press & media
JULY 21, 2022
ALUMNI/AE SPOTLIGHT SERIES
The Alumni/ae Spotlight Series is an opportunity to connect and check-in with alumni/ae since they have graduated from St. Paul Academy and Summit School and highlight the work they are doing in their respective fields and careers. Below you will find some of our recent interviews.
Nicole (Paster) Putzel ’89 is a classically-trained chef, cookbook author, and cooking teacher who is passionate about creating healthy and well-balanced meals for others. Nicole’s journey to where she is today has been filled with many twists and surprises.
Nicole came to St. Paul Academy and Summit School in 3rd grade, where she made many lifelong friendships and met two of her favorite teachers, Mike Brown and Sara Stashower. In the Upper School, Nicole was a multi-sport athlete in soccer, skiing, softball, track and field, and tennis. Art teacher Hazel Belvo helped spark a passion for the arts in Nicole and provided an opportunity for her to “escape into the creative process and block everything else out.” Nicole credits Belvo for introducing her to painting and teaching her about self-care and feminism. Nicole says the emphasis that SPA placed on writing and public speaking skills prepared her to give presentations and cooking demonstrations with confidence.
Nicole attended Boston University, where she majored in broadcast journalism. After graduating from BU, Nicole worked as a reporter and anchor for small news stations across the country in Durango, Colorado and Alexandria, Minnesota. Realizing her desire to live in a big city, Nicole decided to make a career change and moved to Chicago, where her brother Howie ’87 lived, to begin working in real estate. She worked in this field for a number of years before moving with her husband to New York City, where she took cooking classes and ultimately enrolled in culinary school full-time. In 2008, Nicole and her family moved back to Chicago where Nicole continued to pursue her passion; she earned her culinary arts certificate from The Art Institutes Culinary Arts School in Chicago.
Now a mother of two, Nicole has embraced her passion for cooking, teaching, and finding opportunities to support others. Her first job after graduating culinary school was at Common Threads, a nonprofit that works to provide cooking and healthy eating education to underserved communities. She has also taught culinary classes for other non-profit agencies, at her children’s schools, private cooking classes, and published a blog to share her recipes. Most recently, she published her first cookbook: The Seasoned Plate: Delicious and Real Food Recipes by the Season, which was inspired by cooking from her backyard organic garden. On top of all of this, Nicole runs a small meal-preparation business; meals are packaged in glass mason jars to promote environmentally friendly practices. “None of this was possible overnight,” Nicole says, noting that it took more than 10 years for her to get to where she is today.
Outside of cooking, Nicole is passionate about board work and volunteering; she currently serves on a number of boards and is constantly thinking about ways to support the causes that are important to her. Nicole lives in Highland Park, a suburb outside Chicago, with her family she and her husband are now planning their adventures as empty nesters with their last child going off to college in the fall of 2022.
Nicole looks back on her time at SPA fondly and advises current students “be patient with yourself as careers and changes do not happen instantly, but rather evolve over time.” You can follow Nicole’s blog, find fun recipes, and order her cookbook at https://www.putzelkitchen.com/ or by following her on social media @putzelkitchen.
MAY 18, 2020
Spring Asparagus Salad with Za’atar Vinaigrette – Here’s a wonderful take on classic flavors. One of our favorite things about Spring is the arrival of fresh asparagus with beautiful, thin stalks – not at all like the thicker, “woody” variety resembling a baby’s arm you find throughout the Winter months. This was the perfect opportunity to use our delicious premium za’atar seasoning (a staple in Middle Eastern cooking) from our friends at Spice + Leaf. Both artichoke hearts and hearts of palm make an appearance – adding a bit of unexpected flair to the plate. Zesty lemon juice and sweet cherry tomatoes lend a hand here too – making this a tasty representation of Springtime on a plate.
Our first cookbook giveaway this week begins now! Our friend and fellow Illinois resident @putzelkitchen will send one lucky follower a copy of her cookbook ‘A Seasoned Plate’. It’s packed full of delicious, easy, vegetable-focused recipes. We made the Spring Asparagus Salad with Za’atar Vinaigrette – a wonderful take on classic flavors. One of our favorite things about Spring is the arrival of fresh asparagus with beautiful, thin stalks – not at all like the thicker, “woody” variety resembling a baby’s arm you find throughout the Winter months. This was the perfect opportunity to use our delicious premium za’atar seasoning (a staple in Middle Eastern cooking) from our friends at Spice + Leaf. Both artichoke hearts and hearts of palm make an appearance – adding a bit of unexpected flair to the plate. Zesty lemon juice and sweet cherry tomatoes lend a hand here too – making this a tasty representation of Springtime on a plate. For a chance to win, simply follow us (of course!), follow @putzelkitchen and comment below. We’ll randomly select a winner on Monday, May 25th at Noon CST. Open to US residents only. You can also enter code WECOOKBOOKS at https://theseasonedplate.square.site for free shipping with your book purchase! Good luck everyone! What are you excited to eat and/or cook this Spring?
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The Seasoned Plate cookbook featured on Springtime Wellness Must-Haves list.
Today Is A Reason To Celebrate with Amy Zaroff
@The Sister Proj LIVE @ 5 April 24, 2020
JUF News: Cooking with class!
Chicago Food Magazine CFM ASKS
Sheridan Road featuring Nicole Putzel + Claudia Chocano’s cookbook THE SEASONED PLATE.
Highland Park Neighbors & Sheridan Road featuring Nicole Putzel at Highland Park Community Foundation’s Gather for Good Event where she did a cooking demonstration from upcoming cookbook THE SEASONED PLATE.
WTTW Chicago Tonight
Basil Pesto Zoodles recipe featured in Country (Barrington Foodie), Hinsdale Living, Sheridan Road (North Shore Foodie)