We had the good fortune of connecting with Nick Demarest and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nick, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I knew early in my life that I could not be a suit and tie, nine to five, one week of vacation a year kind of worker. I knew my senior year in high school that I was going to be some kind of artist. I loved painting, sculpture, architecture, photography and of course cooking. I realized early on the power of leaving something behind after you are gone that others could still enjoy! While I do remember buildings, paintings etc., I think my best memories are of meals I have shared with my friends and family!
To see people happy and laughing because of something you made is a wonderful experience.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My wife and I started our latest restaurant 2 years ago in Boyes Hot Springs, Ca. It was supposed to be just a bakery that my wife was going to run while I continued to run our other restaurant Harvest Moon Cafe in Sonoma. During the build out phase we realized that operating 2 restaurants at the same time was not for us. Also, after 15 years of Harvest Moon, I was more than ready for a change. We also have a daughter, that at the time was just beginning her teenage years, and I felt that it was time for me to be home at nights(i worked nights, 6 days a week) to be with her.
We started our own restaurant after many years of working for others. We both realized that as long as we worked for others, we would never have the total creative freedom to do our own food that we both wanted to make.
Yes, there were challenges, and there always will be when you own your own business. We try and deal with those challenges in a positive way. We also simply show up everyday and put our heads down and work hard. We always try to treat our staff fairly and to be consistent with our decisions. We try not to micro manage to allow our staff a sense of freedom which hopefully encourages a little more buy in from employees. We try to involve staff in decisions that we know may effect them. Especially now, in the post Covid restaurant world, employees are more important than ever, and empowering them can go a long way to retention and overall business health. Happy employees equals happy customers!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We are in Sonoma county. Day 1 probably head to the town of Sonoma and visit a couple of the smaller wineries for a tastings. Lunchtime, El Molina Central for lunch. Dinner back at home
Day 2 a drive over to Calistoga and St Helena, walking and shopping. Then hit the Tuesday night Farmer’s market on the plaza in Sonoma for a picnic dinner with live music!
Day 3 drive out to the coast, Bodega Bay on up 1. Lunch at Hog Island Oyster Co. Find a beach and watch the waves!
Day 4 breakfast tacos from Rancho Market in Glen Ellen then head up to Healdsburg for the day. Plenty of good restaurants, shops, wineries etc. Definitely a trip out to the Gardner!
Day 5 go be a tourist in Marin. Walk the Golden Gate Bridge. Maybe a trip to Angel’s Island.
Day 6 a day in San Francisco! Dinner at Zuni!
Day 7 Petaluma walking and shopping. Beers at Ernie’s Tin Bar. Dinner at Central Market.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
David Tanis, Chef and NY TImes writer, was probably the most important figure in my early career. His unrelenting quest for the best local, organic foods really set in motion for me what would become the basis for my own career. I was lucky enough to work for him in the mid 90’s at his restaurant in Santa Fe, NM for 5 years. I also worked with hm again in the early 00’s at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Ca.