Blog > Interview with The Food Mercenary Michael Niksic

Posted November 5, 2021

We interviewed Chef Michael Niksic, The Food Mercenary, who also did cooking classes for the Adult Services Department. Here are a few questions we asked!

Library: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Mike: All of my goals on freestyle jet ski tours & competitions, culminating in a 17 year run as the main event in the Water show here in Chicago at the Air & Water Show.  

Library: What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you?
​ A waitress dressed as me for Halloween……….. Since 1994 I have been a Halloween character!

Library: If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Mike: I would have bought tickets for AC/DC, Bob Marley, Elton John & The Traveling Wilbury’s early on in their careers.

Library: How long have you been teaching cooking classes?
Mike: In 2004 I started teaching cooking classes at libraries.

Library: What was your best job?
Mike: Tied, Ciel Bleu, La Grillade, Periwinkle’s Cafe, Northside Cafe and owner of 1/72 Legions In Plastic Depot

Library: What was your worst job?
Mike: Chicago Yacht Club and a virtual clown car.

Library: Do you have a favorite food or one you cannot stand?
Mike: Favorite food, no.  Too many good choices at hand.  Cannot stand?  Closest to that would be Liver or Salmon.  Both overpower my palate.

Library: What  other hobbies do you have?
Mike: Music, dog owner certainly qualifies, miniature toy soldier collector and seller (something I have been doing since I was a child). I have a store on eBay called 1/72 Legions In Plastic Depot where I sell toy soldiers, and dioramas videos on my YouTube channel of the same name. Find the playlist on YouTube here. 

Library: How long have you been cooking?
Mike: I began cooking on the Southside of Chicago in the Rupcich Family restaurant in 1976. I entered the Washburne Trade School in June of 1976, and graduated from the Chef’s Training Program in May of 1978.

Library: I heard that you do not like to wear paper chef hats, why is that?
Mike: As I am a south sider legally, I should never be allowed to dispense fashion advice.  Wearing paper hats for chef’s is illogical, wasteful, cheap and embarrassing.  Professionals can afford cloth.  Even McDonalds dropped paper hats 20 years ago.   No profession on earth requires the use of paper hats.  Somehow some chefs think prancing around with a tube of paper on their melon makes them look professional and dignified.

Library: Where can people find you?
Mike:  Find me on my website at The Food Mercenary here.