How did you get your start?
Nick: “My career started off as a means to an end, but that quickly changed. I realized I loved the trade, and for several reasons:
One, I’ve always been an athlete, and just like in sports, the kitchen crew is like a team. Everyone’s gotta have each others’ backs. I couldn’t do what I do without the help of my crew. I’ve met some amazing people and made some lifelong friends in the kitchen.
Second is the fast-paced, always-on-the-go atmosphere that comes with being a chef. It will never be mundane or boring. I couldn’t do the same thing over and over like Groundhog Day.
Then there’s the creative process: Some people paint, some make music — I’m able to show my creativity through the menu and the meal, and when people are hungry, sometimes that’s what matters most.”
What drives or motivates you?
Nick: “I’m most inspired by my family. I owe so much to my parents. All they ever wanted was for me to be successful — it didn’t matter at what, as long as I was happy.
My children also motivate me, and so do those that have helped me throughout my struggles. They all inspire and motivate me to be better than I was yesterday.”
How would you describe your style?
Nick: “I really wouldn’t know how to define my style, but I like my dishes balanced with a clean presentation and a fusion of flavors.”
You’ve been at Cork now for a while now (almost a year). What makes it different from other restaurants you’ve worked at?
Nick: “Both Jay Lanagan and Al Peters (ownership at Cork) have handed over the keys to the castle and let me do my thing. I have the freedom to create, freedom to run my kitchen. I’ve been able to add to a solid, moderately-sized menu and provide changes throughout the season that keeps things fresh.”
Stay tuned for the second installment with Chef Nicholas coming soon!