about THE FAT PASTOR
My name's Shawn Niles, and I'm the Fat Pastor. I'm a Yakima, Washington native, husband, father and culinary adventurer. I spent most of my life as a Christian pastor before fully diving into my love for the culinary world.
In 2017 I was featured as one of the top home chefs in America on MasterChef Season 8 with Gordon Ramsay, Christina Tosi and Aaron Sanchez. Chef Ramsay, one of my heroes, made a statement that turned my world upside down.
Shawn, you're a passionate man, and you were born to serve your community. But I think you were born to cook. Don't stop." - Chef Gordon Ramsay
After that experience, I knew that my life was shifting and moving towards a full-on relationship with the food industry. I sat down with some dear friends, and started Fat Pastor Productions. Since that summer of 2017, we have grown into a dominating force for good in our community. We launched Urban Kitchen, a free business and culinary school for students some might deem "at-risk." We also launched Bite Club, an underground Dining Club (and one of the only legal ones in the country), and began competing in various competitions. Most notably, we were ranked 22nd in the world at the World Food Championships in 2018, and 23rd in the world at the 2019 World Food Championships. In 2021, we were franchised by the World Food Championships, which means that Bite Club is now going national.
In 2020, we launched our first restaurant, The Lab, which has since transitioned into a really cool concept called "Eats & Elixirs" serving vintage inspired cocktails, global tapas and an amazing weekend brunch.
Locally, we've won the 2019 Yakima Taco Fest, and Yakima's favorite caterer at the 2019 Readers Choice Awards. We've also won Yakima's favorite chef multiple times through the Central Washington Home Builder's Association Tour Of Chefs.
Fat Pastor Productions has continued to grow and WILL continue to grow, as we seek to increase the number and quality of unique food experiences in our valley. Our dream is to see Yakima become the culinary destination of the Pacific Northwest.
All this since 2016? Yes - but it is also a story that has been marinating for most of my life.
I've always had a passion for food. I remember every Thanksgiving getting up early with my Father just to help make the stuffing and stuff the turkey. But my culinary story really began to unfold when I moved from Yakima to Freehold, New Jersey. It was there that my love for food turned into a passion to explore and experience it at every level.
WEST MEETS EAST
When I moved to New Jersey, I lived for a year with a wonderful doctor from India. She was excited to cook recipes from home for me, and because I loved to learn, she would show me much of what and how she was cooking. Because
of changes in my job, I moved not far from Freehold into the basement of an elderly gentleman from Italy. He, too, had
a passion for cooking, and was excited to show me what authentic Italian cuisine was all about. I'll forever cherish the
time I spent with him in his kitchen.
During that time, I also began dating my future wife. She and her mother are from Trinidad, and I would regularly invade their home for dinner. Little by little, she began to reveal her secret Caribbean Curries and Roti, Stewed Chicken, Buss' Up Shut, Trinidad Hot Sauce, and many others. There were no recipes given, I just had to stand and watch. I still do!
EAST MEETS SOUTH PACIFIC
After getting married, my new wife and I moved to Hawaii. It was there that I discovered first hand how that sticky rice really sticks. I think it's still stuck. But I also learned the amazing art of Shoyu Chicken, Kahlua Pig, Kalbi Ribs and many others. In fact, there was a wonderful lady in our church from Japan, who would occasionally bring us some of the best Japanese food I've ever had to this day. Because of her I fell in love with pickled daikon, chicken katsu, and many other dishes that I will never make the way she does. Doesn't keep me from trying though.
During our time there, my father passed away, and we eventually realized that we needed to be closer to home. Through providence, we didn't just move closer - we actually moved back to Yakima.
AND WE'RE BACK
Upon moving back to Yakima, I really discovered the wonders of our wine region, and began to appreciate pacific northwest cuisine like I never had before. Salmon, Dungenness Crab, and wild morel mushrooms you can only hunt for during one, very specific, season of the year. Since 2016, I've traveled extensively through North America and Europe, and even spent a week at the home of Massimo Bottura, a world renowned chef who has been ranked number one in the world multiple times.
Eating good food truly has become a calling of it's own for me, and it's something I'm excited to share with anyone and everyone. Food is worthy of respect, and it's something I think I do well. I'm also passionate about social and economic change. More than just making a good meal, we want to create better lives. I think my team and I can help with that as community minded chefs. For more information on my team of amazing chefs and hospitality experts, be sure to click HERE.
Whether you want to change the world, or just eat a crazy good meal with us - we're here to help you strap up, and join us on an adventure you won't soon forget.