Cooking It Up with Chris Nance!
An incident with a pop tart at the age of 5 almost ended Santa Clarita native Chris Nance’s interest in food. Fortunately, his mother and grandmother realized they needed to embrace that interest and teach him how to cook. Chris’s dedication to his craft paid off this year when he beat hundreds of other entries to be named 1st runner up in the Create Cooking Challenge 2017.
The Create Cooking Challenge 2017, in its 2nd year and sponsored by American Public Television, is a national video contest seeking out the next great culinary video star. Chris’s prize package includes the opportunity to create a 3-episode web series for CreateTV.com, as well as a cash prize and professional camera equipment. Create is public television’s most-watched multicast channel, airing on 235 public TV stations and reaching 46 million viewers annually.
Chris, a self-taught chef, isn’t new to cooking contests. He and his brother Byron – a frequent cooking partner– entered the Create Cooking Challenge last year and just missed earning a finalist award. Determined to win, Chris entered again when he visited CreateTV.com and saw this year’s contest information. Chris, who watches Create TV on KLCS Los Angeles, was inspired to enter after he saw that some of America’s most iconic chefs, including Lidia Bastianich (Lidia’s Kitchen), Sara Moulton (Sara’s Weeknight Meals), Julia Collin Davison and Bridget Lancaster (co-hosts of America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country), Kevin Belton (New Orleans Cooking With Kevin Belton), and Steven Raichlen (Steven Raichlen’s Project Smoke) would serve as judges.
Demonstrating how to make a professional looking graham cracker crust, (https://youtu.be/ROB5metNs0Q), Chris wowed the judges. Sara Moulton was pleased to share: “I learned something – a great little trick!” Lidia Bastianich also loved his “cool tricks and secrets.” Kevin Belton emphasized, “it’s the little details that make the dishes so important,” while Steven Raichlen said Chris’ “very focused idea was presented well!” Bridget Lancaster liked Chris’ enthusiasm and said, “I like that he brought such detail to a simple but tricky crumb crust.”
A Southern California native, Chris is influenced by a range of tastes and flavors – including family dishes from the southern United States, St. Louis and Chicago, and fusion recipes from North Africa, France, Italy and Asia. With extended family that included multiple generations and seven children, there was always a need for help in the kitchen. Because his mother worked the night shift at the U.S. Postal Service (a job now held by Chris), his maternal grandmother took the lead in the kitchen. Chris credits his grandmother and mother as his culinary inspirations. Thanks to them, he learned how to cook well and enjoy it.
Chris has already mapped out his three-episode web series for CreateTV.com. The first item – the dessert in his three-course plan – is his grandmother’s lemon meringue pie and he can’t wait to share the recipe. “The original recipe is still on a piece of paper written by my grandmother,” explained Chris. She was born in 1911 and that recipe may well be nearly 100 years old! The other two dishes he wants to prepare are a fusion of influences he loves – pulling from old family recipes and adding new or unusual ingredients to give them interesting flavors.
Chris has created a website called www.meluvfood.com where he aggregates a diverse mix of recipes, from barbecue to shepherd’s pie. It is also a place where he likes to share some of the video productions he and his brother have created. While he works nights, Chris saves his days to pursue his passion: creating cooking videos with his brother, being active on social media and running a small catering business on the side. For this foodie, there is no question that he wants people to get to know him, use his recipes, and learn from his work. According to Chris, food is THE answer, whatever the question!