If you haven’t heard of Guy’s Grocery Games, it is a chef’s game show on the Food Network that features culinary artists around the nation to compete in unusual cooking competitions. The game is held in a mock-up grocery store where four contestants battle against each other by shopping, preparing and plating a variety of foods for a panel of judges in just 30 minutes putting their creativity and skill to the test.
In Season 10, episode 1, our resident chef, Nick Martinkovic goes head to head with other chefs to compete for a cash prize of $20,000. A little background on Nick, he is an uh-mazing chef. He is healthy, he is versed in cooking a variety of foods in all manner of styles and techniques, and his home made sauces are out of this world. Even the judges complimented him on his sauce-concocting prowess – “That sauce is not only off the charts delicious, it is gorgeous!” It is truly inspiring to watch him on the show and see how he solves problems with out-of-the-box thinking.
In the first game on the show, the chefs were asked to cook along to the theme of All American Summer with All American Meals. They had to choose two ingredients to use in their first dish. The ingredients included pretzels, chicken sausage, habaneros and pineapple. The host, Guy Fieri, was at the pretzel stand when Nick wheeled by in a flash, and in a spur-of-the-moment decision, Nick took a bag of pretzels without even knowing what to do with them or how to use them in his dish! All that meditation and yoga must have opened some channels of creativity within his mind, because in a last ditch effort, Nick made this amazing romesco sauce to top off his shrimp and sausage sautee with grilled steak and peppers. Did I mention he did this in 30 minutes? In all honesty, if I tried making the same dish, it would probably take me an hour and a half – he is masterful.
Bonus! Here is the recipe:
- sauce romesco yield 1 qt 1 oz portion
- 2 cups tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup red onion, diced
- 1 head garlic, cut in half
- 1/2 jalapeno, seeded
- 1/2 of a baguette or pretzels if you are on guys grocery games
- 1/2 cup evoo
- 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- pinch red chili flakes
- 1 small red bell pepper
Toss all ingredients except sherry vinegar and save half of the evoo until puree. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the bread is golden brown, then puree with evoo and sherry vinegar and season with salt, chill quickly.
Though he didn’t win the competition, he did make it all the way to the final round, and we were happy to see Guy mention that Nick would be invited back to the show. And let me just point out that he didn’t lose because his dish wasn’t amazing, it wasn’t “summery” enough for the judges. Despite the his not winning we feel it was a great experience for Nick – after all, mistakes are good because they help us to grow personally AND professionally…. plus, he gets to try out and perfect new healthy and tasty dishes for us in the office. I promise you, we are the ones benefiting here.
A Little About Nick, our Executive Chef
Nick and his a lovely fiancée, Andrea live a very healthy lifestyle focused on natural whole foods. While Nick cooks everything from steak, salmon, seafood, lamb and gourmet dishes, Andrea and her child are vegan. Nick, being health-minded, can cook up vegan cuisine unlike anyone I have ever seen.
If you watch the Guy’s Grocery Games episode, you can watch Nick work his magic with other dishes such as crispy sardines with anchovy salsa verde, or corn puree with calamari and seared ramps, or his crispy tofu with fried Brussel sprouts.
We are so blessed to have him on our team – he is a delight to work with and cooks a myriad of delicious dishes for our health-conscious Sunlighten family (stay tuned to see some of his delicious takes on quick healthy dishes in our blog).