Kelsey Cooks Own Success Story
Kelsey Nixon (BA ’07) may have majored in broadcasting at BYU, but she had little interest in being a newscaster. She wanted her own television cooking show.
Two supportive teachers, Dale L. Cressman (BA ’85) and Robert Walz (BA ’92), agreed to help her and the result, Kelsey’s Kitchen, ran for two years and 100 episodes on iProvo cable TV. Nixon purchased her own ingredients, enlisted student assistance, provided the on-air talent, and used laundry baskets to haul home dirty dishes
“We located an old infomercial set in California,” she says. “It only looked as if it had a working sink, and from time to time a wall would fall and I’d just go on.”
Three-and-a-half years later, Nixon’s desire for her own professional show is a reality. Kelsey’s Essentials premiered on the Cooking Channel in November and is designed for the do-it-yourself cook who could be helped by learning essential techniques, equipment, and tips for success in the kitchen. Nixon teaches cooks how to be creative in the kitchen without recipes and emerge with extraordinary results. It’s her “dream come true job,” but it required ambition, focus and talent to get there.As a student, she snagged as much experience as possible. She studied at the French Culinary Institute in New York City for three months and interned for Good Things Utah, a morning talk show in ABC channel four in Utah and Martha Stewart Living.
Within a month of receiving her BYU diploma, Nixon headed to California, earned a culinary arts degree from the Kitchen Academy in Hollywood. She also auditioned for a spot on The Next Food Network Star and made Belgian waffles as part of her try-out. Choosing what to prepare was easy. Waffles are one of her favorite foods, and she and her BYU roommates used to make Belgian waffles every Saturday and invite the neighborhood.
Selected for the competition, Nixon placed fourth and was named the fan favorite. While a fourth place finish didn’t land her the cooking show she desired, she still felt lucky. She married Robby M. Egan (BA ’09) and continued working toward her goal. As she waited for her husband to graduate in public relations, she taught cooking lessons, developed recipes for Zupa’s restaurant chain and the Shelf Reliance food storage company, and even worked at a restaurant.
Her biggest break to date came when a contact from The Next Food Network Star was promoted to a new cooking channel. He approached Kelsey, and they started generating ideas. “That was a year ago, and by early spring I had been paired with a production company. I shot a show in July, and it was a waiting game—a tense and exciting game—until it was accepted and premiered in November.”
With her fingers crossed for season two, Nixon says this kind of job will give her an opportunity to have a family and still chase these dreams. Much of her research is done at home, and multiple shows are filmed simultaneously.
“I love this world,” she adds. “Everyone is a real person, not someone playing a character. It’s been such a pleasure meeting so many people who also love to do what I do. ”
Her BYU professors aren’t surprised at Nixon’s success. “She was wonderful and easy to coach,” Cressman says. “She knew what she wanted right from the beginning. She didn’t try to get out of our curriculum; she trained to be a broadcaster. This was her extra-curricular activity. Kelsey is so self-motivated, I expected her success. I think she will have even greater success. With her positive attitude and work ethic, she is bright ray of sunshine wherever she goes.”
Kelsey’s Belgian Waffles
Yield: 4 servings
1 cup buttermilk
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 egg whites
Preheat waffle iron.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg yolks, vanilla, and butter until thoroughly combined. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon; stir into the buttermilk mixture.
In another bowl, whip the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff. Fold into the batter.
Spoon waffle batter onto the hot waffle iron and cook until golden brown. Serve with fresh whipped cream and fresh fruit.