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Food Network Star Nick Wallace Talks Cooking Competitions and Giving Back on MFP Live 

Fresh off his recent stint on Food Network’s “Top Chef,” Nick Wallace is well known now as a fan favorite on the popular cooking competition, but his heart is still at home in Mississippi, where he first learned to cook in his grandmothers’ kitchens. In his career as a chef, Wallace continues to draw from those lessons about the value of fresh, nutritious foods and the best ways to prepare them that he learned in those Mississippi kitchens. He takes those foundational lessons and combines them with French culinary techniques in a way that elevates standard southern dishes into creations that he calls “modern Mississippi cuisine.”

In the past eight years, Wallace has made a name for himself in the world of television cooking competitions, having competed on “Comfort Nation,” “Chopped,” “Cutthroat Kitchen,” “Firemasters,” “Unexplored America–Mississippi,” “50 States 50 Chefs,” and most recently, season 19 of “Top Chef.” In Mississippi, though, he had already established himself as a local favorite. 

Before starting his own culinary business, Nick Wallace Culinary, in 2014 and opening Nissan Cafe by Nick Wallace in 2021, Wallace held the position of executive chef in some of the city’s finest hotels and cafés. Jackson Free Press readers named him Best Chef in Jackson four years in a row, and Best Chef in Mississippi in 2020. Wallace has also had the honor of presenting Mississippi-themed dinners at the James Beard Foundation in New York City on five occasions.

Wallace, however, is not content to simply build his own career and reputation as a renowned chef. He is committed to giving back to the people of the state he loves. One way he does this is through his nonprofit organization, Creativity Kitchen, which works with chefs in the Jackson Public Schools to ensure that students are receiving daily meals that are both nutritious and delicious. Wallace also  speaks to school groups about the farm-to-table process of how food arrives on their plates. He hopes to instill in them the practical value of growing their own fresh vegetables.

During Jackson’s extended water crisis of 2021, Wallace partnered with World Central Kitchen as well as nine other Jackson restaurants to provide more than 5,000 meals for families in need. Wallace hopes to further expand the scope of his community involvement through culinary mentorship and education programs.

To learn more about Nick Wallace and what’s next for him, tune in to MFP Live on the MFP Facebook page or YouTube channel on Thursday, July 7, at 6 p.m. CDT. You may even learn why the other Top Chef “cheftestants” gave him the nickname “the Baker.”

This MFP Voices essay does not necessarily represent the views of the Mississippi Free Press, its staff or board members. To submit an essay for the MFP Voices section, send up to 1,200 words and factcheck information to We welcome a wide variety of viewpoints.

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