Here’s a guy who takes his food seriously – and passionately. Steven D’Angelo has been in Jackson since late 2010 as Executive Chef for Nick’s and the Mermaid Cafe. The west bank New Orleans native says growing up around his Sicilian grandfather’s traditional cooking and his mawmaw’s comfort food hooked him early on. “That table got quiet when she brought those plates out,” he says. “That’s powerful stuff.” And its star power that brought him to Mississippi. After D’Angleo’s Bay City Grill was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the chef says the name Nick Apostle came to him as a potential long-term gig. “He loves the business. He’s someone I can learn from.”

D’Angelo hopes his love of the culinary arts will rub off on his team, wanting to see them go on to open restaurants of their own. It was this ‘inspire and send out’ mentality that helped him work under Chef Emeril Lagasse from 1995-2001 and then a brief stint before moving to Jackson. D’Angleo says he’s not timid, and he’s pushing Nick’s in an exciting direction. “We’re only as good as our last meal,” he says, “and so it matters to me. I take the weight of tradition very seriously.”

Married to his high school sweetheart, Rebecca, who has “stuck with him through many 80 hour weeks,” the father of two says he loves Fondren. “The people are here on purpose,” he says. “There’s a wide appreciation and a greater passion and it reminds me of home.”