2017 New York City Rising Star Chef Jon Nodler of High Street on Hudson

2017 New York City Rising Star Chef Jon Nodler of High Street on Hudson
January 2017

From just outside Minneapolis, Jon Nodler moved to Madison to attend the University of Wisconsin in 2004. He studied Chinese, art history, and ceramics, never afraid of taking on a full plate and even fi nding time to teach younger students. He got into cooking at the encouragement of friends and while also working at a cafe called Bradbury’s. A barista, Nodler was asked by the cafe’s owners if he could make crêpes. Embracing the challenge, he went to the farmers market, came back, and created a chalkboard menu. 

His professional cooking career had kicked off, and Nodler began the serious work of becoming a chef by cooking for Dan Fox at Merchant and The Madison Club. Rising through the ranks, Nodler demonstrated artistic vision and technical acumen. 

He moved to the East Coast, and in 2012 joined the team at Rising Stars alum Eli Kulp’s Fork in Philadelphia. Ascending the kitchen hierarchy once again, Nodler was integral in the opening of Kulp’s High Street on Market, and in 2015 he oversaw the opening of High Street on Hudson in New York City. Today Nodler is the culinary director of High Street Hospitality Group, actively cooking and running their operations in two cities (now including Philly’s a.kitchen + a.bar).

High Street on Hudson received two stars from The New York Times, and all the properties in Philly have earned three bells in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Nodler was a semi-finalist for James Beard’s “Rising Star Chef” in 2015.

Interview with New York City Rising Star Chef Jon Nodler of High Street on Hudson

Sean Kenniff: How did you get your start? 
Jon Nodler:
I’m from just outside of Minneapolis. I moved to Madison, Wisconsin for college where I studied Chinese language and art history. It was my friends who got me into cooking. I worked as barista throughout college, and eventually the owners wanted to serve crepes, so I went to the farmers market and did a chalkboard menu. I worked as a chef at Merchant before I left Wisconsin, then moved to Philly and started working for Eli [Kulp] after about a month.

SK: What's the biggest challenge facing your restaurant?
Staffing is the biggest challenge. Philly became a major market really quickly, so we really had to focus on getting the right candidates. Ultimately, it's about never sacrificing, but still making sure our dining programs are feasible. We have to treat breakfast and lunch the same as we do dinner.

SK: How many people work for you?
There are six dinner cooks and six day cooks here in New York. At High Street on Market I oversee the sous chefs, four night cooks and six day with two sous, and we have someone in charge of ordering, and someone else in charge of dishwashers. I’m supporting my sous chefs, which allows me to spend my time working on menu development.

SK: What's your five year plan?
To develop people. The hardest thing to do is attract cooks, it’s a buyers market. We are approachable—no truffles, no Osetra caviar. It's important to hook people into the process first, then keep them engaged. We have an in-house mentality: yogurt, bread, pasta, pastry ... we make it all. Eventually I want to do my own project within the group. I came into the industry very quickly without any mentors until I met Eli. I learned a lot about what not to do. But cooking on the East coast really changed my whole perspective.

SK: What advice would you give to your younger self? 
Focus on learning, and try not to fall into situations that are distracting