The sound of a hot pan sizzling with anticipation for garlic and onions. The smell of right-out-of-the-oven apple pie. Those bright, vibrant colors of fall produce. That feel of hand-made pasta dough in your hands. And that first glorious bite! Nicole Bunting knows that food is a complete sensory experience, and it is this passion she shares with the world. Getting people back in their kitchens, cooking, connecting, and truly enjoying food again is what drives her culinary aspirations.
Nicole is the Executive Chef, Founder and CEO of It’s JUST Food, a culinary services entity that provides custom culinary experiences — such as cooking classes, family dinner parties, or even intimate dinners for one — all in the comfort of your own home. A certified personal chef, she believes that classic cuisine never goes out of style. Nicole was classically trained in French and Italian cuisine at Cook Street School of Culinary Art in Denver, Colorado, and she has formal training in Paris; Cap d’Agde, France; and Parma, Italy.
Bringing LOVE back to mealtime.
Growing up in Royal Oak, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit), food, cooking, and love were just a part of her family life. Her mom made the best apple pie on the block, and her dad, a Detroit City firefighter, loved sharing his recipes from the firehouse. He gained a wealth of culinary knowledge there, swapping recipes with his fellow firefighters. He came home with different recipes, sparking Nicole’s curiosity for new tastes, recipes, and culinary experiences. Growing up, Nicole saw how much joy food brought to people’s lives. Whether it was a freshly baked batch of cookies from her mom or a perfectly barbecued burger from her dad, food was meant to be enjoyed. It is this love of family, food, and connection in the kitchen that stayed with Nicole through the years.
The Evolution of Lasagne.
Nicole’s signature dish started with her mom’s lasagne recipe: a jar of sauce, a box of noodles, cottage cheese, a pound of mozzarella cheese… and it was pretty good. When she went off to college, it was something she’d make often, for herself, for friends, and gatherings. She started to experiment with the recipe, making the sauce from scratch, trying different cheeses. But it was her chance to impress one of the judges at a MasterChef audition that really opened her eyes to the full potential of her signature dish.
“He tasted my lasagne and really liked it, but then he asked if I had used boxed noodles and store bought parmesan cheese (and I did). At that moment, I knew that I had to change the recipe again. I had to learn to make pasta from scratch. And so I did, and never looked back. As my lasagne was evolving, so was my culinary career.”
Now her signature dish is truly something to write home about. Homemade noodles, cheese, fresh sauce — all from scratch. It might have taken a few years to get there, but it’s worth it.
After more than 10 years of running her own highly successful network marketing business, traveling across North America, and inspiring people to their own greatness, it was Nicole’s turn to fuel that fire inside her, but this time for the culinary arts. For over 15 years, she had wanted to go to culinary school, but the timing just never seemed right. When she found herself living as a single in Denver, she knew it was her time. That’s when she enrolled in Cook Street Culinary School — an intensive, hands-on program where she could learn classic techniques in the shortest amount of time. One of the highlights of the program was her time in Italy and France, where she realized how amazing her culinary training in America was, and got to learn a lot of new tricks and techniques from masters who had been making pasta and classic French cuisine for centuries.
It is this love of classic cooking that brought her to Gastronomicom Cooking School, Cap d’Agde, France, for 10 weeks, where she studied French wine, classic French cuisine, and pastry.
“I never want to stop learning about food, trying new recipes and having new food experiences. I believe that food is not just fuel for our bodies. It is a source of pleasure and is meant to be enjoyed. Great, classic ingredients and cuisine will always make me smile, and that is why I want to share my love of classic cooking with the world.”
It’s JUST Food.
Whether it’s teaching cooking classes, or preparing glorious meals in someone’s home, Nicole wants everyone she meets to rediscover that love of food. Her vivacious energy and charm make cooking with Nicole a true pleasure. Her warmth in the kitchen, as she explains how to knead a dough or handle a knife, make anyone feel capable. And, her attitude will truly inspire you.
“I hear people say, they don’t know how to cook, or what to cook or that cooking is so boring. I say, just get in the kitchen with me. We’ll try something. You need to get your hands in that dough. I love when I can show people how simple, classic ingredients, like eggs and flour, can be transformed into this beautiful two-course meal. And, my attitude is — if something doesn’t work (and that happens) — just call the pizza guy, but at least you tried.”
A true personal chef, Nicole takes care of all the grocery shopping and menu planning, and she comes into your kitchen to prepare food just for you. And she loves helping people living alone, like herself, find the joy in their meals again. Nicole knows how tough it can be to cook for one. You get tired of eating out all the time, but don’t want to cook the same thing over and over, or waste food. That’s where she comes in. Bringing people to the grocery store, helping them meal plan, showing them how to cook — all for one. It is a market the culinary world seems to ignore — single-person households — but everyone deserves to enjoy their kitchens!
Just Say “Yes!”
Nicole believes we need to say “yes” a whole lot more when it comes to food. Say “yes” to collaboration, to getting in the kitchen, to eating a variety of food. Indulgence does not have to be a four-letter word. Her vivacious passion and energy comes through every morsel she serves.
“I want my legacy to be that I got people back into their kitchens, truly enjoying food again.”
Culinary Graduate – Cook Street Culinary School, Denver CO
Culinary Graduate – Gastronomicom Cooking School, Cap d’Agde, France
Certified Personal Chef – Culinary Business Institute
Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist – Int’l Sports Science Assn (ISSA)
ISG Certified, Level II Sommelier
Member of the USPCA (United States Personal Chef Association)