Stephen Cusato is a cook and a popular YouTuber.
He has more than 1.1M subscribers on his YouTube channel, ‘Not Another Cooking Show.’
Stephen Cusato was born on 27 December 1985 and hails from Brooklyn, New York City, United States.
He has German roots.
His father, Rick Cusato, used to work in an advertising agency company.
Stephen has a brother, Dave.
As a child, he was very introverted, and was captivated by Steven Spielberg’s movies, especially Jurassic Park, and wanted to grow up to become a director.
Love for cooking-
At a young age, Food Network had a profound impact on Stephen, and it attracted him towards cooking.
He was influenced by TV food programs, ‘Grillin’ & Chillin’’ featuring Bobby Flay, and ‘Yan Can Cook,’ and was also inspired by the young Jamie Oliver, and Anthony Bourdain, and Francis Mallmann of ‘Chef’s Table.’
Stephen used to spend his holidays in the kitchen baking cookies.
While studying high school, he started working as a dishwasher at a restaurant on a golf course in summer and here, he occasionally helped the chef in cooking.
This was Stephen’s first job and he loved it.
Education & career-
Stephen studied from Bronxville High School.
After completing his schooling in 2004, he joined Fairfield University to study for a BS in Marketing and graduated in 2008.
In June 2008, Stephen joined DeVito/Verdi in New York City and worked as a New Business Coordinator and Digital Creative Assistant and Internal Social Media Manager until June 2011.
Inspired by Gary Vee-
As Stephen’s father had worked in advertising for 35 years, and as Stephen graduated in Marketing, he decided to secure a job in advertising and so, he joined DeVito/Verdi in 2008.
But he was not too confident of being employed, thanks to the 2007–2008 financial crisis.
In 2008, Stephen observed social media making a mark and was attracted towards it and later, he read one of Gary Vaynerchuk’s books which cemented his passion for social media.
At that time, he started cooking for himself and started a blog, ‘The Food Freak.’
In 2008, Stephen was inspired by the popularity of Roy Choi’s Kogi food truck in Los Angeles.
He started avidly reading cookbooks in the bookstores and stumbled upon a cookbook mentioning 150 grilled cheese recipes and decided to start a grilled cheese recipe food truck.
At the time, Stephen was unable to get a good raise at his job, so he planned to build a brand out of his blog, and then build it into a food truck business, and quit his job.
Quitting his job & starting a food truck-
Stephen did moonlight in advertising until he got a permit with New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to operate a food truck outside of the New York City parks.
In June 2011, he quit his job, and he along with a couple of partners started a food truck, ‘FOODfreaks Inc.’ at Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn, New York City.
Stephen started selling 3 cheese grilled cheese and tomato soup combos in his food truck, and his brother used to help him by prepping food, and his other partner used to cater and do other side work, and he used to be the only person manning the truck.
At the time of getting his business plan approved by the Parks Department, he, and his partners did not have enough funding to start the food truck.
Coincidentally, Stephen’s grandfather passed away, and his mother received $55,000 of his life insurance policy which she gave to Stephen for starting the food truck business.
He started his business on a shoestring budget and on the first day of serving, he had only $500 in the bank, and lacked enough cash reserves.
As Stephen and his partners started the food truck in the warm months, their business went smoothly.
But the winter proved disastrous for their business, as their equipment started freezing and they could not operate in a usual, financially feasible way.
Therefore, they had to write off January and February, even though they did not have big savings, or cushion.
Fortunately, they succeeded in negotiating deals with the Deutsche Bank Building, and the Citigroup Center to rent a station in their cafeteria to start a pop-up, and they started selling Banh Mi sandwiches, and overcame winter woes.
Likewise, they also opened pop-ups at Governors Ball Music Festival, and Electric Zoo.
In July 2013, Stephen exited from the business as he had a disagreement with one of his partners.
Becoming a Content Producer-
In February 2014, Stephen joined BrightFarms in the Greater New York City Area to work as a Content Producer and his job involved managing social media and marketing efforts.
Later, one of his old friends from his previous advertising job reached out to him and offered him a food photography gig for Tribe Hummus.
Eventually, Stephen started working with numerous brands and offering them his know-how and content services of photos and videos for social media.
This did not go for too long as the brands were not social media savvy, and the campaigns did not yield results, the brands stopped doing business with Stephen.
In 2017, Stephen bagged a big pasta company as his client and was earning $10,000 per month but this too did not last for long, as after a couple of months, thanks to a new Vice President of Marketing at the company, all his operations were halted.
Inspiration to work on YouTube–
A month later, Stephen moved back to his home and was depressed by the loss of his business.
At the time, Gary Vaynerchuk released a book and thanks to reading it, he realised his valuable skills, cooking, photography, video production, and experiences with food and life with which he could produce content.
On 12 February 2018, Stephen started his YouTube channel, ‘Not Another Cooking Show’.
At the time, his parents allowed him to use their kitchen to film his videos and allowed him to live in their house rent-free.
As of November 2023, Stephen has 1.13M subscribers on his YouTube channel and 198K followers on Instagram.
He earns from a variety of sources, advertisements and ‘Super Thanks’ on his YouTube channel, affiliate marketing, sponsorships, merchandise, and he also accepts donations through Patreon and PayPal.
Stephen sells a PDF, ‘Holiday Plan Of Attack,’ on his website.
Strategy & gear-
In one of the videos, Stephen stated his strategy of building a library of videos and earn from them through advertisements, and brand deals, and later, earn by licensing his videos to other video platforms.
He is dyslexic.
Some interesting facts about Stephen Cusato-
- He loves cooking sticky toffee pudding, and it is his favourite dessert (this is also the favourite dessert of Sonny Hurrell, a popular cook, and YouTuber).
- Apart from food, Stephen loves watching comedy videos and listening to comedians’ podcasts.
So, how are you inspired by the success story of Stephen Cusato?
Share with me in the comment section below.
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