We had the good fortune of connecting with Nikki Prantil and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nikki, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I’ve always considered myself.a creative person, and having a creative outlet to express myself was very important to me throughout my upbringing. When I went to school for engineering and then began working in a very technical, corporate field, I turned to cooking to give myself a space to create something new every evening after work. As I got more into cooking, I would speak to family and friends who were constantly expressing how challenging cooking was to them and how they didn’t enjoy it, and I thought “If I could only show people how easy it is to create really incredible meals at home, and how enjoyable cooking can be, I think I could change their minds!” So I decided to create an Instagram account and start sharing easy, unique vegetarian recipes with my family and friends that proved that cooking meatless meals at home was a lot more than just salads. Ever since then, Nikki’s Natural Kitchen has grown to far beyond my family and friends, and I consider myself so lucky to create recipes that people bring into their homes and bond with their families over. And if I can convince even a few people that cooking can be simple, pleasurable and fun, then it was all worth it!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Nikki’s Natural Kitchen is my side hustle. I work full time as a Commercial Manager for a Power Equipment Services company in the Energy Industry. My day job is extremely tactical – I manage processes, negotiate contracts, write proposals, and mitigate risk for the sales organization. Each day when I log off my day job, I decompress in the kitchen. I like testing out recipes that I’ve never seen before, or I draw inspiration from other creators on Instagram, or I see one ingredient in my pantry and try to shape an entire meal around it. Recipe testing, food photography and videography, and teaching others to cook is my passion in life, and allows me to utilize the creative side of my brain and feel like I’m helping others at the same time.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
An ideal weekend in Denver would begin with a hike outside the city to show my friend that Denver is more than just an incredible city – I’d bring her to either Isabelle Glacier Trail or Chief Mountain Summit. We’d grab bagels at Rosenburg’s for the hike. Tapas and cocktails at El Five are a must, with a nightcap at Williams and Graham. Coffee and breakfast at Carbon Coffee or Downpours Coffee in Berkeley would be followed by day drinking at Denver Beer Co., Carboy Winery, and Avanti F&B. Pizza at Cart Driver and ramen at Uncle, cocktails at Lady Jane, Room for Milly and the Broken Cage, and ice cream at Little Man are all highly recommended. We’d walk Tennyson St. and stop for some BBQ at Post Oak or vegetarian / vegan eats at Vital Root, and grab some Mile High Fungi mushrooms at the Highland Farmers market for a homemade pasta and mushroom dish for dinner at home.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My father was raised in a first generation Italian household in Brooklyn, NY. My grandparents moved to the States and lived the typical immigrant story – they worked extremely hard to make ends meet to create a better future for their children. Though I could never communicate fluently with my Nonna (grandma), my memories of her involve our family sitting around the kitchen table or watching her in the kitchen, cooking chicken cutlets, baked ziti, minestrone, fried broccoli, and so many other incredible and authentic Italian foods. My dad learned to cook from my Nonna, and he carried on her legacy by cooking fresh and authentic meals for our family. As I grew up, I soaked up every bit of cooking knowledge from him I could like a sponge. In my family, food was always how we bonded. Sitting around the table to enjoy a home cooked meal was how we connected with each other, and I strive to emulate that environment in my adulthood and with my future family. I think by watching my Nonna and my dad cook, they showed me that if you can understand the basics, practice, and be okay with sometimes failing — truly anyone can be a great cook, and I want to teach that to others too.