Alexandria, VA – Adam Fazackerley was hungry. It was late March 2020, his wife and sons were out of town quarantining at their lake house, and he was home alone, working long days and skipping meals. Foraging for food late one night, he turned to Facebook Live on a whim and began to livestream making a meal out of leftovers in his fridge, enlisting his cousin Craig via Alexa to be a virtual guest.
Unbeknownst to Adam, Craig was dozing on the couch at the time, at his home in upstate New York. Adam continued cooking and calling out to Craig to join him. “It’s not like he actually gave me any notice beforehand that he was going to spool up an epic series at midnight,” Craig laughed.
And epic it became. Little did Adam or Craig know that this pilot would be followed by 100 more episodes, often featuring Adam’s wife Amy, their children, his parents, his mother-in-law, and of course his cousins, with hundreds of friends tuning in nightly to Cooking With Cousin.
The allure? No doubt it was the joy of seeing a friendly, familiar face while everyone was stuck home in quarantine. As Craig said, “In a time when our social activity was severely restricted, it gave a great group of friends and relatives a platform to connect, laugh, and learn a bit too.”
It’s just more fun to cook with family and friends. That was the beauty of dropping in on Cousin Craig. “It would have been boring to just talk by myself,” Adam said. “Chatting with someone else added so much more interest. I didn’t really plan any of it – that was the key to the whole exercise.” Plus, Amy added, “Adam is an amazing cook and feels so comfortable in front of the camera. It was the perfect mix.”
Not one to follow a recipe, Adam enjoyed discovering new dishes. He never set foot in a grocery store and, at Amy’s request, used up all the food in the fridge and pantry (a few orders via Amazon Prime provided replenishments). “What impressed me most,” Cousin Craig noted, “were Adam’s consistency (he posted every single day, without fail), and the fact that he never cut himself during food prep!”
There were no rules in this escape from reality. It was lighthearted fun that had nothing to do with COVID-19 or anything in the news. Just hanging out with Cousin Craig, getting to know Craig’s new bride, Shannon (who would become a mainstay of the program), and making something to eat.
It didn’t take long for the Fazackerley boys to get into it, to Adam’s delight. “The boys had fun watching him at night when he was in Alexandria and we were at the lake. We would tune in and check it out even though we couldn’t be there,” Amy said.
The three boys are no strangers to the kitchen, having inherited their love of cooking from Adam’s mom, Gigi, who graced the show with a few appearances as well. The boys are already accomplished cooks and bakers who run a small business delivering their freshly baked breads to neighbors and friends. Miles has already published his own cookbook, Mixing It Up with Miles, and raised some $5,000 for the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.
Engaging and enthusiastic, Adam talked about more than just cooking and family on these shows. He addressed the COVID-induced plight of small business, especially the restaurant business, with his guest Pedro Mendoza from Southside Restaurant. Adam also hosted an After Show segment with his friend Tom Sullivan, Vice President, Small Business Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, discussing the pandemic and subsequent government recovery efforts for small businesses.
Originally, Adam thought he’d do the pilot and maybe a follow up. Then he finished 10 episodes. When he hit 30, he thought, “Oh my gosh, this is funny. I’m actually having fun doing this. You never know where a wild idea is going to go.” Why 100? “We were having too much fun at 50 episodes to end it, so we kept going. There were four parts to the show: Cousin and Shannon, the food, me and my family, and the friends who were watching. It was a perfect square. But, after 101 days of streaming, it was time to end it before any one of those parts lost interest.”
The show went out with a bang. Adam and his oldest son, Andrew, drove north to surprise Craig and Shannon for an in-person 100th episode. “Of course, when Adam showed up at my house unannounced for the final episode, that was the ultimate surprise for me,” Craig said. “Funny thing was, I was cooking his excellent flank steak recipe for my guests that night!”
Is there a new reality show on the horizon? Keeping Up With the Fazackerleys would be the antithesis of that other TV show. Adam laughed and said, “No. The beauty was that in 100 episodes, there were zero cuts and no edits, but we did have one curse.” When Adam’s Leaning Tower of Pepper popped open and 100 peppercorns fell into the frypan, he uttered an involuntary “s**t!” If anything, a reality show could document this busy family’s entrepreneurial business, but that’s for another day.
Now that Cooking With Cousin is over, Adam is reflective. “People are being so creative right now, making do in this crazy situation. It’s interesting to see the change this pandemic has brought. It’s caused us to recalibrate our priorities, discover where we really find meaning, and realize how much family matters. For me, that’s what started Cooking With Cousin. It’s always been about family. Keep it Cousin!”
Adam and Amy Fazackerley are the developers and owners of the Lay-n-Go family of products, cinch-tied sacks for everything from toys to makeup to personal electronics. See all their innovative designs on www.layngo.com.