Amid COVID-19 Crisis, Long Island Residents Hold on to a Food Network Dream

Kate Wurtzel, founder of Keep It Spicy spice mixes.

Kate Wurtzel, a Nissequogue-based mother of two, brainstormed her way into owning a business. With her children becoming older and more independent, Kate says, “[She felt] it was time to accomplish something outside the house.” She just never anticipated how far out of the house her dreams would take her.

An enthusiastic home cook, Kate tackled recipes from Food Network, Martha Stewart cookbooks, and She battled the palates of two growing children and cleared the hurdle of anti-inflammatory eating. Through trial and error, Kate was able to please her family’s range of culinary preferences while meeting dietary needs to become, what she called, a “Master Flavor Creator.” The number one tool in her culinary bag of tricks? Spice blends!

And just like that, Keep It Spicy was born. Fresh and full of flavor, Keep It Spicy spice blends are offered in quantities that are economical and convenient. Kate takes her product one step further by providing her family’s approved meal recipes featuring the blends.

On a whim, Kate responded to a casting call for the Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race. To her surprise and delight, she found herself communicating with the show’s casting director and searching for team members to join her in the competition. She didn’t have to look far.

St. James neighbor Chef Harry Poole, and his co-worker April Nothdurft of Jackson’s in Commack, were all in for the opportunity. Jackson’s is one of two restaurants currently owned by chef Poole’s wife, Shelby, and her family. 

Chef Harry Poole and his son, in the kitchen at Jackson’s in Commack.

The mandates that have come with COVID-19 threaten to decimate the foodservice industry. While wading through this uncertain time, chef Poole remains optimistic about this Food Network opportunity, “We are very grateful that our family-owned business has built-in support allowing April and myself to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity. We are in it to win it! My wife, Shelby, and awesome support staff are looking forward to hosting viewing parties.”

Chef Poole brings more than his culinary skills to the team. He is credited with the team’s concept. It is uncertain if this information can be disclosed before airing, but we can hint that his idea is a BFD. The third member of the team, April Nothdurft, is a triple threat to the competition. April’s world-traveling experiences, varied hospitality skills, and high energy round out the team.

Jackson’s April Nothdurft.

After months of interviews, paperwork, and concept think tanking, the trio was awarded a spot on a holiday edition of the show. Set to leave for over a month of filming at the end of March, their televised future became jeopardized by COVID-19.  

Although they are now looking, at least, at a four-week postponement, the opportunity to have exposure on Food Network comes at a critical time. In addition to the national introduction, the winning team receives $50,000.

While waiting to cheer team BFD all the way to 50K on The Great Food Truck Race, please support their businesses during this trying time. Both Jackson’s in Commack (631.462.0822) and Morrison’s in Plainview (516.932.8460) have adapted to offer delivery and take-out orders. Keep It Spicy spice blends are available at