2013 Rising Star Chef Jeremy Nolen grew up with a chef for a father and the German food heritage of Reading, Pennsylvania on his dinner table. He spent his childhood running around his father’s kitchen and cooked through high school at German Social Clubs, learning old-school recipes from immigrant grandmothers. But food and cooking, for Nolen, were largely a means to pay for his youthful passion: music.
After high school, Nolen majored in history and German at Penn State University, and before he could graduate, he was on the road traveling with his band—cooking between gigs to pay the bills. When his band broke up, returned to the kitchen lifestyle he knew as a child. But this time around, Nolen got serious about food. He first worked at British gastropub, The Speckled Hen, in Reading. He then staged weekends in New York and worked stints at Oceana and DB Bistro Moderne. Finally moving Philly, he led the kitchen at Coquette before catching the attention of Doug Hager and Kelly Schmitz-Hager, a couple looking to open a beer hall with sophisticated German food.
His grandmother teachers in Reading had given Nolen their culinary treasures, and having refined his cheffing skills, Nolen was ready for the challenge. As executive chef of Brauhaus Schmitz, Nolen is helping revive interest and advance German food in Philadelphia. And with the recent opening of Wursthaus Schmitz in Reading Terminal Market and a cookbook on the way, Nolen and his culinary heritage will soon reach the masses.