It all started in preschool, at recess. I was instantly drawn to the kitchen play area, where I “baked cookies” and served “tea” to my classmates. When Christmas came, to my surprise, there was an Easy Bake oven under the tree just for me! I was ecstatic.
Growing up, I loved to spend time in the kitchen watching my mother prepare southern style meals for our family. Watching her cook was fascinating, and I enjoyed helping in any way I could. By age 11, I was certain I’d mastered the basics, and I began to invite friends over to test out my skills. We would make an evening of it; we’d play cards and listen to music, and I would cook for everyone. My friends raved about my steaks, the mashed potatoes, and the green beans that I prepared for them.
I continued to impress my friends and family as an adult. I cooked up a storm for every party and barbecue. I catered all of my own events. I never really gave becoming a professional much thought back then; I only cooked for family and friends. But the feedback was consistent; “Nicole this food tastes so good, you should enroll in culinary school!” “You need to become a chef or a caterer!” After a while, I started to think that maybe I would like a career in the food industry. Everyone else seemed to think it would be a great fit for me… But no matter how many times I was told that my food tasted great, I didn’t feel confident enough to go above and beyond my comfort zone for a while.
I cooked because it made me feel good and it gave me pleasure to see how much other people enjoyed my food. To see someone smile and hear them say, “Oh my goodness! This food is delicious!” is pure euphoria for me. When I’m in the kitchen cooking I get into my zone; it’s a wonderful feeling.
I was employed in the banking industry before becoming a chef, and, although it enabled me to provide for my family, I felt unfulfilled. Something was missing. And then I read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, and had an epiphany; I realized I needed to make a career change and pursue the happiness I felt when I was cooking, professionally. I was motivated by a desire to hear my diners say, “life is wonderful,” after eating a meal I’ve specially prepared just for them.
If you’re not born with a golden spoon in your mouth, you will have to work for a living! I want to enjoy what I do with my life, and cooking is what I’m most passionate about, so I’ve made sure my workday revolves around cooking. I love to see the delight a delicious meal can bring someone, especially when it’s been specified to their particular tastes and nutritional needs.