Nick Hertel’s culinary career has taken him from some of the finest establishments in the west, down south to Nashville, Tennessee where he now serves as Executive Chef of the 2nd floor dining room at Strategic Hospitality’s historic Merchants Restaurant.
Hertel’s culinary career began at the young age of 14-years-old, when he began working in his first kitchen, dishwashing and assisting with meal preparation at a Christian retreat center in Portland, Oregon. Hertel worked in various kitchens throughout high school and college, where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Lewis and Clark College in Portland.
After college, Hertel travelled to Europe, gaining experience and elevating his passion in kitchens throughout Paris, Barcelona, Copenhagen, and Stockholm.
In 2005, Hertel moved to Scottsdale, Arizona to attend culinary school at Scottsdale Community College. During that time, he worked as Chef de Partie at The Phoenician Resort, learning classical culinary skills at the Five Star restaurant Mary Elaine’s.
Hertel then made his way to Las Vegas in 2008, working under award-winning chef Charlie Trotter as part of the opening for Restaurant Charlie in the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas.
Shortly after, Hertel moved to Chicago and into the position of Sous Chef for Charlie Trotters, where he stayed for two years. Eager to learn the art of craft brewing, Hertel joined the team at Goose Island Beer Company in Chicago, where he also served as Sous Chef for the brewery’s kitchen. In 2011 he left the brewery for Barrelhouse Flat, where he held the position of Executive Chef, using local and seasonal products to pair with the comprehensive beverage program at the restaurant.
In 2012, Hertel made his way back to Scottsdale and became the Chef de Cuisine at the Boulders, a Waldorf Astoria Resort in Carefree, Arizona. Wanderlust hit again when Hertel took an 18-month trip to Southeast Asia and South America in 2014, when he was once more able to develop his culinary style and broaden his use of flavors and spices.
2016 brought Hertel to Merchants restaurant in Nashville, where he continues to work closely with farmers to provide local and seasonal products in a refined environment.