Stories / Awards

Our Next Fellow is Ready to Share the Joy of Cooking

Learn more about Nashali Rivera

Morgan Carter

October 07, 2021

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Photo: Clay Williams

For decades, cooking at the James Beard House has been an aspiration for many chefs and is considered a career milestone. In May, we launched the Beard House Fellows program, presented by Capital One, which re-envisions the potential of this historic space into a hub of training and professional development for talented emerging chefs.

The program’s pilot, beginning in May and running through November 2021, launched in partnership with the Food Education Fund (FEF). Our initial class of seven Fellows will all be alumni of FEF’s New York-based partner high schools.

Each Fellow will have a one-month residency at the Beard House, and will receive training in financial and legal matters, public relations, policy and advocacy, social media, and more. Fellows will also develop a Beard Box meal kit in collaboration with Great Performances, available for purchasing and shipping across the continental U.S., and will also include a special gift for Capital One cardholders. Sign up for the waitlist to get your Beard Box.

Meet our newest Fellow: Nashali Rivera. Born and raised in the Bronx, Nashali grew up making a variety of foods alongside her mother, like Puerto Rican pasteles, and watching cooking shows hosted by Julia Child, Jacques Pépin, and Lidia Bastianich. After attending Food and Finance High School and the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (CCAP), she began competing at and volunteering for various culinary events, which eventually led her to pursue a degree at the Culinary Institute of New York at Monroe College. Since graduating, Nashali has held a handful of positions in the industry, including pastry line cook, chef assistant for private events at the Institute of Culinary Education, and catering sous chef at New York University’s School of Law. Looking to start her own business, Nashali hopes to share the beauty and joy of food with her community.

We asked each Fellow a few questions about their culinary dreams and signature dishes. Read on to learn more about Nashali’s favorite ingredients and cooking trends.

James Beard Foundation: Do you have a signature dish?
Nashali Rivera: My signature dish is very simple but it’s one that my family always asks me to make for them—a porterhouse steak seared in my favorite cast iron pan, basted with butter, garlic, and fresh herbs. I usually pair it with some roasted veggies and a creamy starch.

JBF: What is your earliest food memory?
NR: When I think back to my childhood, some of my favorite memories is when I was about five years old, and my mom and I would assemble shish-kabobs and bake oatmeal cookies from scratch.

JBF: What is an item you think everyone should have in their pantry?
NR: I am a very simple chef; I generally like to allow the ingredients and cooking techniques to speak for themselves. But one thing that is vital in my pantry is a mortar and pestle, which we call a “pilon” in Puerto Rico. I love to use it to mash garlic and grind herbs and spices together.

JBF: What is one culinary destination you hope to go to one day?
NR: I love to travel and have been fortunate enough to do so since I was eight years old. One destination that I am very determined to visit is Honolulu, Hawaii. I am so intrigued by the cuisine’s multicultural fusion and diversity. I love watching documentaries about the culture’s food influences.

JBF: What is your favorite or least favorite current food trend?
NR: My most favorite trend is virtual cooking! I believe that it is a great way to exchange recipes that can easily reach and influence so many people.

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Sign up for the waitlist to get Natali’s Beard Box, on sale October 18.

Learn more about the Beard House Fellows program, presented by Capital One.

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Morgan Carter is the content manager at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.