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Life & Work with Nykol “Kola” Island

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nykol “Kola” Island.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I found my love for cooking when I was just a little girl. At the early age of five, I used to stand on the chair in the kitchen and cook with my great-grandma, grandmothers and grandfather, all with southern roots (Lousianna, Arkansas and Texas), and my mother and father. As I got older, I’d always as if I could take on the task of cooking the large family meals by myself. One day I was granted that wish and it was ON from there! It was as if I had fallen in love with food and the responses I received once people ate what I prepared. The very first meal I prepared alone was Thanksgiving. My mom was nervous and stayed in the kitchen with me the whole time. What a great memory and experience! After that, large family meals became my job and I loved it! I even had more responsibility in the kitchen when the dinner was held at my grandparent’s home as well. It gave me great joy when family would reference my grandmother and say, “Oh man! This roast is sooo good! Mom you put your food in it!”. I’d laugh and then inform them that I cooked it. It was a great achievement in my eyes for my food to stand up next to that of my grandmothers. I HAD THE SOULFOOD ON LOCK!

In my early 20s, I began putting my own twist on some of the family recipes. Although soul food was my first love, my family was no stranger to cooking other cultural dishes. My favorite dish to cook also became what I’m known in Los Angeles for…ENCHILADAS. My late father, Charles Island, used to make enchiladas for our family. It was like a special treat and we loved them. I then decided in my adulthood to experiment with the way they were made and the flavors used. After putting my own twist and pizzazz on the traditional dish, I began cooking it all the time for my family and friends. Soon, requests started rolling in to make enchiladas for parties and events. This leads me to start my catering business, Nyk Naaacs LLC.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The road to becoming a business owner has been interesting and very exciting! I love seeing people eat my food and their taste buds celebrate. Due to the recent Covid pandemic, everything slowed and then came to a screeching holt. I had many engagements that were canceled and postponed. This challenge kind of put a damper on my enthusiasm. Also during the pandemic, my father passed away January 2021 from cancer. I noticed after a friend of mine checked on my wellbeing that I had completely allowed my business to go untouched for months. I stopped responding to catering requests and ignored all business calls, texts, and social media messages.

For the most part, I am a one-woman show. I am the chef, administrator, logistics team, etc. From time to time, I get assistance from my children, brother and cousin when it comes to food prep. I am thankful to God that I am now getting back into the swing of things with encouragement from friends, family and complete strangers, all who have become some of my favorite customers. I recently catered four events in Los Angeles as California and the world are opening up. The road, I’m sure, will have many curves and turns but I am ready! Nyk Naaacs LLC is my baby and I’m ready to go all the way.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a loving person and lover of food who specializes in passing that love through my dishes to others. In the south, people will always say that the homecooked meal was made with love. This is because there’s a certain hospitality and love that southern people possess. The meals are cooked from the heart. There is nothing sought in return. You sit down to a hefty plate and enjoy the food and company of family. I specialize in providing that experience.

I am known for a plethora of dishes, as I do cook traditional Soul Food, Mexican and Italian dishes with a twist. Some of my most popular dishes include but are not limited to, Enchiladas, Shrimp and Grits, Cajun Pasta, Fried Broccolli and Smothered Potatoes, Southwestern Chili. I cater and have catered all types of events. I’m available for catering brunches, birthday parties, church events, studio sessions, job events, funerals and more.

When eating food catered by Nyk Naaacs LLC, I am most proud of my vegetarian meals. I have in the last two years become a Pescatarian, which I use lightly. I only have seafood maybe twice every couple of months. For the most part, my family and I enjoy vegetarian meals daily. “How do you cook Soul Food without the meat?” This is a question I’m asked regularly. However, once they taste my food, they can’t tell that no meat was used. The common response is, “There’s got to be meat in this!” and “There’s no meat in this? You’re lying!”. I laugh. I’m grateful and humbled to have found the medium of preparing my family dishes on a heathier scale with the same bold southern flavor.

What sets me apart from other establishments is that I provide a party full of love in your mouth. You will eat and enjoy every bite! Many of my customers have learned, especially when ordering Echiladas, that a personal-sized pan is not enough. They go home and eat, then call me to see if I have any leftovers because they need more. It’s a blessing! Yahweh has called me to utilize my gift of cooking to heal through food and bring back what has been lost in many households, the sense of family love and togetherness. My customers purchase meals that they sit with family and friends to enjoy. I’m glad to be a part of that which is experienced…LOVE.

Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
I am very big on prayer and meditation. I read the bible and other uplifting publications. I am currently trying my best to incorporate an exercise and self-care regimen. This is challenging due to my schedule. Somehow, I’ll work it in. I also crochet. This is a simplistic means of therapy that I use to quite the day. My mother taught me how to crochet in 2006 while I was pregnant with my second child and she was battling cancer. That battle was lost in September of 2010. My mother was such a proud mother! Crocheting reminds me to keep going no matter how repetitious things may seem. The end result is something big and beautiful.

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Nyk Naaacs Catering LLC

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