A Conversation With: Nicole MarchettiCulinary instructor, The Pennsylvania School of Culinary Arts - division of YTI Career Institute - Lancaster Campus
Nicole Marchetti, 30, won a 2013 episode of the Food Network's “Chopped” and recently joined The Pennsylvania School of Culinary Arts - division of YTI Career Institute - Lancaster Campus as a culinary instructor.
She has served as a sous chef and executive chef at a number of restaurants in the Philadelphia area and elsewhere.
Marchetti earned an associate degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
She and her husband and their 8-month-old daughter live in West Norriton Township, Montgomery County.
Q: How did you come to compete on “Chopped” and what did you learn from the experience?
A: I filled out the application on a whim. One day a message was left on my phone that they wanted me to come in for a face-to-face interview to be on the show. I didn’t think some girl working in a Mexican restaurant in Millville, New York would get picked to be on “Chopped.” My interview was in August 2012 and I wasn’t supposed to film until January 2013, but on Dec. 16, 2012, I get a call asking me if I can be at Chelsea Market at 6 a.m. on Dec. 19. I didn’t get out ‘til close to 10 at night. It’s a one-day filming process from start to finish.
[It] gave me a lot of confidence in who I was. I think I learned how to hold in my nervous tics – I tried not to make it show that underneath the chef’s jacket I was probably drenched in sweat from being nervous. What they don’t show you is, the critique of your food lasts a whole heck of a lot longer. I was fresh out of culinary school. Hearing that from these chefs with all this experience, it helped me learn to keep the emotional part of me in.
Why did you decide to get into the education side of the culinary world?
I looked up to my instructors. I saw how they helped students become young culinarians, and I said to myself, I want to do that. Working in restaurants, being a sous chef, being an executive chef, everyone is looking to you and the other managers for answers so you are consistently teaching, just in your day-to-day process. That solidified me in knowing that’s what I wanted to do.
How important is it for food entrepreneurs to pick the right manufacturers to make their products in larger batches?
It’s huge. Just to get to the bottom line, if you’re small, you need to pick the right manufacturers for your profit margin. If you want to go organic, you have to make sure you have an organic purveyor. A mom-and-pop shop who’s banging out sandwiches every day, making soups and salads for the lunch crowd, might not pick your local purveyor, they might pick Sysco or U.S. Foods. The hipster café selling organic is going to want to go with a local produce manufacturer or even a local farm, for that matter.
If you could learn from any chef in history, who would it be?
Before I went to culinary school I would always watch “Iron Chef,” and I loved it when Cat Cora came on. I don’t know if it was because she was the only female on the show, or if she cooked the Mediterranean food that I wanted to get into, but I loved it. She has a great outlook on the food business and the food industry.