Nick Nicastro brings chef skills to cyclists on the road
Nick Nicastro has parlayed his years of food-service experience with his passion for cycling into a business capable of keeping the most serious of bicycle riders happy and well-fueled on the road.
His SAG North America, AKA SAGmonkey, provides “support and guidance” for cyclists on long rides. What sets it apart from other support companies however, is the 22-foot-long “Bespoke Mobile Kitchen,” tricked out with high-end Wolf appliances and mannned by trained chefs who prepare three healthy, high-energy meals a day for athletes burning up to 7,000 calories a day.
For a cycling tour Nicastro is capable of pulling together a top-notch support team of specialists, everything from bike mechanics to certified massage therapists, nutritionista to yoga instructors. He also has access to coaches, chauffeurs and event planners. They are a team of soigneurs - the French word for caretaker - who will do whatever is is needed to pamper cyclists, allowing them to concentrate on the road and the experience of the ride.
Nicastro, 53, spends about 200 days a year traveling the country with this kichen. He also does catering and rents the kitchen out when available for special events.
Born in Queens, New York, he made his way as a young man to California, drawn to the surf scene. He found a natural calling in food service, and opened the Hard Rock Cafe in La Jolla. He also spent 10 years with The Chart House restaurants before being hired as food and beverage manager for The Four Seasons in Southern California.
He came to Healdsburg in the 1990s to raise a family; daughers Chiara, 22, who just graduated from Portland State, and Bianca, who is on the track team at Chico State Univerisity.
“At the time it was a quaint community and we just felt that it was very family oriented. And, being into food and wine, it’s a beautiful place to live,” he said of the decision to move to Healdsburg.
He opened and ran The Healdsburg Bar and Grill - HBG, for short. In 2005 he stepped away, (although it remains in the family), and started what he initially called SAGmonkey, a name suggested by his daughters.
Nicastro lives in a unique fireproof concrete house in the woods of Occidental when he’s not cycling himself or pampering fellow riders.
Who are the cyclists you typically work with?
The folks I with work with typically can ride at least 10 to 15 miles a day. We’re not a backroads service where you ride 50 miles and go to dinner and it’s more of a social thing. Most of the folks I work with are serious about cycling, either training for some race or they are ex pro-athletes. We sometimes work with professional athletes.
Where did you learn to cook?
I’ve been cooking since I was 12, growing up in New York with an Italian family and all my aunts teaching me how to make sauces. It was so much fun. I was hiding under the table as a kid with my aunts and great-grandmother cooking. While my uncles were smoking cigars and playing cards I was in the kitchen.
Who are your clients?
Sometimes I work with a team but for the most part they are retired professional cyclists. They have clients who come to them to be their cycling coach. So they look to me to put together these 100-mile-a-day tours so they can train for some event. I was just hired by Walgreens for their “Ride On for Red Nose,” two four-day professional-grade road cycling tours in April to raise money to end child poverty.
SAG North America provided professional support from our mobile kitchen for two epic routes - one on the West Coast (from Santa Barbara to Las Vegas) and one on the East Coast, (from Boston to New York City). We fed the participants and crew breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as provide daily ride nutrition. We will provide infrastructure for whoever wants to hire us. A senior couple once hired us to provide a very private five-day tour through the Wine Country. We’ll work with two or 100. Currently I’m working with 60 coaches and companies and teachers and have about 5,000 clients. We do all sorts of events. I’ve even done a birthday party.
Tell us about the kitchen.
It’s not a food truck. It’s a $100,000 commercial kitchen trailer, licensed by the state of California and the county of Sonoma. We call it the “Bespoke Mobile Kitchen.
Bespoke means custom, which allows folks to hire us to do what they want to do. We provide whatever their vision is. We have a freezer for ice cream, which is always a hit. We have a griddle for the hash browns in the morning and a grill that does fish. We have a six burner Wolf stove and an oven so we can bake brownies.
What’s the most unusual event you’ve worked?