Even as the nation confronts some difficult differences between people and seeks to unify the public behind noble causes, there are still a few things that bring many of us together. First of all, many of us miss sports on television. When the cable sports networks intentionally run pro bowling tournaments during primetime and only semi-ironically air Sunday blocks of competitions in sports ranging from cherry pit-spitting to rock skipping to sign spinning, you know times are tough for rabid sports fans.
Second, there are a lot of people still struggling to learn how to cook from home. Admit it, you stopped feeding your sourdough starter after about week 5 of the pandemic, and that’s OK. We all have different priorities right about now. Watching most cooking shows and online tutorials can be intimidating because the chef/teacher always makes it look so easy and can always just yell “Cut!” and start over if he/she messes up. What we need is an everyman trying to cook the same way that we’re trying to do.
That’s where Nick Bonino comes in. The scrappy bottom six center for the Nashville Predators’ hockey club comes across as an authentic down-to-earth kind of guy. He looks like your middle school band teacher and is known for having a great sense of humor. He’s showcased his wit in several videos that the Preds have released over his years with the team where he goes incognito to play fun tricks on his teammates. Here he is going in disguise as a fan to trick his coworkers at a team Meet-and Greet event. And check out Bonino and his wife dressing up as autograph seekers to beg his teammates for signatures as they entered the team’s annual Halloween Party that the Boninos would be attending immediately after the prank was over. His fellow Preds that blew off his autograph requests certainly had some explaining to do that night!
These factors make Nick Bonino the ideal first guest for a new cooking show produced by the National Hockey League called “Skates & Plates” to keep their fans entertained while they wait for the puck to officially drop again sometime later this summer. The idea behind the show is to pair up NHL players with notable chefs to learn how to cook a signature dish while connected on a video call. In the series’ debut episode, Bonino was paired with chef Ludo Lefebvre to cook a dish from Lefebvre’s Los Angeles restaurant, Petit Trois.
In the video, Bonino is resplendent in his own personalized chef’s coat, and admittedly his “everyman” status is a bit diminished when you see the amazing kitchen that Bonino has in his Nashville home. But Bonino doesn’t deserve any time in the penalty box for that infraction, because chef Ludo has the audacity to be decked out in the sweater of his own home team, the LA Kings. (Boo, hiss!) Still, the two chefs have an excellent rapport, passing jokes back and forth as they each prepare their own version of steak Diane and pommes frites. Bonino is particularly taken with the Diane sauce, a rich flambéed concoction of mustard, butter, shallots and Worcestershire sauce, and he proves to be quite capable in the kitchen … as long as you disregard a small smoke alarm incident while frying up the pommes.
In the end, both plates looked delicious, and Bonino now has a new go-to sauce. The centerman clearly knows his way around a kitchen and admits that he once honored his Italian heritage when he ate pasta straight out of the Stanley Cup that he won when he was a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins (Boo, hiss, again!) If you really want to learn how to create the dish that Bonino and Lefebvre prepared, it’s possible to cook along with the video, but it would probably be best to watch the whole thing first so you know in advance what ingredients you’ll need and what’s coming up next. You can also check out the recipe online here to put together a shopping (and chopping) list.
“Skates & Plates” originally aired on NBCSN and Sportsnet. NHL Network, but is now available online at the NHL’s website. In episode two, chef Marc Forgione will New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba on how to prepare one of his favorite dishes from Forgione’s eponymous New York City restaurant. That should be fun, but not nearly entertaining as watching chef Bonino try to burn down his kitchen!