the Food Network

7 Questions with Nicky Mores, the Racing Chef

There are plenty of channels on the dial these days where you can get tips on how to use a chef’s knife or recipes for chocolate covered macaroons.  Of course there’s the Food Network and it’s kid sister the Cooking Channel, TLC, FOX, NBC and the SPEED Channel.  Don’t reach for your bifocals, you read that right – the SPEED Channel.  Racing’s premiere cable channel has it’s own cooking show, the Racing Chef starring award winning chef Nicky Morse.

Morse travels the NASCAR circuit cooking and teaching with the sport’s best drivers, pit crew members and even fans. The Racing Chef is part Iron Chef and part Talladega Nights.  In his post as NASCAR’s culinary pit boss, Chef Nicky has seen everything from a crew member that makes the best authentic, old-school manicotti to a guy roasting a whole alligator in the infield of a super speedway.  But just how did a gourmet chef well known among the country club set suddenly find himself rubbing elbows with blue collar stock car fans?

That is no short story.  Morse was a very successful chef by the time he was 30 years old but that is when fate entered into his life in the form of the big “C.”  Hodgkin’s lymphoma meant an end to the 70+ hour work week of a professional kitchen.  Something had to change.  A chance meeting with Jeg’s Drag Racing Team of the NHRA was just the ticket.  After eight years as the crew chef for the championship team, the Racing Chef just kind of fell into his lap.

A few critics have described the show as campy.  Really?  It’s a show about cooking and tailgating at stock car races, what were they expecting, Mad Men?  The reality is that the Racing Chef is wildly popular with it’s target audience.  That’s all you can ask for from any TV show.  Recently I spoke with Chef Nicky Morse and he agreed to answer 7 Questions:

Nicky Morse o9n WannabeTVchef.com1. How old were you when you first started to cook?

Professionally 18.  Of course when I was in diapers I said I was going to be a chef.

2. Is that really when you decided that you could make food your career, when you were in diapers?

You know what?  To be honest with you, yeah.  I didn’t ever want to do anything else.  That’s it.  That’s all I was going to do.  You know it’s funny, the other day my mom pulled some stuff out from when I was in grade school and read me some of the stuff where I had said I was going to be a chef.

3. Which chefs have influenced you the most?

I’ve had a lot of chefs influence me.  There’s a guy named Harmut Handke, he’s kind of given me a lot of inspiration in the culinary world. I looked at his work and I studied his work and I looked at a lot of his recipes.  He was the international chef of the year.  He was the manager for the United States for the Culinary Olympics.

I worked for a guy named Ziggy (Allespach).  Ziggy trained me and gave me the base for my education.  He had a French restaurant , well Continental cuisine but mainly French, and this was when I was just starting out.  He influenced me a lot.  He was top notch.  There was no other 4 star restaurant in Columbus, Ohio at that time to work at so I worked for him.

Your asking me for one I’m giving you two.  They kind of set my path for me.  I didn’t ever work for Hartmut but Ziggy I was probably with him four and a half years.

4. If you hadn’t followed this career path, what other career could you see yourself in?

You know what?  This is crazy and it’s going to sound nuts.  You’re going to be like, “What?”  I would love to do, like, somewhere between street magic and Candid Camera.  I love messing with, I mean I love messing with people.  I could mess with people 24 hours a day.  I love it.  And I’d love to do card tricks.

5. What’s the highlight of your career so far?

I’d have to give you a couple of highlights.  When I started and I was working for Ziggy and I became his sous chef.  I mean I was the sous chef at the only four star restaurant around here.

And then what I’m doing now I would have to say is the highlight of my career.  It’s almost like two different careers.  Working on television and working in a restaurant are two different things.

6. What aspect of your professional life do you enjoy the most?

I like working with my family.  Mitzi, my wife, she takes care of the web site.  I like my wife working with me.  My brother, Matt, wrote the theme song for the show.  My nephew, Martin, made my chef hat.  It’s an amazing hat!  He had one day to make it.  My sister wrote and produced the show for years and her husband is still a producer.  I have a brother that helps me with graphics and a sister that helps me write things, checks my grammar.  I have a niece that created the logo.  Getting to work with my family and have everybody work and influence the show, that is the best part of my professional career.

7. What’s next for Chef Nicky?

I’m going to open an online store.  Since I started this TV show I’ve had so many people e-mail me.  They want to buy a cookbook.  They want to buy a T-shirt. They want to buy something.  So I guess the fans, hopefully, are going to dictate to me what I’m going to do nest.  I’m at a point right now where I have to open a store.  There’s too much demand for me not to open a store.

The Racing Chef with Nicky Morse airs Mondays at 9PM (ET) on SPEED.

BH Chef Sasha’s Tahitian Vanilla Cake

Tahitian Vanilla CakeSo the Private Chefs of Beverly Hills is blowing up.  People are eating it up (pun intended).  Gal-pal Sasha Perl-Raver is the leading search item in conjunction with the show and in episode three she unveiled a cake that is all the buzz.  Sasha recently published the recipe for her much talked about Tahitian Vanilla Cake.

After having suffered hundreds of hours of boring Food Network Cake Challenges I have finally seen a cake that I would actually like to try.  Why does this cake sound better to me than those lame Disney cakes or even the masterpieces churned out by the talented gang at Charmed City Cakes?  No F’ing fondant!  Sure it makes the cake prettier but fondant is devoid of flavor and has an uncomfortable texture.  It’s like eating glue and the last time I checked we are not supposed to eat glue.  Anyway, here is Sasha’s recipe for Tahitian Vanilla Cake.

Bake Me  A Wish, gourmet birthday cakes, cake delivery

NFNS 4 Marathon

Originally published December 31, 2008.

Well, it is News Year’s Eve and Food Network is passing the time by showing the entire fourth season of NFNS.  Now everyone who didn’t get to see how Kelsey, Lisa and Shane got screwed can watch it for themselves.  This way they can watch (SPOILER ALERT!) Aaron McCargo and wonder the same thing the rest of us did who watched the first time, “How the hell did this guy win?”

They also get to see Tuschman string Nipa along three or four episodes simply because there are 3 billion people in India, a virtually untapped market.  Granted Nipa is beautiful and very good at her cuisine but OMG!  I belive that “Nipa” is the Klingon word for deja vu.

You can now relish the quick exit of Kevin Roberts who referred to people who eat boxed mac and cheese as white trash in an interview in the push leading up to the beginning of the season.

Then there is Cory, the professional comedian, who wasn’t funny or even pleasurable to watch in anyway.  During her exploits in the first episode all I could think was there are thousands of qualified chefs (self included) who didn’t even get a casting call but you run over to the set of Last Comic Standing and say, “You, Cory, have you ever cooked anything before?  You have?  Cool come be on our show and make people laugh.”

Let us also not forget Mary Nolan?  What you don’t remember her from NFNS?  That’s because FN execs were so blown away by her interview that they just gave her a show without having to compete.  She was the actual winner of NFNS 4.

But my heart will always go out to Kelsey Nixon who blew away the competition every week and got let go because she was only 23 and Tuschman just didn’t think audiences would buy her as a food expert.  BTW, Mary Nolan was only 26.  During the season Food Network maintained an interactive fan poll and Nixon was far and away the big winner there.  Even today with FN rerunning the whole dog and pony show the hit to my site have been overwhelmingly from people searching the name Kelsey Nixon.  The stats?  Kelsey 21 hits, Big Daddy 5, Lisa Garza 4.

Oh and Adam Gertler who proved to be a poor cook but a great personality is getting his own show, Will Work For Food which will air in prime time as opposed to winner McCargo whose show Big Daddy’s House is buried in the no-man’s land of seldom watched Sunday morning programing.

And with NFNS 5 just around the corner I wonder what ploys we will have to endure this season in the name of ratings.

7 Questions with Beverly Hills Chef Sasha Perl-Raver

7 Questions is a series of interviews with the culinary movers and shakers you want or ought to know better.

On Friday April 9th Food Network premieres one of it’s most highly anticipated and hyped series in quite some time.  Taking a cue from Bravo’s Real House Wives franchise they have developed Private Chefs of Beverly Hills – an inside look at Tinsel Town shindigs from the point of view of the culinary teams that put them together.

At age 16 Sasha Perl-Raver started her own catering business.  Since then she has graduated from USC with a minor in cinema, guest starred on the Lifetime drama Strong Medicine, was crowned Miss San Francisco, baked Lindsay Lohan’s 18th birthday cupcakes, been a senior writer for a Hollywood gossip web site and been named “funniest in LA” by a newspaper in New York.  Designer Randolph Duke once called Sasha a chubbier Angelina Jolie.  A year from now people might be referring to Jolie as an emaciated Sasha Perl-Raver.

Today Sasha combines show business and the culinary arts as a member of the team at Big City Chefs.  Big City is a private chef operation that caters to the whims of demanding and eclectic stars.  It is also the subject of Food Network’s latest venture into reality programming.

Chef Sasha was nice enough to answer 7 Questions:

1. How old were you when you first started to cook?

Chef SashaSasha: I took my first foray into cooking when I was 7. I was latchkey kid in Manhattan who took the bus home from school. My bus stop was in front of this amazing pizza parlor and it always smelled insanely good but I only had enough money for the bus, not a snack. So I would go home and make pizza from scratch. I made the dough, the sauce, everything. I got all kinds of Wolfgang Puck! Those early pizzas were usually unbelievably delicious, but one time my dad cracked a tooth on the crust. You live and learn.

2. When did you decide that you could make food your career?

Sasha:  I was 16 when I graduated from high school and I didn’t have any marketable skills except my obsession with food. I’d been in charge of Thanksgiving dinner since I was 11, read cookbooks out loud constantly to my parents, fixated on things like how to make roasted garlic flan. A family friend who’d eaten my food for years offered me a job as her personal chef. Word of mouth spread really quickly about this 16 year old wunderkind and soon I had a roster of clients and my obsession became my profession.

3. Which chefs have influenced you the most?

Sasha:  Alice Waters is my road dawg! I love her more than words can say and my food philosophy is entirely based on hers. And who doesn’t bow at the feet of Thomas Keller? When I was a kid, I was all about The Frugal Gourmet, Martin Yan and Two Hot Tamales. Nowadays, I would do just about anything to sit down at a table with Rick Bayless, but mainly because I have a big ol’ crush on him.

4. If you hadn’t followed this career path, what other career could you see yourself in?

Sasha:  Well, I always really wanted to be a dancer but I fear that will never happen. The truth is my passions have always been food, film and writing and I’ve been lucky enough to work in all those fields whether it’s been cooking for or interviewing celebrities, writing film and food reviews or doing this show. But I still think it would be pretty rad to be a ballerina.

5. What’s the highlight of your career so far?

Sasha:  Being on “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills” is pretty major and up at the top but I think it was actually a party I catered a few years ago. With less than 36 hours notice, I catered the US Weekly Young Hot Hollywood Party for 1500 people. I did all the prep alone, had just two line cooks to help me out the night of, slept maybe two hours before the party, there were reporters there from every major entertainment news organization and the whole place was VIP.

About two hours into the party, my boss comes in and kisses me on the face because everyone was so thrilled with the food. I walk out of the kitchen and there’s Jessica Alba eating my tuna tartar and Justin Timberlake stuffing a piece of my cotton candy into his mouth. As my mother would say, I was kvelling.

6. Of all the crazy things you’ve seen at Big City Chefs what’s the craziest?

Sasha:  The cast. I kid, I kid!

Every time we do an event, it’s pretty nuts but I have to say, the event Chef Brian Hill and I did, which I believe is in the first episode, was completely insane.

We had to go “Glamping,” which is glamorous camping, and cook a gourmet meal for these millionaires. First of all, I hate camping! My parents are major hippies and took me camping all the time when I was a kid. Don’t get me wrong, I love nature. I just don’t like cooking, sleeping and showering in nature. I haven’t gone camping in years but, there we were, at this beautiful camp site, just off a lake, so picturesque, but all we had was a spigot and a fire pit.  No fire, no burners, no oven, no warm water, no prep area; just logs and really high expectations. It was madness.

7. What’s next for Chef Sasha?

Sasha:  For about a year and a half I’ve been working on my first book, Hungry for Love. It’s a foodoir (part memoir, part food book), and my agent is sending it out to publishers on Wednesday so I’ve got my fingers majorly crossed for that. Big money, no whammies! And, of course I’m very excited for Private Chefs of Beverly Hills to premiere on April 9th. I’ve dreamed of being on Food Network for as long as I’ve known about it and now I can say that Paula Deen, Tyler Florence and I are one big happy family.

Private Chefs of Beverly Hills airs Fridays at 10p/9c on the Food Network.

Can’t get enough Sasha?  At the beginning of season two, Sasha was nice enough to give me an inside look at the Private Chefs of Beverly Hills.  Check it out HERE.

Check out Chef Sasha on Fox News’ Strategy Room where she discusses the show, Jamie Oliver, diets and Michelle Obama.

View my complete catalog of interviews and bios for the Private Chefs of Beverly Hills by clinking HERE.

Follow Stuart via “the Online”

Sip & Chew with Mike and Stu

Add to Google


Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

Stu’s Latest Kindle Single is Just $2.99

Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


Subscribe to this blog

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

ISO 9000 Culinary Arts Certification