“I am always looking for new diners and specialty markets to check out for inspiration.”

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Nikalette’s a pro chef cooking up comfort food in Portage Park

Shmeal connects you with the best personal chefs in your neighborhood (like Chef Nikalette), so you can order their meals, and have amazing food experiences every day.

Get to know Nikalette in this Q&A, and order her meals on Shmeal in the Portage Park neighborhood!

Q: What is your cooking background?

Nikalette: I’m a self-taught cook and I’ve been cooking professionally for 5 years. I started as a line and prep cook for a Pan-Asian food truck. I learned so much about Asian cooking, techniques and recipes from my co-workers, my boss, and even my boss’s family. I have always loved Asian food and culture, but after working there I found a new love and respect for it. After my time on the food truck ended, I worked as the head chef at a bed and breakfast where I created recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.

Reviews for Nikalette’s Pumpkin Gnocchi:


“I order just based on the picture and it was beyond amazing!”

Q: Where did you grow up and what kind of food did you grow up with?

Nikalette: I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. My mom was always making roasted vegetables, grilled meats, or the occasional classic midwestern casseroles. My dad was and still is a hunter and fisherman, so we always had fish and wild game to eat. I loved when he would bring home bluegill so we could fry them up, or fresh venison steaks and jerky.

Q: What is your favorite food memory?

Nikalette: When I was a little girl we would drive to my Baba’s house, and we wouldn’t arrive until late at night. So, when we got in she would always have breakfast for dinner ready. She would make me my own stack of sprinkle pancakes with a ton and I mean a ton of powdered sugar and sausage patties on the side. This is probably where my love for breakfast food and diners comes from.

Reviews for Nikalette’s Beef Curry Melt:

“Wow! This was really really good. Even better than the picture. 🙌”


“This sandwich is literally an art piece , the most delicious piece of art in the world. the flavors are all so prominent and the sandwich is so well put together. The bread is crispy even when steaming for 15 minutes for the car ride home , beef was juicy and the cheese was gooey. Would eat a gallon of the potato salad no joke.”

Q: Anything else we should know about you and your cooking?

Nikalette: I’m a grocery store junkie. I love going to different kinds of specialty markets and trying new products or produce I’ve never tried before. Also, a lot of my meals are influenced by classic American diners. Something about them is so nostalgic and comforting to me. Anytime I’m driving I am always looking for new diners and specialty markets to check out for inspiration. So, I’m always experimenting and trying to create recipes that are fun and tasty.

Get Nikalette’s meals on Shmeal, in the Portage Park neighborhood! ❤ Use code NIKA1195 for $10 off your first order.

By Shmeal

The Shmeal Team. 🐖💻
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