Growing up in a military family, Kathy Nicolls was taught to never be afraid to try any food. From a young age, she ate escargot, artichokes, oysters, and frog legs. Things that many adults won’t touch but were common in her house. “We also had to eat everything on our plate, or we couldn’t be excused from the table,” she recalls. She remembers reading Betty Crocker cookbooks for fun and watching her Sicilian grandmother make homemade ravioli on her pasta machine when she came to visit. “The best thing my grandma made was Sunday sauce. It would cook on the stove all day long and we would eat it on rigatoni with fresh pecorino. She also made anise biscotti and the best chocolate chip cookies ever!”
Kathy remembers going to the Navy Officer’s Club as a child and being fascinated with the tableside Caesar salad and Café Diablo Flaming Coffee. Sunday mornings were special to her when her dad would make homemade buttermilk biscuits, apple fritters dusted with powdered sugar, peanut butter waffles and sourdough cinnamon rolls. She always got up early to fry the bacon to ensure that she would get a piece or two before her three brothers and sister snagged it all. “I feel like my mom cooked more as a duty to feed our whole brood, but my dad was more experimental having grown up in the South and because of his military travels, roasting his own peanuts and pumpkin seeds, and making homemade beef jerky,” she says. “I think that military men have eclectic tastes due to all their travelling. I was the beneficiary of that with my dad and was never afraid to try new things,” she laughs.
Her family moved to Coronado in 1976 from Lemoore when her pilot Dad was stationed here. She points out that it was a rite of passage to work at a restaurant growing up in Coronado during that era. She and some of her siblings worked at the Chart House and Mom’s Ice Cream through the years.
At the Chart House, she moved from hostessing to the kitchen where she learned to make the famous mud pie and cheesecakes. She left in 1985 when she got married and they moved to Europe to begin their modelling careers. They helped open Tres Kilos, a Mexican restaurant, in Zurich. She learned by watching and experimenting. She remembers teaching the Yugoslavian cook how to make guacamole. She also traveled through Italy, Germany and Switzerland, sampling ethnic foods along the way, and spent time in Asia as well.
Upon Kathy’s return to Coronado, she worked at Peohe’s, Chez Loma, Quattro Venti Pasta, La Strada and Café Japengo, and decided she wanted to be a personal chef. She was able to pursue being a personal chef while she worked for a family, travelling with them to Mexico, Arizona and Hollywood. Next was eight months cooking on a private yacht cruising though Panama and Costa Rica.
Life changed dramatically after she had her son and started making jalapeno jam in a variety of flavors as well as heart-healthy granolas, which she began to sell online. She worked for a variety of clients, catering to those with special dietary needs, whether it was kosher, gluten free, vegan or allergy specific. “My cooking style is healthy comfort food,” she comments. “There is no culture or food that is not in my repertoire.”
When Kathy started bringing charcuterie boards to share with family and friends at the summer Concerts in the Park, people began asking where they to get them. So Scratch Gourmet expanded to include vibrant cured meat and assorted cheese boards, which include her unique flavors of jalapeno jam, along with honeycomb, mustard, olives, pickles, handcrafted spicy bourbon maple nuts, bread, crackers, and fresh and dried fruits, with a flower and herb garnish; perfect for picnics and parties.
Her personal “go to” foods are tomatoes, mashed potatoes, olive oil and all fruits, but don’t get her started on her disdain for peas and lima beans. “I love the creativity of cooking, just like an artist is creative when painting a picture. It allows me to have a personal connection with people. I put love into everything I make, and I welcome feedback to see if my clients enjoyed the food,” she comments.
Let’s talk about the food Kathy will personally prepare for you on a one-time or regular basis. She offers weekly dinner delivery and a sampling of her fresh, organic selections including Moroccan pomegranate and yogurt marinated tri-tip, Miso and sherry glazed salmon with sauteed shiitake mushrooms and baby bok choy, and Mojo pork with seared avocados and oranges. All of her salad dressings are made from scratch with organic olive oils. Kids’ meals are also on the menu, so everyone in your house will enjoy locally sourced, healthy, gourmet meals. Catering and private dinner parties are also part of Scratch Gourmet’s offerings. As Kathy says, “We love feeding people and believe everything tastes better from Scratch!”
Kathy definitely brings her international palette to her newest culinary adventure. To learn more about her offerings, check out her Facebook page Scratch or her website www.scratch-gourmet.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (619) 987-4912.