Rising Star Chef Derek Wagner of Nicks on Broadway - Biography

Providence, RI

March 2014

Derek Wagner takes the work of a chef to another level. He’s not just a courier of flavor, delivering bold, seasonal messages to palates, but he also makes it his business to reach diners on a deeper level. And it’s been that way since Wagner took over Nicks on Broadway in 2002, when he was just 24 years old. From its modest 18-seat beginning to its current tripled capacity, Nicks has evolved into a Providence institution, and Wagner uses that platform to foster good food, community, and consciousness in tandem.

An early and eager proponent of forging close relationships with farmers and producers, Wagner also planted his own herb and vegetable gardens and fruit trees. A two-time James Beard nominee, with Nicks named “One of the World’s Best Restaurants” by Fodor’s three years in a row, Wagner doesn’t rest on his laurels. In 2010, he was a featured chef at the James Beard House in conjuction with his contribution to the Harvest to Heat cookbook (Taunton Press). Wagner was also a featured chef in the Philip Johnson Glass House dinner and benefit, as well as in the film associated with the event. In February 2014, he took his message all the way to Congress, where he advocated for small and responsible fisheries. Wagner sits on the board of Chefs Collaborative and is the only chef on the board of the Rhode Island Seafood and Marketing Collaborative. In 2014, he won the StarChefs.com Coastal New England Sustainability Award.