When it comes to food and faith, Chef Nikki Heckman has a lot to say. As the owner and manager of Pittsburgh's Bistro To Go, Nikki has been on a journey to create a place where the gospel can be shared and lived out through the daily activities of preparing and consuming food. She was first featured in TCW's October issue on calling. This time we met with her to hear how God has used food in her life and ministry.
Being at the table
Growing up under the care of her Italian grandmother, Nikki had always been surrounded by good cooking. Big meals with family and friends were the center around which her home life revolved. "We were always having these big, long tables down in the basement," she says, "and everybody was coming to eat. Those tables represented to me family, community, and love. Food for me has always been the base of love, and it has always been a communicator of love."
Nikki was magnetized to that sense of fellowship, so when she ended up in Allegheny Center Alliance Church, she was keenly aware that a similar environment was within those walls. Even though she did not share their faith at the time, the sense of fellowship was enough to prompt her to volunteer with their kitchen staff. "I was so enamored with the environment," Nikki says. "It represented exactly what I used to get at that table. There was community, there were lots of people cooking, and the smells were fragrant and so were the conversations. Before long, I came to know Christ."1