The Journey to Your Table

Chef Nicholas Arnold, CEC

In 1996, Nicholas Arnold graduated with honors from Moraine Park Technical College in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. He is one of only 3000 Chefs who hold the “Certified Executive Chef” (CEC) designation from the American Culinary Federation (ACF) and he was honored in 2020 to be nominated by his peers as “Chef of the Year.”

His interest in food started at an early age. Nicholas grew up in Wisconsin and developed a love for local, seasonal foods. In middle school he developed a brownie recipe for his grandmother and those are the brownies he still makes today. He fondly talks about his first true cooking job at George Webb’s in Cedarburg — and how very proud he was to cook for local people and watch them enjoy the food he had made.

As Nicholas became more passionate about the art of food, he got a big break and landed a position at The American Club in Kohler, WI. He looks back on this breakthrough as a key milestone in his career as he was mentored by many in the kitchen including his lifelong mentor Executive Chef Rhys Lewis. As garde manger, Nicholas created many decorative elements of the buffet including ice carvings, edible centerpieces and charcuterie. These particular skills would unknowingly open up many doors for him down the road.

In 2000, serendipity led him to Caneel Bay Resort in St. John — another AAA Five-Diamond hotel. “I had never even considered working on an island,” he said “but a friend of mine invited me down to stagiere (ie, an internship where he worked for free in exchange for knowledge). This built his experience with large buffets, charcuterie and garde manger. He returned the following year and under the direction of Chef Hans Schadler C.E.C., A.A.C., and the culinary team created many grand breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets. “Working amongst movie stars and Laurence Rockefeller was a life changing experience.”

Following island life, Nicholas returned to The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin as Chef de Cuisine of The Wisconsin Room. This was his first role with a large team and Nicholas created a farm-to-table approach showcasing local Wisconsin ingredients and creating memorable fine dining experiences for guests. It was also in the Wisconsin Room that Nicholas began hosting winemaker dinners and increased his expertise with food and wine pairings.

His success at The Wisconsin Room was noticed and in 2004 Nicholas was promoted to Executive Chef at Riverbend–Mr. Kohler’s private membership club. In this capacity, Nicholas increasingly worked with local farmers to create menus with the freshest possible ingredients. His innovation in the kitchen plus having his own greenhouse and garden enabled him to develop new techniques like canning. He created a line of preserves for Riverbend that were served in the restaurant on-site and shared with the club’s members.

Several years later, Nicholas went to another AAA Four Diamond restaurant — The Summit — designed by Adam Tihany. Here under the tutelage of Chef Bertrand Bouquin, Nicholas began to mentor the ACF apprentices and helped develop a new concept for a premier restaurant at the The Broadmoor Hotel–a AAA Five-Diamond resort. The Summit was one of the “Top 10” restaurants in America.

Nicholas’s next opportunity took him to Colorado Springs and The Garden of the Gods Club. He found a great opportunity at the large, award-winning golf club, resort hotel and spa. He brought together local bread makers, coffee roasters, local farmers and organic beef producers for five independent restaurants all situated at the base of Pikes Peak. It was here that Nicholas was able to create a learning environment for culinary students and he mentored more than 30. It was especially gratifying for him to see many of them quickly move up the culinary ladder to become Chefs of their own kitchens.

In 2011, Nicholas was recruited by the New Albany Country Club in New Albany, Ohio to help with the planning of the club’s 350-acre USDA certified organic farm. The plan not only revolutionized the way a private club and community sourced its ingredients, but the community of New Albany itself was recognized and ranked as the #1 suburb in America by Business Insider. “Its premier gem is the New Albany Country Club.”

Nicholas had a career goal of returning to Caneel Bay Resort as Executive Chef and in October 2015 he realized this goal. Caneel Bay was a AAA Four-Diamond rated resort and member of Leading Hotels of the World and Nicholas worked hard to redefine luxury dining standards while also implementing financial and systematic procurement diligence. While his diligence had significantly improved the bottom line for the food and beverage operation, sadly this was the last season for the resort due Hurricane Maria and Irma which devastated the resort.

After moving back to the US, Nicholas took the helm as Executive Chef at Columbia Country Club, a Platinum Rated Club in the top 3.5 % of all private clubs nationally. There he modernized the dining experience, cuisine and systems. He started the “Cow to Cone” ice cream program, using non-homogenized Jersey cow dairy, milked just days prior to ice cream production. Fresh became the new standard.

​Nicholas was then recruited for the Executive Chef role at Hotel Hershey in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Winner of the Historic Hotel of the year in 2018, Hotel Hershey is a AAA Four-Diamond, Mobil Four-Star hotel and Resort. With a large team of both tenured chefs and cooks along with students and apprentices, Nicholas managed four distinct dining outlets including Trevi5 (upscale Italian), Harvest Restaurant (farm to table), Chef’s Market (fast-casual grab and go) and The Circular, which hold the longest AAA Four Diamond rating in the state.

​After all the travels and incredible resorts Nicholas had worked at, in 2022 he was ready for change. Moving home to Wisconsin wasn’t really being considered until he visited Cedarburg during the July 4th weekend. “I went to the parade in Cedarburg,” he said “and it felt like it was time to come home.”

Nicholas is back now and you may know him and his Old English Sheepdog, Bowie — a 115 pound “puppy.” He says that moving back to Cedarburg has been a blessing and after more than 25 years away cooking for movie stars, presidents, high ranking officials and dignitaries, he is happy to be home.

What’s next and why Cedarburg? Well…that’s where the FEAST chapter begins. Chef Nicholas is combining his love of food, flavor, and creativity to bring FEAST to life. We will be sharing good food in the Cedarburg community starting on April 6 with our first tasting event: Spring has Sprung! Stay tuned for more!

Chef’s Journey in Photos