Yakima home chef competes on television’s MasterChef competition
Yakima, Wash. — A local chef is making a difference using his experience on a popular TV show to help his community in its time of need.
Home chef and Yakima native Shawn Niles earned himself a top 40 spot in a nationwide competition.
“MasterChef is the biggest cooking competition in America and over 34,000 people tried out for this season to come on into cook for some of the best chefs in the world, Gordon Ramsay, Aaron Sanchez, Christina Tosi, and to show their skills and it’s all for home chefs it’s not for professional chefs,” said Niles.
On Wednesday, Hoptown Wood Fired Pizza in Wapato hosted a viewing party for the local chef’s TV debut.
Family, friends and strangers, frozen with anticipation as they watched Niles compete.
However, he isn’t just a home chef.
“I pastor a church in Yakima call Dad’s House,” he said.
However, that doesn’t explain why he calls himself the “Fat Pastor.”
“A lot of people ask me why the Fat Pastor? Some people think it’s a negative thing, and to me that in many cultures represents goodness, it represents vitality, it represents a full life and of course if you are cook, then you know that the fat is where the flavor is,” said Niles.
At Hoptown, their newly created “Fat Pastor” pizza packs in all the flavors the pastor loves.
However for him food, is how he hopes to make a difference.
“Yakima is going through a lot of hardships right now, there’s a lot of violence, a lot of difficult things that are taking place in our community,” he said.
“We are looking at putting together a program that will help kids in our community that maybe are at risk or going through different hardships,” said Niles.
When it was time to learn whether or not he would move on in the competition, the room was still once again.
Followed by a loud cry from the crowd, he had lost round one.
However, Niles said there’s a much more important battle to be won.
“I love Yakima with all my heart and I believe in my city, and so everything that I did to be on this competition, I was keeping Yakima in mind and thinking about how to make a difference here for the sake of my city,” he said.
Niles will be working with the Yakima Police Athletic League to launch a culinary program for youth soon.