Photo: ABC The Nichols family.
Photo: ABC The Nichols family.

Paulding County’s Nichols family in finals of ABC’s ‘Family Food Fight’

Originally posted Thursday, August 15, 2019 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Paulding County’s the Nichols family has a shot at taking home the $100,000 prize Thursday for ABC’s first season of “Family Food Fight.”

The trio come into the finale as underdogs vs. the Chicago Minayas, who have won more challenges and have been consistently solid.

The Nichols, in the meantime, have been underdogs from the start, their country twang and focus on Southern food making it easy to under-estimate them.

UPDATE: No surprise given how the Nichols were talking to me before the finale aired that they lost to the Minayas. 

Tammy Nichols, 50, a retired project manager with an architectural background, runs a popular “Collard Valley Cooks” YouTube channel with 43,000 subscribers. “I can make art on a plate,” she said. Her motto: “Cook just like my mama did.” 

Her mother - a former caterer and cake decorate - passed away recently but was aware they were on the show, cooking in honor of her. 

ABC, after seeing her online, contacted her about doing the show and she grabbed her husband Chris and her younger brother Eddie to make the trio. 

While some teams were much more simpatico in terms of teamwork, the Nichols did better individually, focused on their own dishes. “We figured out fairly early after the second challenge not to worry about each other,” said Eddie, a pastor and general contractor. “You are only allotted so much time. We’re better suited to concentrate on whatever we’re doing than worry about what somebody else is doing.”

He said he’s proud of how they performed. “We were completely out of our comfort zone the last three or four challenges,” he said. “We were cooking things we didn’t cook at home. But we wanted to show we could cook whatever they threw at us.”

Cooking was second nature for both Tammy and Eddie as siblings. They grew up on a farm raising livestock. “We grew up in a family of cooks,” Eddie said. Chris and Tammy as a married couple also cooked together. 

Tammy said being on the show has expanded their culinary horizons and she realized to please the judges, she needed dishes that provided a combination of sweet, heat, acid and salt. “Lots of salt,” she said, which is common in restaurant food more than home-cooked meals. 

She also noted that a lot of the best Southern dishes take hours to make. The show usually required dishes to be ready in 30 to 60 minutes, which precluded many traditional foods, she said. 

Tammy said it wasn’t acknowledged on the show but she had a painful rib injury that didn’t always place her in the best of moods. 

But overall, Eddie said, they were happy at this point to be where they were going into the final. “We wanted to win but the pressure was off,” he said. “We felt blessed to be there.”


“Family Food Fight,” season finale at 9 p.m. Thursday on ABC

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.