I recently had the pleasure of meeting with the wonderfully talented Chef Nilka Hendricks, while on the set of Sistah Talk TV. In case you don’t own a TV, Chef Nilka was a participant of the culinary Realty TV hit Hell’s Kitchen. Always determined and never deterred, Chef Nilka auditioned for the Fox Network Program “Hells Kitchen with Chef Gordon Ramsey. After completing a rigorous selection process, she was cast as one of 16 contestants on the highly rated program. Nilka, a fan favorite of season 7, was infamous for her affable personality and evident passion for pursuing her dreams of becoming a master chef. Within a short time of leaving the Hell’s Kitchen, she became Executive Chef of Retro Lounge inFreeport,New York. After 15 minutes of chatting with her and one bite of her gourmet “Crack n Cheese” it was clear that Nilka not only achieved her goal to become a reputable chef, but is also pushing new boundaries to seduce your taste buds.
As Executive Chef and Owner of Chef’in It Up! Catering, Chef Nilka Hendricks has realized a dream that began to take shape only as a young adult. Fueled by a life – long passion for cooking, Chef Nilka, a graduate of the Culinary Academy of Long Island, knows her motto “Changing the world 1 dish at a time” is a laudable goal. With a focused energy she is determined to do just that. Whether catering an intimate dinner, a private party, a charity event, or facilitating a culinary workshop, she endeavors to spread love and community through her palate-stimulating array of choice dishes.
Let’s check in with the chef and see what’s she’s been up to!
JenniFDB: As someone that can burn water, I always find it interesting (and delicious) when I meet people with a natural talent for cooking. When did you decide to pursue a career in the culinary arts?
Chef Nilka: I really enjoy making people happy and I loved watching how much my family and friends enjoyed the dishes I prepared for them. It inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and let others try my cooking. Once I saw that people, other than my family actually enjoyed my cooking, the wheels in my head started turning. I said to myself “I can make a career out of this”. I look at this passion, as a way to leave my mark on the world.
JenniFDB: A lot of people don’t realize that they could get paid to do what they love. What advice can you offer for aspiring chefs?
Chef Nilka: My advice to aspiring chef’s: make sure that this job is for you. It can be a very rewarding business but it can also place a lot of demands on your time with family and friends. Your personal life will take a hit, but it’s definitely worthwhile if it’s something you love to do
JenniFDB: Weight loss and fitness goals are big everyone’s to do this list at this time of the year, can you offer some advice on small dietary changes that have a big impact?
Chef Nilka: Weight loss is on the top many peoples’ to-do list once January hits. I think the only way to accomplish lasting weight loss is to stay true to you and think about the small steps that can be made to move toward having a healthier lifestyle. We can’t change overnight. Everything happens in time. Natural and healthy cooking is my top priority. You can check out my site at www.chefnilka.com for healthy recipe’s that are full of flavor!
JenniFDB: How has life been for you post Hell’s Kitchen?
Chef Nilka: A lot has been going on since I appeared on Hell’s Kitchen. After HK, I became an Executive Chef at a restaurant and lounge in Long Island. I have now launched my own Catering Company called “Chef’in it Up” Catering. My company offers a variety of services; from personal chef catering in the home for intimate dinners for two to large parties. We offer weekly preparation of individual meals catering to those with busy lifestyles and cooking classes for those who want to sharpen their culinary skills.
I also have a passion for music I can’t do one without the other. Music feeds my culinary creativity. I also hosted a “Food for Soul” Open Mic inLong Island, with a friend by the name of Classic Tone. This event was created to give Indie artists an outlet to express themselves. I have worked with other Independent Artists and shot music videos. These videos appear on my various social media sites and include the hot tracks “Which way does she Go from here and “Final Destination. I’m also a co-host on the real radio show, which airs every Monday at www.therealradioshow.com and is broadcast live on Saturdays on Classic Rock WRCN 103.9
JenniFDB: What was the most valuable thing you learned from your experience on reality TV?
Chef Nilka: The most valuable thing I learned is that nothing is impossible if you follow your dreams. You have to push fear aside because fear only blocks your blessings. You have stay true to yourself and reach for more than what you see directly in front of you. Have faith in those things unseen.