Welcome To Coley Cooks!

I'm Nicole Gaffney, but you can call me Coley.

I’m a professionally trained chef specializing in Italian cuisine and seafood, with over 20 years of experience in the food industry. I graduated from Louisiana State University and went on to attend the Academy of Culinary Arts, before opening The Dinner Belle Personal Chef Service and working as a culinary instructor for many years.

I'm best known for competing on the 10th season of Food Network Star and finishing in third place! I also make regular appearances on QVC selling seafood and other gourmet products. For many years, I hosted a syndicated TV show called The Chef's Kitchen, I appeared on the Rachel Ray Show, and even got to prepare one of my favorite Sicilian family recipes, Spiedini, live on the Today Show!

I grew up at the Jersey Shore in a BIG family of Sicilian fishermen, and food is at the center of everything we do. My great grandparents emigrated from Sicily to Gloucester, Massachusetts in the early 1900's, and my grandparents relocated to Cape May, New Jersey in the 60's.

Every Sunday, we would gather at my grandparent's house for an Italian feast called "pasta sugo," which is pasta with meatballs and plenty of homemade red sauce. When my grandfather wasn't out at sea fishing, he was home perfecting his his famous bread and pizza recipes.

It was these early memories with my Italian family that sparked my love for cooking and inspired me to become a chef. Preserving my family's recipes is incredibly important to me, and it's one of the main reasons I started this website!

My goal is to encourage you to slow down, embrace leisurely cooking, and find joy in sharing food with the people you love.

I live at the southern Jersey shore with my husband, Chaser, a talented architect (and taste-tester), and our chocolate labradoodle, Phoebe (also an excellent taste-tester). We spend as much time as possible with our feet in the sand and sea!

Living at the coast, seafood has always been a big part of my life. My grandfather and his brothers fished commercially for giant bluefin tuna, and my father made his early living catching clams and scallops.

Today, we fish for blue crabs off of our dock, striped bass on the beach, and we're constantly being spoiled by our fishermen friends who generously share their catch - like fresh flounder, calamari and tuna!

In 2017, I founded Soulberri Smoothies and Bowls in my hometown of Brigantine, NJ. Two years later, I released my first cook book, called The Art of the Smoothie Bowl, inspired by the wildly popular smoothie bowls at the shop.

While I no longer own Soulberri, it remains a mainstay in our community and I'm proud to see it thrive!

When I’m not in the kitchen, I love tending to my rooftop garden, traveling to exciting places and seeing live music and stand-up comedy.

I have a big sense of humor and always write this blog with a smile, so please, always read it with one!


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For all other inquiries please email me at Coley @ Coleycooks.com.

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