One on One with Chef Nicole Davenport

Robbie Hudson, Program Director - 12th September 2012

As a fourth generation Texas rancher, Chef Nicole Davenport is dedicated to ensuring the finest quality of dining for guests. At her restaurant, Sugar & Smoke, located in Fredericksburg, Texas, all of the food is prepared daily from scratch without MSG or processed additives and features local meats and produce. Nicole's triumphs in slow cooking are well established stateside and abroad. She is competing in the upcoming season of the Food Network's Chopped Grill Masters, has been featured on TLC's BBQ Pitmasters and is currently working on a Texas Wagyu cookbook. As the only woman guest chef on the USO Kings of BBQ Tour Kuwait 2010, Davenport cooked for 5,000 troops alongside Tuffy Stone, Johnny Trigg, Myron Mixon and Jamie Geer.  This adventure is currently being edited into a documentary.

What is your favorite kitchen tool and why?
A food mill – it's obscure and makes the best silky textures for soups and other delicious items.

What or who inspired you to want to cook?
My mom who is Dutch/German and an amazing baker. Also at the age of 8, I had my first cordon bleu chicken at Neiman Marcus in Dallas and was so blown away at how the stuffed the chicken with all that amazing cheese. It started a curiosity that is a blazing culinary fire of curiosity for me today.

What is your favorite comfort food? 
A prime flat iron steak medium rare with jalapeño rosemary creamy mashed potatoes, creamed spinach and chocolate pie. 

What was you best meal ever in a restaurant? 
Guest of Daniel Boloud in NY and a 12 course meal with pairings.  Or guest of Jose Andres at Bazaar in LA and it was a 14 course meal.  Mind blowing!

What is your most used or favorite cookbook? 
Silver Palate, La Gastromonique, or Alice Water’s Vegetable Book

What is your favorite herb or spice and why? 
I can't pick one because I am a spice pig. I am heavy handed with spices and use mostly organic because they seem fresher.

What do you like to cook at home and why? 
My kitchen and my dog in the kitchen are very comforting.

What is your "food philosophy"? 
Follow your passion and cook from the heart.

What makes a good chef?
Love of food, love of serving, a good palate, and a passion for learning

How do you relax?
Hike, walk my dog, watch sunsets in west Texas at my favorite hotel, The Gage.

While cooking, what musician or music do you like to listen to?
Jazz

What makes cooking fun for you?
Cooking at beautiful farms for friends or over a campfire in nature.