup, the aforementioned panini press pancake, buffalo chicken waffle panini, Krispy Treat dip with waffle crisps and, most recently, garlic bread.
Cooking was not really an interest of McDonough’s until college; assembling meals from limited HoCo ingredients has become sort of a challenge for him.
“I usually just walk around HoCo and look at the ingredients that are available that day and see if anything comes to me,” McDonough said. “If it does, I try to make it happen.”
Usually, a friend helps McDonough record the process; he then edits the footage into a short one-minute clip.
Nothing McDonough has done so far has broken the dining hall rules, and even the employees seem to be entertained by the ingenious cooking process.
“I try to do things respectfully here, understanding the fact that most people here are student employees and I don’t want to make things difficult for them,” McDonough said. “I’ve actually found a lot of encouragement from staff here.”
In fact, one of the employees offered McDonough an opportunity to use the brick pizza oven instead of the panini press for his garlic bread video.
For McDonough, the following became a surprise.
“I really didn’t expect it to get this far; initially, it was about 10 or 20 followers…” McDonough said. “And then, overnight, it just went off the charts and now we’re at 600. I really didn’t expect any of this, but I appreciate the enthusiasm.”
McDonough is not planning to stop at garlic bread. Currently, he has plans for apple pie, eggs benedict, cannolis, mozzarella sticks and flatbread pizza.