By LYDIA BERGLAR
When Melissa “Moe” Tinker and Debbie “Deb” Adams started posting cooking videos on Facebook, they didn’t anticipate reaching further than their circle of friends and acquaintances. However, their Facebook page, “Cooking with Moe and Deb,” found thousands of followers, and the two continue to expand their online presence.
Tinker and Adams became friends in 1974 when Tinker’s family moved from Chattanooga to Sand Mountain and the two met at Davis Elementary in sixth grade. After graduating from Northwest Georgia High School (now Dade County High School) in 1980, they both began careers, got married, and raised kids here in Dade County. While they didn’t spend as much time together as when they were in school, the friends still saw each other around town, planned class reunions together, and connected over their shared appreciation of Pampered Chef products.
Adams has sold Pampered Chef products for the last 15 years, and Tinker is one of her most faithful customers. Then, in 2020, the kitchen utensils company unknowingly played a part in the inception of the friends’ cooking show.
To avoid going stir-crazy during the 2020 lockdowns and social distancing, Tinker signed up for an online class about making videos for social media. She took the course through The Chattery in Chattanooga, learning from Suzanne Dulin. Tinker recalls, “I took the class, then thought, now what am I going to do with it?”
She asked Adams about making a video about Pampered Chef, and together, they made their first video: “Top Ten Pampered Chef Gifts for Every Bride.” When Dulin reached out to see if any of her students had put their new skills to use, Tinker shared her and Adams’ video. Dulin encouraged them to continue making videos.
“Encouraged by the positive feedback, we decided to make some cooking videos,” the friends explained. “We created a Facebook page titled ‘Cooking with Moe and Deb’ and began putting videos out for all to see.”
While the page’s first followers were family members, friends, and acquaintances, exposure of the page snowballed, and by September of 2020, the page had 42,000 followers. Today, it has over 62,000 followers.
Tinker said, “It blows our mind, really. We were wondering how it happened and why all these people would want to watch us.” Adams added, “At first we thought they couldn’t all be real people, but they are. They comment and give us feedback.”
While their YouTube channel has far fewer subscribers, it has over 54,000 views. The friends also post on Instagram and TikTok, have a Pinterest board, and have a website with blog posts, recipes, and videos.
Cooking with Moe and Deb covers all food categories: main dishes, side dishes, desserts, and drinks. When asked what’s the most complex recipe they’ve made, Adams said canning–not because she herself finds it difficult, but because it is a time-consuming process involving many tools that some people might not have. However, the abundance of long-lasting jars of food at the end of the process make the effort worth it.
Tinker and Adams typically focus on quick and easy recipes they made for their families while raising their children, but they occasionally test new recipes. Adams said, “Most of them are tried and true recipes that our families love.”
Tinker said, “We like recipes where you don’t have to go searching for the ingredients. We use things that you probably already have in your kitchen.” Adams added, “If it has too many ingredients, I’ll skip that recipe more often than not.”
The friends particularly hope to see more young people discover the benefits of cooking at home, noting that with a little planning, many people can save money by cooking at home. Tinker said, “I know a lot of young people who think they can’t cook or that it’s too much work. We want to show people that cooking doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be a lot of fun, and you don’t have to be a chef. You can make simple recipes that are delicious.”
In addition to their cooking videos, the friends also highlight their other interests on their online platforms. Adams (an avid traveler and gardener) shares her travel adventures and gardening tips, and Tinker covers decorating, flower arranging, and cookie decorating. Also enjoying writing, Tinker writes the blog posts for their website. One of their videos is of them organizing Tinker’s pantry. (They usually cook in her kitchen, and Adams is just as much at home there as she is in her own kitchen.)
Tinker is more focused on baking and decorating baked goods than Adams. She teaches classes on decorating, and ahead of Christmas, she made “DIY Christmas Cookie Boxes” filled with homemade cookies and ready to use icing.
When compared to their days of raising kids and working full time, cooking these days is more enjoyable for the pair. Adams explained, “My view of cooking has changed over the years. I’ve always liked to cook, but sometimes it was a chore because you’d have to hurry home from work, hurry to pick up the kids, and everybody’s hungry, so it was hard during that time.” Adding to the stress, said Tinker, was finding dishes that the entire family enjoyed.
Tinker still works full time, and Adams stays busy with Pampered Chef and other projects, but she said, “Now that I’m not at a nine-to-five job every day, I have more time to plan meals and spend time cooking, so I enjoy it more.” They agree that cooking with each other is the most fun.
The duo hopes to continue growing their presence across all of their online platforms. In September 2023, they were invited to a gathering of southern food/cooking social media influencers. At this event in Birmingham, Ala., they rubbed shoulders with some influencers who have hundreds of thousands of followers.
Tinker said, “It was great to learn from them, what works for them, what doesn’t work for them. It was very exciting.” Adams added, “Apparently there are a lot of people out there who like to watch a lot of cooking videos and like to see a lot of different content creators.”
Tinker concluded, “We’re having fun, and when it stops being fun, we’ll stop doing it. We have a good time, just being together in the kitchen and we have a lot in common.”
The pair released their first cookbook (available for $25 via mail or on their website) in the summer of 2023, and they hope to work on another.
You can find the friends on Facebook and YouTube (Cooking with Moe and Deb), Instagram (Cookingwmoeanddeb), TikTok (moeanddeb), Pinterest (Moe and Deb), and on their website (moeanddeb.com). You can contact them by emailing email@example.com or sending mail to Cooking with Moe and Deb, PO Box 1465, Trenton, GA 30752.