Nick Rabar is no stranger to the limelight – host of the Rhode Island PBS television series Stir It Up With Nick Rabar and Nick Rabar: Chef 2 Go, for which he was Emmy-nominated – but it’s his latest project, called Heated, that takes him beyond his comfort zone. “I’ve always done shows where I’m cooking in front of the camera. But to host a show without the security of the chef’s table? That felt like a challenge,” Nick says.
Nick is the chef and owner of Rumford’s Avenue N American Kitchen and its neighboring market and cafe The Pantry. But his talents extend even further: he is a chef, entrepreneur, television host, published author, husband, father, and runner. The man moves at only one speed: full throttle.
When approached by Rhode Island PBS to host a new series, Nick was ready to do something different. Each episode will center on a particular theme, featuring behind-the-scenes footage with leading experts in the industry. But the real crux of the show is a roundtable debate in which local personalities discuss pressing questions: What is the best pizza? Thick crust or thin? And as you might expect, debates can get heated.
“I wanted a show that’s thought-provoking, entertaining, and showcases other businesses,” Nick says. On September 4, the pilot episode of Heated aired, and it’s all about donuts (or is it spelled “doughnuts”? Find out on the episode). In it, Nick visits three unique operations: KNEAD Doughnuts in Providence, Payne’s Donuts on Block Island, and B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill in Mystic, Connecticut. Interspersed throughout is a discussion: Must donuts be deep-fried? Can a donut be savory – and if so, where do you draw the line? And, for the first time ever, Nick goes on the record and admits he hates coffee milk. “We have so much to fight about!” he says jokingly.
The real aim of the show, however, is not to pit experts against one another but to demonstrate that even though people disagree, it doesn’t mean they can’t be friends. “I would never use the show as a way of tearing people down,” Nick explains. “I know how hard the food industry can be, and I have respect for everyone – if you’re trying, I applaud you.”
The concept has resonated: the pilot episode topped the charts. People want to have these conversations and are excited for what’s in store. The series is slated for another seven episodes, and PBS re-ran the pilot episode of Heated during its pledge drive on November 20.
Circling back to Nick’s (perhaps sacrilegious) beliefs on coffee milk, he says, “In the past I might have been timid to state my opinion, but this show teaches you that it’s okay to stand your ground. I don’t want to be my neighbor – I just want to be me.”