Nathan Lyon is a chef, television personality and the star of the soon-to-be-released show Good Food America on the Veria Living network. In Good Food America Lyon will educate the viewing public about fresh and healthy eating as he travels across the United States. Most recently the chef and co-host of PBS’ Growing a Greener World and a top placer on the second season of Food Network’s The Next Food Network Star, Lyon is also the creator and host of A Lyon in the Kitchen on Discovery Health and Fit TV. Lyon has also penned two books, Great Food Starts Fresh, and a children’s book made in conjunction with his brother Craig, Sam the Clam. He has also cooked for the Inspector General, and is one of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s 2011 Sustainable Seafood Ambassadors.
FE&S: What was your first job in foodservice?
Nathan Lyon: Washing dishes when I was 15 at Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, Va., the city where I grew up.
FE&S: Who in the foodservice industry do you admire most?
Nathan Lyon: I draw inspiration from farmers, fisherman, cheese artisans...the stewards of fresh foods. Furthermore, I am constantly inspired by chefs around the world who use and respect seasonal ingredients. Some of these chefs are Alice Waters, Graham Kerr, and Suzanne Goin.
FE&S: What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Nathan Lyon: To follow my dreams and not let fear get in my way. My Mom shared this with me and it’s what made me take the initial leap into pursuing the culinary arts.
FE&S: Any interesting hobbies?
Nathan Lyon: I am a stained glass artist and also a photographer. In fact, I took all my own photos for my new seasonal cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh.
FE&S: When traveling for business, what is one of your favorite pastimes?
Nathan Lyon: Going to local farmers’ markets to see what produce is on offer around the country and to meet the farmers behind the food.
FE&S: Knowing what you now know, would you still pursue a career in foodservice?
Nathan Lyon: Without a doubt. I love preparing food for people and how, through the medium of food, we are a part of each other’s lives — a birthday, first date, or fiftieth wedding anniversary! I wear the title of chef with pride. Plus, working closely with farmers — preparing their fresh, seasonal produce — is just the best!
FE&S: If I were just starting out in the foodservice industry, what advice would you give me?
Nathan Lyon: Honestly, I would say to pass on attending culinary school. Save your money and instead, stage at restaurants that you admire and aspire to work in. You’ll learn a great deal (for free) and if you show up on time and are able to reproduce what the chef teaches you, you may even get hired!