Currently one of the principle pastry chefs at the Tulalip Casino and Resort in Washington, Chef Nikol Nakamura leads a strong staff of 12 to tackle the difficult task of operating a 24-hour bakery. Inspired by her late mother’s gastronomic talents, Chef Nikol began her own culinary studies at the Southern California School of Culinary Arts over 12 years ago. Originally, she intended to become a hotline cook but later found an affinity for making desserts instead. It seems that this calling has served her well as she is currently responsible for the menu development, training and hiring of staff, and keeping up to date with the constantly changing pastry trends. In addition to her personal leadership tasks, Chef Nikol and her crew supply products to the casino’s buffet, room service, espresso stands, banquets and three restaurants. Despite the food industry’s apparent downturn since the economic crisis of 2007, Chef Nikol and her team have managed to keep busy and continue to provide delicious post-meal dishes. According to Chef Nikol, the casino provides generous educational opportunities for her pastry cooks and one day hopes that each and every one of them will be a chef in their own right. In the meantime, Chef Nikol is hoping to build and maintain a strong pastry division where patrons can enjoy themselves through the wondrous enchantment of desserts. For this chef, food and service are what’s important, and she advises aspiring cooks to be organized, fair, tough-skinned, and food savvy – as the culinary field is one of the toughest out there – but most importantly, she stresses doing it for “the appreciation of food, not for the money or because you love the Food Channel. Like any dream, pursue it because you love it and with all you have. After all, at least you’re in a field where you will never go hungry!”

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