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Get to Know Our 2022 Chef Showdown Winner: Nicole McLaughlin

By Hannah Payne on November 8, 2022

Last month, celebrity chefs from across the United States and around the world participated in our 2022 It Starts With a Meal™️ Chef Showdown to raise awareness of global hunger. The chefs competed by sharing internationally inspired dishes in videos on social media, and people voted by liking, commenting and sharing their favorite. After a close competition, Nicole McLaughlin was crowned the winner, taking home the coveted Golden Whisk Award (which you can watch her receive in this video)! 

A few weeks after the competition, we caught up with Nicole on her win, the Haitian-inspired dish she created and why she got involved in the competition. Read more about our 2022 Chef Showdown winner below! 

Congratulations on winning our 2022 It Starts With a Meal™️ Chef Showdown! How did it feel to win the cooking competition and take home the Golden Whisk Award?

You would have thought I won an Emmy or Golden Globe award… I was super excited!

How did you first hear about Rise Against Hunger’s mission? Why did you want to get involved in the work to end global hunger by participating in this year’s Chef Showdown? 

I have a couple of friends from high school who work for Rise Against Hunger and I saw them post about the wonderful work of the organization. I was so excited to have an opportunity to play a small part in raising awareness for Rise Against Hunger’s mission, while also relating it to my passion for food.  

For the competition, you made a Pork Griot Po’Boy, a Haitian-inspired dish with a New Orleans twist. Why did you choose that dish, and why do you love it? 

From the small amount I know of the food from Haiti, I know there is so much flavor through spices and I love the comfort found in a lot of their slow-cooked meat and bean dishes. I had never made pork griot before, but it sounded amazing and right up my alley. I wanted to find a way to incorporate my personality through the execution, and a po’boy is one of my favorite indulgences. I love pairing something less familiar with something more well-known as a way to get people excited to try it. A po’boy is a sandwich filled with perfect bites, from the crusty bread and creamy sauce to the crunchy, cold veggie and warm, rich filling. It all just goes together so well. 

By participating in the Chef Showdown, your culinary skills helped spread awareness about the movement to end global hunger, demonstrating how a variety of skills and experiences can be utilized in the work to end hunger. What would you say to people who are interested in engaging and being part of Rise Against Hunger’s movement to end global hunger? 

So much can be done by simply spreading awareness, making it known to others how many people are in need, how they can contribute and what is necessary to make changes to end world hunger. Once everyone is educated, they can decide which avenue to take, because there’s always a way to help or help by spreading the word. Therefore, this information may be received by those who can help in the greatest capacity. Even the smallest contributions can make a huge difference. 

We are so excited to have Nicole as our Chef Showdown winner this year and so grateful for her participation to help spread the word about our mission to end hunger. Looking for ways to get involved in our mission, too? Check out our How You Can Help page!