You may recognize Chef Nathan Lyon from his appearance on the second season of The Next Food Network Star (he was one of the final four) or as the host of Good Food America, and chef and co-host of Growing A Greener World, where he shares his passion for using fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients to make simple, innovative meals. We asked Nathan to let us in on his cooking style and more.
Chef Chat: Q&A With Nathan Lyon

Our annual Savor the Central Coast food and wine event will take place September 26-29. In anticipation, we’re going behind the scenes with celebrity chefs who are giving live cooking demonstrations at the event. 

You may recognize Chef Nathan Lyon from his appearance on the second season of The Next Food Network Star (he was one of the final four) or as the host of Good Food America, and chef and co-host of Growing A Greener World, where he shares his passion for using fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients to make simple, innovative meals. We asked Nathan to let us in on his cooking style and more.

What’s your favorite local ingredient from the Central Coast region?

Many of the farmers that I buy from at the farmers markets in Los Angeles are from the Central Coast region and I can say with conviction that their produce is always amazing. I love checking in each week to see what’s on offer and experiencing the best of the Central Coast. To choose one delicious ingredient is simply impossible! Of course, let’s not forget about all the fabulous Central Coast wines which I am personally looking forward to trying at Savor!

What’s your favorite thing to cook this time of year? 

Usually at this time of year, we are experiencing the last days of the September summer heat, so I love preparing dishes that use the abundant summer harvest and are also cooling to the body. One such recipe comes straight from my seasonal cookbook “Great Food Starts Fresh”: my spicy watermelon gazpacho soup. With a flip of the switch on your blender you can have this vibrant soup for you and your guests in seconds. It’s a sweet way to bid farewell to the summer.

What’s one easy tip for the home cook who wants to eat fresh, but doesn’t have much free time?

Keep it simple. Many of us feel it necessary to go crazy in the kitchen with too many ingredients. You don’t need a lot of time or ingredients to prepare amazing food. When your ingredients are picked at the peak of their flavor you don’t have to do much to make them delicious – because they already are. For example, a seasonal vegetable sauté with extra-virgin olive oil, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and fresh torn herbs topped with a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is not only simple and quick, but healthy and delicious.

Can you preview what you’ll demo at the event?

I’ll be preparing a few tasty dishes using wild Alaskan Copper River salmon for Saturday’s sustainable seafood demo, and on Sunday, I’ll be teaching how to create a great end-of-summer grilled rosemary and fresh herb chicken dish, paired with a spiced corn and black bean salad, that I hope will quickly become your go-to in the kitchen.

What has been your favorite live-cooking moment? Most embarrassing moment?

One of my most favorite live-cooking moments was at Savor last year. Everyone in the audience was smiling and they all looked so happy that I just had to snap a quick photo to capture the sweet moment! (See below) Everyone who comes to Savor has a real knowledge of and/or love for delicious food and wine. It’s a wonderful group of people who celebrate good food. My kind of people!

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