Drag race chef revs up for cooking show

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Nicky Morse, a native of London, preps fruit in his kitchen-on-wheels. Morse is the traveling chef for the JEGS drag racing team. He will be featured in a three-part television series of Fox Sports Ohio.

Drag racing, cooking and travel. These are the three ingredients London native Nicky Morse has whipped together for a three-part television series set to air on Fox Sports Ohio.

The first 30-minute segment airs at 10 p.m. Oct. 8 and at the same time on successive Mondays thereafter. Fox will repeat the three episodes at additional times to be announced.

"Cooking shows are big right now. At the same time, people want to know what’s going on in the racing world. This combines those interests," said Morse, a 1984 London High School graduate and longtime chef.

For the past six years, Morse has served as the chef for the Delaware, Ohio-based JEGS drag racing team. From February through mid-November, he travels with the team on the National Hot Rod Association racing circuit, keeping the JEGS drivers well fed through a 23-race season.

It’s a job that takes Morse to destina-tions throughout the country. Most recently, he was in Memphis, Tenn., Indianapolis, Ind., and Dallas, Texas. The remainder of the 2007 schedule includes Richmond, Va., Las Vegas, and Pomona, Calif. Every-where he goes, Morse meets all kinds of people and makes all kinds of food—fodder for good TV, he figured.

"I’ve wanted to do a TV show for awhile now. We decided to make a pilot and shop it around," Morse said. "We taped it in Belle Rose, La., during JEGS’ Cajun Sports Nationals."

For five days this spring, a six-man production crew followed Morse around Louisiana, capturing the reality of what he does in and out of his kitchen-on-wheels.

"We didn’t script a lot of stuff. They said, ‘Just do what you do,’ " Morse said.

Footage shows the chef shopping for ingredients, meeting the locals, checking out Bourbon Street and, of course, cooking. A recipe featured in one of the segments is seafood quiche with a potato crust and chilled crawfish salsa.

Another recipe, fried alligator prepared with an eggplant Parmesan batter, was the outcome of one of Morse’s adventures on location.

"We went back in the bayou one night to catch alligators…This 16-year-old kid was lying on his belly on the front of our boat and pulling alligators right out of the water," Morse said of the nail-biting experience. "They wanted me to grab one and hold on, but I touched it and that was about it."

Filming also took place at a turtle farm and a crawfish farm, where workers clean 4,000 pounds of crawfish daily.

The footage contains a healthy dose of drag racing, too, as the production team caught the car drivers in action on and off the track. This season has been especially exciting. Jeg Coughlin Jr., a three-time drag racing world champion, is in contention for the title again.

When the pilot footage went out, Fox Sports Ohio liked what they saw. The station created three 30-minute shows from the material Morse supplied.

"To me, it’s like Step 1. Our goal is to have a weekly show where they travel with us from race to race. Our intention is a nationally aired show," Morse said of his television aspirations.

The energetic chef said he has known since he was in diapers that he was born to cook. He got his start as an apprentice at Ziggy’s Continental, a four-star restaurant in Columbus. He went on to work as a chef at private clubs and hotels and freelanced for Country Music Television.

Since landing the JEGS job six years ago, Morse has been featured on the Food Network in a show about "Foods on the Fly" and has worked alongside celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck to raise money for cancer research. Morse is a cancer survivor.

For some of Morse’s recipes, log onto www.teamjegs.com/multimedia/recipes.asp. He has featured one of his own creations, complete with step-by-step instructions and photos, each week of this year’s POWERade Racing Series.

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