If you happen to be the kind of person who likes to put labels on people, you might be tempted to dub Nick Scime “the great connector.” In 2012, Nick retired from his 35 year career as Community Development Business Consultant with the city of Hamilton, a “challenging” yet “refreshing” job in which he worked with 105 community groups. His new career is as a chef/caterer/educator, a complex balancing act of various roles that once again lead back to the connecting of a variety of groups — this time in a largely educational context.
In between, Scime’s working life has branched out into some surprising areas: a short stint as a mini-train driver at Puddicombe Farms (“I have a passion for trains — my wife and I take lots of train trips.”; a writer of children’s books (two published, so far); and a long term position as a certified Community Food Advisor for the city of Hamilton.
Scime’s longstanding interest in food preparation became a practical necessity after a divorce in 2000 left him as a working single dad with three young boys to feed. His earliest menus made much use of the rice cooker and the slow cooker. All changed after a 2005 food and wine trip in which he explored the cuisine of Sicily. And his horizons expanded further with a cooking-based trip to Naples two years later and another visit to a monastery in India, a time in which he cooked all of the meals along with a group of Buddhist monks. At one point, Scime even worked in the exalted kitchens of the Holland America Lines. His role as a Community Food Advisor for the city is particularly interesting. Community Food Advisors are volunteers who are trained in the safe and nutritious selection, preparation and storage of food. They give talks and demonstrations to groups of 15 or more on numerous topics, some of which include “Healthy Eating on a Budget”, “Healthy Eating for Seniors”, “Low Fat Cooking” or “Cooking for One.”
Somehow, in the meantime, Scime did complete a year of culinary school (“I retired at the end of August and my classes started on September 4th.”) and he now has his own catering company called “The Five C’s of Cooking.” The catering company does demonstrations and workshops at both the downtown Farmers’ Market and at Mohawk College — and now — at our Go Cooking kitchen. They also will come into people’s homes or businesses and do private parties. And if this doesn’t keep Scime busy enough, he also hosts cooking demonstrations on Cable 14’s “Hamilton Life” with Linda Rourke once a month.
“The new career is about the same, ” Scime muses. “It’s all about connecting groups and people. The really creative part is working with the group dynamic and trying to build a good dialogue with an audience.”
His culinary philosophy is simple and straightforward: He designs menus that are based on themes and believes in effective but realistic cooking. He says about our up-coming menu with its pork tenderloin entrée:
“I could have done this with wild boar — but let’s face it, everyone can get pork tenderloin. Then, all you have to do is look in the refrigerator and see what’s available to construct a stuffing.”
“People need to relax,” he says. “A recipe is not a law. Cooking should be exciting and if you make a mistake there is always Pizza, pizza.”
Did I mention that he has written two children’s books? One of the books, called “Over the Mountain in 21 Days” is a charming story centered on a journey of a father and son through the mountains of Tibet and India. The book is written in two languages, Tibetan and English, and is used as a unique language learning tool. Scime’s next goal builds on this skill He has written another illustrated children’s book focused on recipes, families and cooking, and is hoping to sell the book and share the profits with a local charity — perhaps Ronald MacDonald House.
We are looking forward to joining Nick at our Go Cooking session on September 17th and here’s a preview recipe for his appetizer.
Brussels and Cheddar Bruschetta
from Chef Nick Scime
1 lb Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large purple onion, finely diced
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
4 slices multigrain bread, toasted
4 oz extra-sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the Brussels sprouts until they are just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
2) Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, cover and cook over low heat stirring frequently, until the onion is tender, about 10 minutes. Add a little water if the onion dries out.
3) Add the Brussels sprouts to the skillet and cook until tender throughout, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
4) Arrange the toasts on a baking sheet and top with the cheddar. Bake for 2 minutes until the cheese is melted; mound the Brussels sprouts and onions on top and serve.
Sounds like a great plan for those who love Brussels sprouts (count me in!). Can’t wait to try this on Wednesday.