Nick Wallace (Nick Wallace Culinary)

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Chef Nick Wallace describes the moment he became the first African American executive chef at the Jackson Marriott Hotel in 2003 as magical.

“I realized what I’m holding down because I’m the first African American to do it, but I’m not going to be the first African American to do it and be sloppy with it,” he says.

Seventeen years later, Wallace has his own farm-to-table business, Nick Wallace Culinary; is a winner of Food Network’s “Chopped: Alton Brown’s Challenge”; and is presently working with “The Help” Director Tate Taylor for a film production project that aims to bring awareness to African American restaurant and business owners.

Growing up on a farm with grandmothers who loved to cook, a sister who did not and a mom who worked two jobs, Wallace was encouraged to be creative and put his heart into every dish. In 2017, his childhood experience motivated him to establish Creativity Kitchen, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching children and staff in the Jackson Public School District how to prepare healthy meals. Today, Wallace offers a taste of what’s to come: details on his opportunity to represent Mississippi abroad and his book, “Rooted,” coming in 2021. — Alyssa Bass

WINNER: Best Chef

Address: Nick Wallace Culinary

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