Kathi Barrington 2016-12-08 06:20:55
CRACKPOT KITCHEN CHEF NIK, ALL SIX FOOT FOUR OF him, strides into the office, bursting with energy and enthusiasm. He always seems to crackle with energy. Nikita O’Neil Skippings, aka Chef Nik, is the star of the first cooking TV show to be aired here in the TCI. He hosts and cooks on the Crackpot Kitchen Cooking Show. Born in Freeport, Bahamas, Nik and his mother moved to South Caicos soon after his birth. He attended Iris Stubbs Primary and Marjorie Basden High School. Chef Nik has been cooking since he was a kid. His Mother worked shifts as a police officer, so he sometimes prepared meals for his younger siblings. “I burned a lot of rice along the way,” he admitted. Regardless, it came to the point when the kids would ask Mom to please let Nik do the cooking. In high school he opted for food courses, impressing his teachers with his skill and know-how. After graduating from high school, he came to Providenciales to work in his Father’s restaurant - Smokey’s on the Beach. There he learned the traditional ways to cook red beans and rice, okra and rice, stewed conch and conch fritters, not to mention fish and grits and red bean soup. He gained an appreciation for seasonings in these dishes - the fresh thyme, chopped garlic, and homemade hot sauces. For four years he cooked with his Dad, where he became a ‘rice architect.’ Then he moved to an internship with Beaches, where he expanded his horizons learning to prepare other cultures’ traditional dishes. He spent a month in each of the restaurants open back then - Italian, Japanese, French, and others. After 15 months he returned to Smokey’s to show his Dad what he’d accomplished and soon went on to the Pelican Bay Restaurant on Grace Bay, as their sous chef. By the end of 2012 Nik was working on his catering business and the concept for the TV show. The name: Crackpot Kitchen Catering Services and Crackpot Kitchen Bar & Grill stem from his habit of ‘waking up’ a pot of rice by sharply rapping the pot with a metal spoon. He was continually admonished by his staff that he was going to crack that pot one of these days. In addition to these enterprises, Nik, a father of six, runs a Cooking Camp in the summer. His students, ranging from 10 to 18 years old, learn how to prepare their native dishes, with the distinctive Chef Nik twist.The last course was packed - 31 eager students with more on the waiting list. This local celebrity chef said: “Food and I have a relationship. We are deeply in love with each other.” His unscripted cooking show is part comedy, part cooking. He likes to make people laugh, and he plays with foods “to create a party in your mouth.” Guests on the live show taste and tell at the end of each program. In the summer of 2014 Chef Nik launched his signature Crackpot Kitchen Tropical Tamarind BBQ Sauce that is receiving rave reviews from locals and tourists alike, while being sold in the USA and Canada online at www.crackpotkitchensauces.com. Be sure to get your hands on “the most popular sauce I know.” Chef Nik loves to share, which makes him an excellent ambassador for TCI cooking, and by extension, TCI culture. So it came as no surprise when he was awarded the title Turks and Caicos Islands Culinary Ambassador on July 1st 2015. His primary objective is to showcase and promote the cuisines of this country, both locally and internationally. He said: “Cooking isn’t a job to me, it’s a passion.” That passion shows in all his different culinary businesses and roles: the Cooking Show, Catering Services and Restaurant, Crackpot Kitchen BBQ Sauces and as TCI’s first Culinary Ambassador. Enjoy the show and the sauces, but better still, enjoy his cuisine, at Crackpot Kitchen Restaurant Bar & Grill, upstairs in Ports of Call, on Grace Bay. STORY BY KATHI BARRINGTON
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