Timothy Fischer, Executive Chef of Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg, lets us in on how he first entered the culinary scene, some of his favorite memories, and advice for budding chefs.
JERSEY BITES: What is your earliest food memory?
CHEF TIMOTHY FISCHER: Cooking and canning with my mother and grandmother.
When did you realize you wanted to make cooking a career? Was there an “a-ha” moment?
You could say that I made the choice in my senior year of high school. I was planning to play college football at North Dakota State University but had a bad car accident. Instead of following a career in football, which was no guarantee, I decided on the Culinary Institute of America. I have worked in professional kitchens since the age of 14 so it has always been a passion of mine.
Any interesting stories about where and with whom you started cooking professionally?
My chef mentor when I was 15 was Bruce Christensen. I worked with him at the Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, Minnesota, and he was instrumental in my choice to go to the Culinary Institute of America. He was a driving force in my development as a chef through his technique, always went by the book and cooked with his heart and soul but used French technique.
What is your cooking style?
Globally inspired cuisine with a refined American regional twist.
What is the greatest opportunity that has come from cooking?
To work alongside of and with many of the superstars in food that the world recognizes as the best chefs such as Daniel Boulud, Patrick O’Connell, José Andrés, Craig Shelton and a few other great chefs along the way.
What is the most memorable meal you’ve had, what did you eat and where was it?
Le-Bec Fin, 15 years ago. It was my wife’s and my first date and we ate almost the entire menu. I can still remember the amuse bouche, a chive bellini with horseradish crème fraiche and about half an ounce of beluga caviar on it. Thinking to myself, “If she enjoys this meal and that epic amount of caviar, she’s a keeper.”
It’s your last day on earth, what would your final meal be?
That’s a tough one, I love to eat! I would have to say my mother’s lasagna! It has always been special to me and with me living in Jersey and having them in Minnesota, I am craving it right now.
What is the best advice you have to share with young folks interested in becoming chefs?
Don’t do it because it looks cool on TV. It is a lot of hard work, long hours and extreme dedication to the foods that you are cooking. If you’re going to do it, you have to do it from your heart and give everything you have to your career and your food.
If you could choose to be any food item, what would it be?
Wild striped bass: sexy and tastes great!
What “staple” do you always have in your cupboard at home?
I love olives and I always have a variety.
What is your beverage of choice?
I love having fresh juice from my juicer. My favorite combination is mango, papaya, apple and banana.
What is your favorite comfort food?
Shore lunch: fish and chips cooked on an island in a remote lake somewhere, over a campfire.
What New Jersey restaurant do you enjoy dining at, besides your own?
I would have to say Pavinci on Lake Hopatcong. I love to get in the boat and cruise over there and have dinner on the patio in the summertime.
If you could have dinner with any three people, living, deceased or fictional, who would they be and why?
My wife, my son and my grandmother, who passed away when I was ten. Being a chef, you never have enough time with the ones you love. And I still remember cooking with my grandmother when I was a child.
Are you working on any upcoming projects our readers would be interested in learning about?
We are constantly working on our organic farm and the “real” dirt-to-fork aspect at Crystal Springs Resort. We will be expanding the farm on property this year.
Crystal Springs Resort
The New Jersey Wine & Food Festival will take place at Crystal Springs Resort, March 28 to 30. Tickets are on sale now.
Veronique Deblois is a food and wine blogger based in Morris County, NJ. As the author of the popular blog, Food & Wine Chickie Insider, Veronique shares recipes, wine and restaurant reviews. Follow Veronique on Twitter or like her Facebook page.