We know we’re not the only ones who were a bit shocked by last Thursday’s episode of Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell, where talented young chef Nicole Karr (@ChefNicoleKarr) had the unenviable position of competing against someone who had years of experience working for Chef David Burke who was seeking a new executive chef for his Fromagerie in Rumson, NJ. While all the chefs were talented, we kept salivating over Nicole’s dishes and were sad to see her go. We reached out to her after the show to learn more about her experience on Chef Wanted.
FP: How did you get your start with cooking? When did you decide you wanted to be a chef? What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
NK: Growing up in an Italian family, all I remember us doing was cooking and eating. I remember helping my grandmother cook Sunday dinner. From a very young age there was always an interest. What I enjoy most about being a chef brings me back to my childhood and the sense of closeness to my family and all of the memories that were made. I want people to go out to eat and really enjoy themselves, create new memories of their own.
FP: Name some of your favorite chefs and why?
NK: I’ve had the pleasure of eating at Mario Batali’s Babbo in NYC and Marc Vetri’s Vetri in Philadelphia. The food at both places was amazing and the atmosphere and service were great also. I love these two chefs because they stay true to the ingredients they use. Another one of my favorite chefs right now is Michael Voltaggio. The things that he is doing with food just amaze me. It’s really interesting to me to see all the innovative things he is doing.
FP: Tell us about your experience on Chef Wanted. What was the entire process like from casting to actual filming? What was it like to compete with the other chefs? What did you learn from Anne Burrell and David Burke?
NK: I have mixed feeling about my experience. When I found out that Phil had worked for David Burke for 6 years, I felt that there was no way I had a chance. He could have grilled his shoe and presented it beautifully with all the finest garnishes and would have still been handed the position. The real test for me was staying true to my cooking style and portraying myself the best way I could. Overall, I feel very lucky to been given the exposure and to be in the same kitchen as Chef Burrell. She is someone who I admire and really appreciated all her feedback.
FP: We thought you did a great job on the show. The menu you created for the final dinner was delicious. You can cook for us anytime! When you are home, what are some of your favorite meals to cook for yourself? If you go out to eat, name some favorite places. What are some of your guilty pleasures (if any)? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂
NK: I like to cook very healthy when I’m home but if I worked all day I usually just eat a bowl of Rice Krispies. My eating habits are weird. I get into certain kicks, right now it’s pickles.
FP: Name three individuals you would want to invite over for dinner and what you would prepare for them.
NK: One of the people I’d really like to cook for is my grandmother. I think she would be really proud of me and be my best critic. I can see her spitting out the food if she didn’t like it. I would like to cook for Lady Gaga because I am obsessed and that’s pretty much the only reason. Of course, also my mother, that’s a given. I’d probably just make a sauce with some pasta, meatballs and brasciole.
FP: That sounds like a great meal to us! Any advice or tips for novice chefs?
NK: Get a job in a kitchen, and if you still have an interest after that then you have to work really hard. Prove yourself because sometimes you’re going to be given the worst jobs to do but you need to just push through and do it. Your work won’t go unnoticed.
FP: Great tips. If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?
NK: I can’t imagine what I would be doing if I wasn’t a chef. I was really interested in forensics and also passed the NYPD test and thought that was where I was headed. I basically had to choose and in the end it was to go to Culinary Cchool.
FP: Where will we see Chef Nicole Karr in ten years?
NK: I hope to be a restaurant owner. In the end all I really want is to be happy and healthy, cooking, and surrounded by the ones I love.
FP: Thanks for your time, Nicole. We know you have a bright future ahead! Please keep us posted on where you are cooking so that we can come give your food a try.