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Chef Spotlight: Executive Chef & Owner Ryan Nitschke

Meet the Executive Chef & owner of Luna Fargo, Sol Ave. Kitchen, Nova Eateries + More

The Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo community is full of talent, especially in the culinary industry. Talented folks from all over bring with them different and unique backgrounds, skills and passions to our area. And we want to take you inside their culinary masterminds. Let’s meet our community’s chefs in our Chef Spotlight!

Chef’s Choice

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Our Nova Cheeseburger, along with the perfect bun and calculated grind of beef, make the burger great. We add our beer cheese queso and caramelized onions and it completes the equation to make the perfect burger.

Q: Where are you from? Does that have any influence on your career in the industry?

A: Born and raised in Fargo; it’s a huge influence. Everything I do is to add to my community and help make it not only a great destination for travelers but a great place to live. My mission is to add things we can’t necessarily find in Fargo already.

Q: How did you learn to cook?

A: I played around with what was in the fridge when I was younger, but mostly it was on the job. I’ve been a full-time cook since high school.

Q: What degree or certifications do you have, and when and where did you receive those?

A: I have a Culinary Certificate from MSCTC of Moorhead that I received in 2004.

Q: How did you start your current businesses?

A: In the summer of 2014, I did a long table farm dinner with a touring group called Outstanding in the Field. It was at that event I officially met Nikki Berglund (my now business partner) through a mutual friend. Nikki enjoyed the farm dinner so much that we partnered up to transform Luna Coffee (which she had purchased earlier that year) into the restaurant it is today. Fast forward eight years and many ideas later we have Sol Ave. Kitchen, the recently opened Nova Eatery at Fargo Brewing Company, and three new concepts coming in the new year at the new Drekker Brewing build.

Q: Do you have unique education, background or mentor experience that helped you to where you are now?

A: I’ve been cooking in the industry since I was 14. Every job I’ve had, and all of the people I have encountered, have added to my experience and lent me a valuable education. I’ve always been obsessed with cookbooks and following other restaurants around the world. When you get to visit some of these different restaurants they really get your brain working.

Q: What dishes/foods/cooking styles do you specialize in?

A: We really are produce and seasonal-driven overall—whatever the farmers drop off at the back door. In general, all of the dishes, at any of our restaurants, are dishes we would like to eat. We have been moving more casual in our restaurants while still maintaining our mission towards a unique, thoughtful and heavy focus on quality. Really, really good, everyday food.

Q: In your opinion, what makes a great meal? How do you try to bring that to people?

A: All the flavors must make sense together. It’s finding the right equation of familiarity and creativity with attention to quality and intention. It’s also about long-standing relationships with purveyors and farmers. At Nova Eatery, for instance, we decided to put a burger on the menu. It’s approachable, it’s easy. But, we want you to have the best burger as possible so we select the softest and tastiest bun. We source the best possible locally and responsibly raised beef with the perfect ratio of cuts to yield the perfect in-house grind. It seems basic but the where and how are what make a great meal.

Q: What would you say drives you as a chef?

A: Honestly, it’s getting to express my creativity and display it in every dish we put out. I want to create positive and inspiring experiences for everyone in any of our spaces and that’s including our entire team. It’s just as important to nurture and collaborate with our team and friends in the industry. So, simply put, I suppose relationships drive me as a chef.

Written by Geneva Nodland

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