“Eating is a necessity, but cooking is a form of art,” says new and upcoming chef, Nicole Pavlovsky, whose recent Instagram photos have been blowing up on social media and commonly goes by the name “Fresh Chef Nikki”. Who is this “fresh chef” you may be wondering? Pavlovsky is a sweet, laid-back economics and accounting UC Santa Barbara graduate who initially enjoyed cooking as a hobby, but with the encouragement of her friends decided to grace the world with her recipes. Using just an iPhone 6, her Ahi Tuna was the recipe that started it all.
Her Instagram account, @FreshChefNikki, provides countless depictions of fresh, homemade foods perfect for college students. The recipes are made from all-natural ingredients, and she also provides tasty vegetarian options for different preferences. With an emphasis on clean eating, Pavlovsky also likes to remind others about the importance of how the food that goes into your body will ultimately impact the way you feel. Of course, even Nicole is not immune to succumbing to the occasional sweet tooth or indulgent dish. So while her Instagram places a lot of attention on foods that keep you mentally and physically healthy, there is a good balance between cleaner dishes and heavier recipes.
I was given the opportunity to try one of Pavlovsky’s recipes, and if I did not truly believe she deserved it, I would not be writing this article. Nicole invited me into her humble home and sat me down to show me how she makes her own pasta from scratch. After asking me whether I preferred my pasta spaghetti or linguini, she proceeded to work her magic and within 10 minutes, a beautiful and vibrant linguini with fragrant, herby black olive tapenade was placed before me. While having a conversation between two strangers can be slightly awkward, Nicole’s easygoing attitude made the atmosphere and dish much more enjoyable. Because the olives, capers, parsley, sundried tomatoes and goat cheese worked well in bringing out each other’s flavors, the pasta was substantial without being too heavy. The olive oil provided additional flavor, subtle enough to bind the ingredients together. The texture of the sundried tomatoes gave the perfect amount of bite and a hint of smokiness.
For Pavlovsky, cooking goes beyond being just a hobby. Cooking with her mother was a large part of her childhood, and now it has grown into a passion. When someone makes a dish, they are expressing themselves in the form of an edible creation. Cooking as a college student may prove to be difficult as many recipes serve a large number of portions, however, as a recent graduate, Pavlovsky understands the struggle of finding suitable recipes. Her Instagram and upcoming blog will address these common issues by providing a wide spectrum of recipes that range from creating simple to more intricate dishes, a small number of portions to a large number of portions and, of course, foods that will help you get that summer body. While her Instagram posts most definitely awaken your appetite and cravings, they are also aesthetically pleasing to the eye, so even those who are not necessarily interested in cooking should still follow this amazing UCSB alumna.