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Operation Success: Upper West Restaurant (Santa Monica, California)

The Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest is known for cooking up new opportunities for the winners each year. Just ask Nick Shipp, executive chef and partner at Upper West Restaurant in Santa Monica, who landed an unexpected, yet welcome, new role following last year’s contest.

As the West Region Recipe Winner for his Caramelized Mushroom Tart, Nick earned $5,000 plus $1,000 to share with a local charity. He chose St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. After presenting its staff with a check at the hometown celebration held in his honor at the restaurant last August, Nick was approached about serving as a Culinary Ambassador for the charity.

Nick recently shared some details about his work with St. Jude and what else he is up to since his Neighborhood to Nation distinction.

Chef Nick St Jude Event

Chef Nick, pictured here with celebrated pastry chefs Shannon Swindle and Valerie Gordon, at the LA Art Show Opening Night Gala in January.

General Mills: Did you work with St. Jude prior to Neighborhood to Nation? Why did you choose to donate your $1,000 prize to this organization?

Nick Shipp: I had donated money in the past and always had a lot of respect for what St. Jude does—raising funds to help find a cure for pediatric cancer and also ensuring that families with kids at St. Jude don’t have to pay a thing. I have been through cancer twice and, now as a father, I know how scary it can be for a family to go through something like this. To work with an organization like St. Jude, it really means something.

GM: What do you do in your role as a Culinary Ambassador?

NS: I am part of team that helps find new and innovative ways to raise money such as planning special events throughout year like the recent LA Art Show Opening Night Gala where $35,000 was raised in one night. [The 24th annual event includes cuisine from more tan 20 select LA restaurants, special art installations and music to kick off the LA’s longest-running art fair.]

We are in a time where the public is more immersed in the culinary scene than ever before so I am happy to tap my network of chefs and share my skills to help.

Chef Nick Cooking Demo

Chef Nick recently conducted a cooking demo at his son Ethan’s class.

GM: We heard you also shared your culinary skills with another important audience lately, your son’s school?

NS: Yes, I had the opportunity to do a cooking demo at my son’s school for career day. We made hummus for quesadillas. It was special to get to cook for an amazing group of kids and teachers with the most amazing assistant a dad could ask for!

GM: You were the West Region Winner in the Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest for your Mushroom Tart with Tomato Jam, Goat Cheese and Fresh Oregano. Is this dish on the menu at Upper West?

NS: It sure was, for a few months after the contest and got a very good response. We switch out our menu frequently so I am sure it will be back!

Learn more about Nick in this 2018 Neighborhood to Nation video.