What Would Tony P, Your Average 25-Year-Old Bachelor in D.C., Cook?

For those who know him, Tony P is an inspiration. For those who don’t, he just seems like any regular guy until you’re charmed by his earnestness.

October 24, 2023

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Photo by: The Washington Post/Getty Images

The Washington Post/Getty Images

Anthony John Polcari, better known as Tony P, is your average 25-year-old bachelor working in Washington D.C. navigating the early stages of adulthood. In May of 2023, Tony P began posting on Instagram (@_tonypindc) in the hopes of inspiring other young professionals on how to develop fundamental life skills like cooking and dressing professionally.

But in a mere matter of months, Tony P has swiftly amassed 119,000 followers. His content includes cooking demos, day and weekend in the life videos, outfit inspiration and his love of all things golf. It is his unassumingly normal, charming, wholesome nature that’s drawn people in and differentiates him from many other influencers on the scene. He’s even started to get recognized on the street and has a dedicated fan page (@the_phive).

Still as humble as ever, his overnight success hasn’t gone to his head. He’s just as shocked by his newfound fame as his friends and family are. “I thought I’d maybe get 1,000 followers and have a little community where we could talk about these things, and it just became a lot bigger. I don’t exactly know how it’s gonna keep growing but I’m honored that people love it. I’m just so grateful,” Tony P says.

He’s even starting to get comfortable using the word “influencer” to describe himself. He elaborates, “Influencer, content creation, digital marketing. I kind of always say all three together. But you know, I got a full-time job and this right now is more of my side gig to express my creative side. But I’m starting to view myself as a part-time influencer. Yeah, that’s definitely a title I’ve used.”

When he first started posting, he was motivated by his desire to share his recipes and show people, especially men, how to balance work and cooking healthy food for yourself.

Tony P is also big on promoting “vibrant masculinity” on his platform explaining that it means, “You embrace creativity as well as what we [consider to be] traditionally masculine. I hate that phrasing but I’m just going to use it for reference … like working out or athletics. You can love to cook, paint, watch shows like House Hunters like I do. You can love with your whole heart, be able to show passion and joy and positivity without feeling like oh I'm soft or I have to be sarcastic.”

He hopes to be an inspiration to the men who come across his page and continues to unapologetically be his authentic self, having no shame in wearing his emotions on his sleeve. “It’s okay as a guy to be warm to people and kind and empathetic and generous. This really leads into everything from leadership to relationships. Instead of dominate, direct or control, I think it’s more about inspire and lift up,” he says. His audience does indeed sway more male (roughly 65/35), however he still wants his page to be a space for everyone.

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Photo by: The Washington Post/Getty Images

The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tony P self-admittedly is a simple guy. On an average day, he wakes up, has a breakfast of scrambled eggs or oatmeal, then takes his daily 1.5-mile walk to work. He uses this time to clear his head, listen to a podcast and wake up with the rest of the city. In between meetings and his daily tasks, he stops at Subway, his favorite lunch spot, to grab a sandwich and maybe a few cheeky cookies.

After he wraps up work, he walks back home and cooks dinner, shooting content if that’s on the agenda for the night. A one-man show, Tony P shoots and edits everything himself. After eating dinner, he cleans the kitchen (a spotless kitchen is a must for him!) and winds down by watching The Golden Girls or Law & Order. Then he’ll wake up the next morning and do it all over again.

While on average he gets roughly five to six hours of sleep per night, he’s not a coffee or tea drinker. His infectious energy is au natural. “I like lemon water, orange juice or during the day a little Coke Zero Sugar won’t hurt. But that’s the extent of my caffeine or sugar usage. The funny thing is my energy gets [higher] throughout the day. It’s very, very weird. I end up having a much greater momentum as the day goes on.”

He’s adamant on making home-cooked meals for himself and encourages others his age to do the same. If things get busy, he may eat out but that’s usually once a week, twice at worst. Some of his favorite spots in D.C. include Grazie Nonna, Morton’s, Ted’s Bulletin, Federalist Pig and The Monocle on Capitol Hill.

Originally from Boston, Tony P grew up cooking with his mother, father and grandmother. Although his parents were divorced, he made signature dishes with each of them. “My dad taught me how to cook the staples like steak, chicken and grilling. Then my grandmother taught me how to do a lot of the Irish [dishes], and my mom taught me Italian cooking, like her meat sauce.”

In fact, Tony P used to want to be a chef when he was younger and tried to emulate Food Network stars as a child. “For years my grandmother bought me a chef’s outfit and I used to take the fake food from Toys ‘R’ Us and pretend that I was Bobby Flay or Ina Garten.” To this day, some of his biggest influencers include Food Network stars as well as Chef Josh Capon, and Gordon Ramsay, whom he took a masterclass with which built the foundation of his technique.

Tony P shares many recipes on his page but is most known for his infamous salmon dishes with vegetables and brown rice. Salmon was always one of his favorite things to cook with his dad, so it holds a special place in his heart. Other recipes he’s shared are roasted pork loin with garlic and Italian herbs and seared scallops with quinoa and asparagus.

While he’s not the biggest baker and would love to experiment more with his skills in that department, he does have a soft spot for a good Betty Crocker cake. “Every year my mom makes one for my birthday with her homemade buttercream frosting. She puts vanilla in the mix and her frosting. It’s kind of like her little secret ingredient that I didn’t know about for years.” A secret Tony P has now adopted when he makes his own Betty Crocker goodies.

With plenty of home cooking experience under his belt, and a family secret ingredient in his arsenal, we had to ask: What would Tony P do, or make, in some of daily life’s most pressing cooking scenarios?

Here’s what Tony had to say:

A quick weeknight meal?

I’m gonna go with a seared chicken breast in the cast-iron skillet. I’d do skin-on chicken. It's easier to cook, a little thinner as well and has a great flavor profile. Season that with salt, pepper, a little olive oil, Montreal chicken seasoning (I love using that), garlic powder, onion powder and paprika for a little bit of spice. Put it in the cast iron, add in some green beans usually with a little bit of rice or quinoa and then a salad on the side. Of course, a classic salmon dish would be another one.

What about date night?

I would do scallops with a nice balsamic glaze. Salt, pepper, olive oil. Put that in the cast iron, flip for about three to four minutes a side, get ’em nice and tender. Then put that on top of a nice bed of risotto and do a little spinach. And of course a salad. That’s a good way to start things off.

Dinner party?

That’s a toughy. I probably would make an Italian meat sauce with meatballs and pasta. Or go with chicken cutlets and pasta. Mostly an Italian type of dish, I think it’s easier to make. You want to be able to make things in bulk if you have like 10 to 12 people. Secondary option, I definitely would go with steak or chicken on the grill. Flip it on there. Make it in bulk.

What about a family potluck? What dish would you bring?

I make a pretty decent balsamic glazed shrimp. I used to make it in college a lot, and it was a hit with my roommates. For a secondary one, maybe a chicken cacciatore. My dad taught me that as well.

Sunday brunch?

I love to make chocolate chip pancakes with my special little ingredient – vanilla. I [also] like to make my scrambled eggs. I put Parmesan cheese in them. I’ll mix that in there [with] pepper, garlic powder, and then you put a little bit of butter [on the pancakes]. Nothing better than that, pancakes and eggs, very simple. I’m a very simple person.

And a midnight snack?

Honestly I like a nice cucumber salad. I get the small seedless ones. I’ll chop them up and make a nice little Dijon mustard vinaigrette and dip it in that. If I’m gonna make something, I would probably go with some nice Toll House cookies. Or apples and peanut butter. Those three are usually the rotation I go on.

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