Nicky Morse is highly enthusiastic about cooking, knowing from a young age that was what he wanted to do. Spending time learning his craft, he perfected it by working in country clubs--sometimes planning and cooking for 18 functions in a single day--hotels, and restaurants, and did freelance chef work for CMT, cooking at the homes of Tanya Tucker, John Michael Montgomery, and more. The work he was doing was very stressful and required long hours, a combination that became impossible to manage when he was diagnosed at the age of 30 with Hodgkin's disease. Forced to abandon his dream, he spent some time teaching at a culinary school before being approached to be JEGS' chef.
Now that he is, he loves that he can work in a kitchen again in a less stressful environment, and relishes finding new recipes to try for the team. He also likes using items from the local markets when on the road (seafood in Seattle, spices from the Southwest, etc.), plus he knows a guy who lets him use a smoker for fantastic BBQ when in Nashville. He grows his own herbs and vegetables and gets the meat from a high-quality butcher.
When we got to the semi, Nicky had already arranged the ingredients for today's lunch--pizza. This is no Domino's fast food stuff, either. Nicky has made his own pizza dough and separated it into balls for each pizza. As I ask him questions about his career, his history with the team, and the kitchen in which he's working, he's put together three deep-dish pizzas: one with aged provolone, mozzarella, and bell pepper; another with bell pepper, sausage, tomato, and onion; and one with bleu cheese, pickled peppers, and spicy sausage. He then makes two thin crusts, one of which is covered with a POUND of pepperoni, just the way driver Jeg Coughlin, Jr likes it. By the time he's done, there are six (or was it seven?) homemade pizzas, and the ones we tried were fantastic.
Just millimeters shy of busting a button, Nicky offered us fresh fruit and blood-orange ice cream for dessert. Okay, it was actually a trio of ice cream flavors that also included chocolate and salty caramel. Also excellent. On several occasions, Nicky has noticed that the smells wafting out of the JEGS rig have drawn other people into their area. Must be something about the mix of garlic and nitromethane.
To check out the latest Team JEGS Recipes by Chef Nicky Morse "The Racing Chef" at http://www.jegs.com/recipes/RecipesHome.html.