Nicholas Fahringer, Executive Chef at The Kahkwa Club (Erie, Pa.), has always had a passion for food and cooking. In college, while studying hospitality, he interned at the Philadelphia Country Club (PCC) in Gladwyne, Pa. While there, he realized his culinary arts calling and, following graduation, accepted a full-time position as a cook under Chef James Nolan.
Over the next 15 years, Fahringer worked in every part of PCC’s kitchen, at all management levels.
In 2014 he took on a new challenge as Executive Chef at Kahkwa, a private club steeped in tradition with a healthy $2 million food-and-beverage operation. Kahkwa’s 650 members, their families and guests keep Fahringer and his team busy preparing a wide range of fare. Fahringer emphasizes seasonality and introduces local ingredients into his constantly changing menus.
1. When I’m not in the kitchen you can find me on Lake Erie, even when there’s three feet of snow on the ground. I love the outdoors and spend most of my free time hanging out on the beach, hiking, camping, snowshoeing and fishing. It’s great having a state park right in my backyard.
2. My biggest mistake when I first started as a chef was trying to do too many things at once. I would get overwhelmed at times.
3. If I were stranded on a desert island, I’d want these five foods with me: Skittles, steamed blue claw crabs, chocolate-chip pound cake, Philadelphia soft pretzels and pork belly. (I didn’t realize how gross they sound all mixed together!)
4. My favorite celebrity chef is Gordon Ramsay, because he’s hysterical and an extremely talented chef.
5. I love pork belly. I hate oysters. And I can’t live without duck confit.
6. I think lobster is the most overrated ingredient, while duck fat is the most undervalued.
7. My most embarrassing moment in the kitchen was when I was doing a training class on proper knife handling and technique for hospitality students and I cut myself.
8. I love being a club chef because of the diversity of the food we prepare.
9. You’d be surprised to learn that I do not have a culinary degree. I am fortunate to have worked with some remarkable chefs who taught me the fundamentals that have helped me succeed.
10. One of my most memorable meals was at Marrakesh in Philadelphia. It was some of the best Moroccan food I’ve ever had. It was simple and authentic with great flavor. And it was prepared with passion. The ambiance is remarkable as well.
11. If I could trade places with one chef it would be no one. I love what I do.
12. The rule of conduct in my kitchen is: Be professional, focused and consistent. And have fun.
13. If I could change one thing about my club it would be the design and location of the kitchen.
14. I would like to see clubs use more local companies and farms for specialty products and ingredients.