Who Is Paleo Nick?
I'm a Cook.
I'm a CrossFitter.
I'm your guide to Culinary Fitness.
I've always loved to eat, and, after getting a job washing dishes at an Italian Restaurant, I was infected with a love of all things food. Through my teenage years, I ate copious amounts of pasta, giant meatballs, chicken parmesan, pizza, spinach and artichoke formaggio, garlic bread, and the delectable Italian desserts, Tiramisu and Tartufo.
I worked my way from dishwasher at age 14 to head cook at age 18 and, after reading a few "Chef Books", I decided to enroll in Culinary School.
My life up to that point was like the guy in the circus who climbs down inside the cannon, ready to fly as far and as high as life would shoot me, confident that the net would be there for me when it was time to land. And, that was just the approach that I took.
The father of my high school friend once told me, "the difference between who you are today and who you'll be in ten years is the people you meet and the books you read." If that is the case, then I would argue that I am quite different than I was when the cannon went off. I have had the privilege of meeting some of the most interesting, amazing, and influential people to walk the earth. And, I've read some pretty great books too. But, there is also the Dave Matthew's lyric that says, "Every day things change, but basically they stay the same."
So, deep down, I am just a Minnesotan who lived the first twelve years of my life in Fargo, North Dakota and the last twelve years of my life, as I write this, split between Colorado and Alaska.
I have an amazing wife, Jessica, and two busy boys, Samson and Jonas.
Do you know how to cook?
Well, that depends on who you compare me to, but, I'd say, "yes." Although I've worked as a Private Chef for the past five years, I don't refer to myself as a chef. The term Private Chef is a bit of a misnomer, as the word Chef comes from "Chief", as in the head of a tribe or group. You typically earn the position by showing your cooking prowess, but in many cases, a Chef does not cook at all.
A word that I am more fond of is cuisinier, which translates from French more closely as cook, you might say it is someone who cooks well. So, all that said, I have extensive experience in restaurants and am comfortable cooking a nice meal for two or a large feast for 500. I worked at least one job while attending Culinary School and found that combination to be very intellectually stimulating. It was easy on the grocery bill, but tough on the waste line, and yes, I learned how to cook.
What is your cooking style?
Another loaded question, but here are a few sentences to describe Paleo Nick's cuisine.
First and foremost, it's Paleo. I believe that we were designed to eat clean, nutrient dense, sustainably sourced foods. I have an affinity for Alaskan Seafood, Wild Game, and Organic, Grass-Fed Beef.
I believe in sustainability and source my groceries locally whenever possible. I have garden that I am learning to tend. I buy organic chickens and eggs from a local farmer as well as organic, grass-fed beef. I do not buy or eat farm raised fish or shrimp.
Tell me more about your experience with Alaskan Seafood.
I've caught Halibut out of Kachemak Bay. I've angled Red, Silver, and King Salmon out of Bristol Bay, Resurrection Bay and Prince William Sound.
I've pulled shrimp pots through 400 feet of ice cold water to partake in the bounty of Alaskan Spot Shrimp and Stripers.
I spent three summers of my life on the Naknek River, two while cooking at a fish processing plant and one while running the kitchen at a 50 room hotel, which has since burned down.
Then, there's the Oysters, the Scallops, the King Crab... Did I mention King Crab?
I would be willing to bet that the Culinary School at the University of Alaska Anchorage is the only one in the world where the students are blessed with the privilege of eating fresh, Alaskan King Crab. I partook in this delicacy and it was an experience I will not soon forget. Even if I fall off the Paleo wagon and end up with Alzheimer's , I'll still be able to recount pulling the leg from the body, fresh out of the steam jacketed kettle, the quarter pound knuckle of steaming hot, fresh, Alaskan King Crab staring me in the face and the Garlic-Infused-Drawn-Butter... I'll stop there.
Let's just say, I've experienced Alaska's Seafood, I feel confident cooking it and teaching others how to cook it, and, most importantly, I love to eat it!
Which was more valuable, Culinary School or Restaurant Experience?
Good question. The answer is both.
It is like asking, "Which is better, the Zone Diet or the Paleo Diet?" If you can handle both at the same time, you will benefit exponentially from their synergistic sum.
Besides, I studied for a minor in Spanish, so, working side by side with those I could practice a second language with was invaluable to me.
If I had to pick one, it would be restaurant experience. Trial by fire baby!! Literally. I've worked in 160°F kitchens from noon until 2:00am, it's tough to mimic that environment in a pedagogical setting.