During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, Keith Freda of Valrico created an Instagram page that showcases the delicious meals he cooks and grills.

Keith Freda has lived in Valrico for 44 years after moving from New Jersey as a toddler.

“I’ve been married for 16 years to my wife, Alli, and have two boys, Reid and Cole,” Freda said. “I grew up playing baseball locally at North Brandon Little League and football for the Brandon Cowboys. I attended Armwood HS, playing varsity baseball, and then two more years playing JUCO ball for HCC.”

His background is sports, but his hobby is cooking and grilling.

“I have a huge extended Italian family, so food has always been a big part of our lives and gatherings,” Freda said. “I guess it was in my blood to have that desire to prepare food and bring family, friends and loved ones together.”

During the pandemic, Freda had a lot of time to cook and grill.

“I do not have any training or a culinary background but learned most of what I know from talking to people and following experts and learning various techniques via online platforms like YouTube and Instagram.”

Freda always shared pictures of his food creations with his friends and family. These pictures eventually became Freda’s Instagram page, @fredas_food.

“I was very hesitant to do so, but I was constantly being nudged by my wife and her friends,” Freda said. “I enjoyed cooking and I always took pictures to share with a small group of friends but never thought of posting on social media.”

Freda had an Instagram account for personal use, and it was locked down to only close friends and family.

“Social media was not my thing, so, originally, I really didn’t want to get sucked into managing a public account,” Freda said. “I obviously caved, and I’ve had the account up for about a year now.”

Freda has had great feedback from his Instagram followers.

“Usually, it’s ‘When can I come by to pick some up?’ or ‘What time is dinner served?’,” Freda said with a laugh. “I’ve also had some people tell me they always check out my account to determine what they are going to eat that day. It’s nice to know that people are using my posts to help them with the meals they are planning for their families.”

To see what Freda is cooking, check out his Instagram page at www.instagram.com/fredas_food.

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Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.