For the Love of Pork

As residents of the state of New York, we’re always pleased when NY’ers are featured on Chopped– especially when they win! Though many of the chefs work in (or come from) NYC, a recent episode proved that there’s talent throughout the state. We recently reached out to Chef Nicole Mummolo after her victory on the show to learn about what got her into the kitchen and her never-ending love for pork.

Chef Nicole Mummolo
Chef Nicole Mummolo

FP: How did you get your start with cooking?

NM: I got my start in cooking when I was young as I helped my mom out at her job. She was a server and I would make the toast for the orders. Through out my teenage years I worked as a server, busser, food runner, prep cook.

FP: When did you decide you wanted to be a chef?

NM: After I found out I was a celiac I really became interested in becoming a professional chef.

FP: What do you enjoy most about being one?

NM: I enjoy being a Chef because I get to make food that brings people together. People eat with other people to come together, enjoy each other’s company and I get to help them with that.

FP: Nothing better than great food with great company! 

Name some chefs that have inspired you.

NM: WOW!!! This is going to be a never-ending list. Right off the bat I have to say Jose Garces and Jose Andres are probably my two number ones. I love their food! Others are iconic in our industry including Alice Waters and Julia Child. I also really enjoy Michael Pollen for all of his work too.

FP: Some great chefs for sure! 

When you’re not working at La Puerta Azul (Millbrook, NY), what are some of your favorite meals?

I love and I repeat, I LOVE PORK! Anything pig, lol. Pork tenderloin with a peach salsa with some Viogner, pork chop with apples and caramelized onions, pulled pork with achiote or curry, piggy mac, pork tacos, pork risotto, this can keep going, drunken pork, pulled pork on a pizza (really you should try it)  pepperoncini filled with cream cheese and crispy prosciutto. Pretty much prosciutto in general. Ok, I’ll stop, I think you guys get it 🙂

FP: Sounds like you and pork were meant to be! 🙂

If you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in the area or other cities you’ve visited.

NM: In the Poughkeepsie area we frequently visit this little Italian deli EVERY WEEK!  Rossi’s Deli is like the end all to get a great Panini around here.

When I lived in Philadelphia a couple of my favorite spots to go were the Chart House, Fogo de Chao, Capital Grille and any of Chef Garces’s restaurants. Also, there was this little diner which I can’t remember the name of. It was on Frankfurt Ave in the NE and they had the best breakfast at 2 am, lol.

FP: We definitely have to check out the food scene in Philadelphia as we have heard great things!

What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂

NM: I am a fiend for some good gelato and this might sound weird but I really like tongue but only in a taco 🙂

FP: Good gelato sounds good right about now! As for tongue…we’ll take your word for it 🙂

In three words, how would your friends and family describe you?

NM: Loud, animated and compassionate.

FP: If you hadn’t become a chef, what would you be doing? Any non-cooking hobbies?

NM: I think I would have gone into engineering or science (which is probably why I like food science). I like to know how things work and how to manipulate certain things to do what I want them to do. I get that from my dad.

FP: Thank you Nicole for your time! Congrats again on winning Chopped! If we’re ever in your neighborhood, we’ll make sure to reach out to you. We would love to try out your cooking! 

After her victory, Chef Nicole was profiled in the Poughkeepsie Journal. Read the article here


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