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Nicholas Arnold was recently hired as the executive chef of The Hotel Hershey.
1. What are you looking forward to most in your new role?
I am excited to join the culinary team at The Hotel Hershey, where the history, legacy and tradition of fine service and hospitality are second to none. Hershey, Pennsylvania resembles the close-knit community I grew up in (Cedarburg, Wisconsin), and I’m very happy to be able to call it my new home. And, of course, I look forward to cooking and having the opportunity to weave local ingredients into the hand-crafted cuisine that has existed at The Hotel Hershey since 1933.
2. How do you think past experiences have prepared you for this role?
Throughout my career, I have had the great fortune of working with those who are passionate about their craft in esteemed resorts and clubs. Since my first culinary experience in 1997 at The American Club (Kohler, Wis.), I have been fascinated by the grandeur of historic hotels.
3. How did you get into the industry?
I’ve always enjoyed eating and have thought about food as far back as I can remember. My father used to introduce us to new flavors of food and cook for our family from James Beard’s American Cookery cookbook. Helping my parents in the kitchen came naturally to me, and I began creating menus from a young age.
One of my favorite jobs was my first cooking position at George Webb’s, a local institution in Wisconsin. It had counter and sit down service, and on the weekends we would serve up to 200 people for breakfast! The restaurant was famous for being open 24 hours and they gave away free burgers if the Milwaukee Brewers won 13 games in a row. Mr. Neumnan (the local apple grower), policemen, farmers, teachers and kids from high school would all come to eat and hang out. It filled me with an enormous sense of pride to cook for my community.
Throughout my career, there have been many people to encourage, mentor and mold me along the way: Chef Rhys Lewis, Chef Hans Schadler, Aaron Walters, David Meyers, Tony Shill and Gail Bennet (my home economics teacher from high school). Ron Speich and David Weber were my culinary teachers at Moraine Park. Gregg Wangard - a coworker from The American Club, a great friend and my biggest cheerleader. All these people have been so very influential to me in different ways.
4. What are you hoping to achieve in your new role?
Perspective and harmony: The Hotel Hershey’s (and Hershey Entertainment & Resorts’) core purpose is to help fulfill the dream of our founder, Milton S. Hershey, by providing value to Milton Hershey School in its mission of helping students lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. This and our company’s other values really puts our work into great perspective and gives us a higher purpose for what we do.
To work alongside the awesome and gifted hospitality team at The Hotel Hershey and to be able to support their goals, culture and vision is not only a great challenge but a truly wonderful opportunity. Their kindness is remarkable.
5. What do you enjoy most about the industry?
I truly enjoy to cook and prepare uncommon things from scratch. Working with my hands and the artistry and creativity that comes with a chef’s role is unlike any other. There is a sense of accomplishment that comes with incorporating ingredients that change with the seasons, combining that with a sense of place and folding it into your cuisine. It is as exciting as it is rewarding.
Working with so many different people from different parts of the world gives me a great sense of fulfillment.