Testa-Nick

Nick Testa

Biography

Taking a job at a local deli in his hometown of Hawthorne, New York at the age of 15 sealed Nick Testa’s culinary path, and he’s been in love with the kitchen world ever since. Before bringing his style of eclectic comfort food to The Bonnie and Sweet Afton (both in Astoria) and The Penrose on New York’s Upper East Side, Nick worked as assistant food stylist for chef Rocco DiSpirito and as sous chef at 83 ½ on the Upper East Side for chef Ryan Skeen, his most influential mentor. He is proud to... READ MORE

Taking a job at a local deli in his hometown of Hawthorne, New York at the age of 15 sealed Nick Testa’s culinary path, and he’s been in love with the kitchen world ever since. Before bringing his style of eclectic comfort food to The Bonnie and Sweet Afton (both in Astoria) and The Penrose on New York’s Upper East Side, Nick worked as assistant food stylist for chef Rocco DiSpirito and as sous chef at 83 ½ on the Upper East Side for chef Ryan Skeen, his most influential mentor. He is proud to have been dubbed winner of Food Network’s Chopped in season 35 (fall 2017), making magic with Szechuan peppercorn buds, dried ants and garlic ice cream in the episode “Weird Twist.” An Astoria resident, Nick can be found in his backyard in the warm months, hosting multicourse dinner parties, building elaborate carpentry projects or playing with his Schnauzer, Norman.

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What is your favorite NYC restaurant? And what is your go-to dish? I love Estela, and I go crazy for their endive salad. When you get an endive leaf with breadcrumbs, walnuts and cheese, it's the perfect bite. It's a perfectly balanced salad. What is your ultimate meal? My killer breakfast has tons of sweet dishes involved: French toast, bacon and cinnamon rolls. I have a serious sweet tooth. What three things are always in your pantry? Hoisin sauce (great for barbecue), cheddar cheese powder (I toss it on anything: popcorn, pasta, potato chips) and everything spice blend (perfect on biscuits or salads, for a little unexpected crunch). If you weren't a chef, what would you be? I'd love to be a sommelier. I just got into wine a little under a year ago, getting to know it, reading about it, listening to what somms have to say at restaurants, gathering information about how vast the wine world is. That's what interests me the most: it's a limitless learning experience. The Four Horsemen and Wildair are a few of my favorite places to drink wine right now. I love picking up new bottles of natural wines at Henry's in Brooklyn and bringing them home to try. If you could cook with anyone, who would that be? I'd love to cook with Action Bronson. He sees everything through a different lens and has a super fun approach to cooking. What’s your favorite NYCWFF memory? This will be my first time at the NYCWFF and I can't wait!

Shish-eetos

Ingredients:

Vegetable oil, for frying
1 1/2 cups corn starch
1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Fresh shishito peppers
Yellow cheddar cheese powder, to taste (available at kalustyans.com)

Directions:

In a deep pot, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil to 350°. In a medium bowl, whisk the corn starch, flours, baking powder and salt together, adding cold water until the batter becomes a heavy paint consistency.

Dip the shishito peppers in the batter and fry, in batches if necessary, until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain the peppers on paper towels and season generously with cheddar powder.