Restaurant news: What’s next for U.S. pizza champ Niles Peacock? Bagels, brunch and competition for a world title

Niles Peacock celebrates winning best schmear and second best bagel at the Artisan Bakery Expo East in October 2023. (Photos courtesy Niles Peacock)

Niles Peacock is a force of nature. I recently sat down with him at his self-named Niles Peacock Bar & Restaurant in Edmonds to learn about his plans for changing the world through food and beverages. Seriously. His love of all things food and drink is contagious and hearing about his plans for the future is inspiring. If you are an investor, putting your money into one of his enterprises might be a wise move — especially if you include a regular supply of his “My Hot Date” pizzas in the contract. He is always on the lookout for another location for a second restaurant. His ideas for new menu items as well as craft cocktails are endless. I think he probably recipe tests while he is sleeping — but then given all of his energy I doubt he gets much sleep. Seriously though, I enjoyed hearing about Niles’ perspective on the current food scene globally as well as locally. He has so many ideas in his head and is trying to manage his time and talents so that he can put them into play. His journey into the culinary world has been circuitous to say the least.

Early in our conversation, I discovered that we were next-door neighbors while both of us were living in the the Berkshires of Massachusetts. He was a student at the Desisto School, a boarding school located next to the yoga center where I was working at the time. While things at school got off to a rough start for Niles, eventually his perspective and attitude changed so that he was able to turn his life around. He became a student leader at the school and graduated. He headed to New York City to study fashion design at the Parsons Institute of Design but realized that he would be beholden to working for someone else if he pursued a fashion career. So he started tending bar in New York to support himself. Few know that he is a Certified Level 2 Sommelier. He never lost his interest in fashion, and you will often see him around town in his self-designed three piece suits — chosen specifically to match the occasion. He thinks of every detail in his suits, cocktails and food.

Niles in a suit he designed for a Blue Angels event.

Niles started participating in competitions with the encouragement and guidance of his mentor Will Grant, owner of Sourdough Willy’s Pizzeria across the sound in Kingston. Will is a Master Pizzaiolo and has earned the certification to train others in the art of making pizza by the Scuola Italiana Pizzaiolo, the oldest and most prestigious pizza school in Italy. Will has had a large influence on the pizza that is made at Niles’ restaurant — including the fact that he shared his 128-year-old-plus sourdough starter with Niles. This starter and the long fermentation process (how long the dough rests before it is used for pizza) are some of the reasons that the pizzas at both restaurants are flavorful and have a fabulous texture.

Niles is the first to give credit to his staff at his restaurant. They are responsible for executing his ideas and while he has very high standards, it is clear that this rubs off on the crew that works for him. Owning as well as working in a restaurant is a tough business. The pace is fast and customers have high expectations that their hard-earned money will be well spent when they eat out. It’s one of the reasons that so many restaurants have not recovered from the pandemic. Between labor, food and rent costs, it is a challenging environment to make a profit. I get the sense that Niles takes care of his staff and this enables him to have the time to participate in pizza, bagel and sandwich competitions as well as devote time to developing new menu items.

Niles Peacock with his mentor Will Grant,

As mentioned in a previous My Edmonds News article, Niles won the Galbani Professionale U.S. Pizza Cup Competition in Orlando in November 2023. His first-place win means that he will head to Parma, Italy, to compete in the World Pizza Championships in April 2024. His winning entry was the “My Hot Date” pizza, which features a 96-hour, pre-ferment dough brushed with garlic oil and dusted with whole-milk mozzarella, gorgonzola crumbles, garlic-rubbed Medjool dates and a reduced balsamic glaze, and finished with Galbani Pecorino Romano cheese. If you have never tried this pizza at his restaurant, I encourage you to order it. While it sounds unusual, the flavor combination is stunningly delicious. Niles is competing at the 40th annual International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, on March 19-21, 2024 — which will be great preparation for the International competition in Italy.

While Niles’ first love was creating craft cocktails and then pizza, his newest passion is bagels! Since I grew up in St. Louis (which had many bagel shops and delicatessens) and spent over two decades on the East Coast (including New York City and Boston), I know a good bagel when I see one and when I taste it. Although the Seattle area is not known for its good bagels, we are having a bit of a renaissance when it comes to bagels in the Pacific Northwest. A number of folks are trying to produce an authentic East Coast bagel — Niles wants to be one of them. I recently assisted Edmonds’ own Nancy Leson at a PCC Cooks bagel-making class and even she agrees that it’s not easy to find a good bagel in Snohomish County. I am hopeful that Niles will change all of that soon. He competed for Best Bagel, Shmear, Cheese Pizza & Calzone at the Artisan Bakery Expo East and Pizza & Pasta Northeast Expo in October 2023 held in Atlantic City. With his Parmesan Crusted Sourdough Bagel, he was awarded East Coast Bagel Championship, Non traditional 2023 First Place Winner. And his Gorgonzola Dulce Whipped Cream Cheese with Crispy Shallots and Green Onion received an award for East Coast Bagel Championship, Best Schmear 2023 Second Place Winner. Very impressive for someone new to making bagels.

Niles Peacock with his pizza trophies.

The good news is that these award-winning items will be part of his brunch menu that he hopes to debut in January 2024. He plans to have Sourdough Brioche Cinnamon Rolls (which he’s been developing with world-famous cinnamon roll expert Jerilyn Brusseau, now nicknamed the “CinnaMom” because she developed Cinnabon’s secret recipe). Other items on the brunch menu will include a variety of sourdough bagels with an assortment of schmears; Shakshuka (gently poached eggs in a chunky tomato, onion and bell pepper sauce popular in North Africa and the Middle East); Butter Croissant French Toast and weekend specials. Perhaps there will be a breakfast pizza too. Stay tuned. Personally, I can’t wait to have brunch at his place in 2024.

While you have family and friends in town for the holidays consider visiting Niles at his restaurant.

Location: 178 Sunset Ave. S., Edmonds

Hours: Closed Monday. Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 4-9 pm. Friday and Saturday 4-10 p.m.

Visit www.nilespeacock.com for online orders.

— By Deborah Binder

Deborah Binder lives in Edmonds with her family. She loves to cook from scratch using produce from the gardens she created and maintains with her husband. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and focused on desserts, pastries and bread. She’s worked for restaurants and caterers in the front and back of the house (kitchen) on both coasts. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. Deborah loves experimenting and developing new recipes. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at jaideborah@yahoo.com.

 

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