Culinary Q&A with
Chef Nico Romo of Fish Restaurant
The Southern C Summit is almost here (next week!) and we are thrilled to be hosting our luncheon at Fish Restaurant. Located along upper King Street, Fish has an inviting and warm ambiance inside the restored 1837 Charleston single and features a menu with fresh-off-the-boat seafood, locally harvested produce, farm-raised meats, innovative dim sum, artisan cocktails and boutique wines. Be warned Summit attendees: come hungry and prepared to have your taste buds tantalized! For our Southern C friends not attending this Summit, be sure to dine at Fish on your next visit to Charleston. Scout's honor - you will like it!
At the helm of this innovative establishment is Chef Nico Romo, South Carolina’s only French Master Chef. Chef Romo artfully crafts fresh, seasonal ingredients into vibrant interpretations of classic French cuisine with a delicate Asian touch and unrivaled presentation. He has also directed Patrick Properties Hospitality Group’s celebrated culinary programs across four historic venues since 2007.
Chef Romo’s signature approach underscores a charismatic blend of raw passion and an eye for creative detail, cultivated over the course of an international career alongside leading names in the industry. Not that his singular talent has gone unnoticed: widespread praise has garnered invitations from prominent food and wine events that include the Culinary Vegetable Institute (CVI) Earth to Table Dinner and a De Gustibus Cooking School showcase, as well as a sold-out dinner at New York’s James Beard House and top honors from his native France.
The classically trained chef is the youngest ever to be awarded the coveted title Master Chef of France – joining an elite assembly regarded as the most highly skilled in techniques and traditions of the French culinary art. Chef Romo shares the distinction with only 52 recipients nationwide. The accolade is furthered by Chef Romo’s recent place among the American and Canadian delegations of l’Académie Culinaire de France, totaling 1,080 members worldwide, where he again makes history as the youngest US member since the renowned organization’s founding in 1879.
Born in Lyon, France, Chef Romo graduated from the Helene Boucher Culinary Art School in Vénissieux at age 19. He refined his skill under the tutelage of French Master Chef Patrick Henriroux at Hotel and Restaurant “La Pyramide” in Vienne, France, before rising to prominence among the United States’ finest hotels. Chef Romo’s career has spanned roles at Chez Philippe in the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, TN, and the Ritz Carlton, Atlanta, GA. Chef Romo opened the third location of B.E.D. restaurant at The Glenn, Atlanta’s first boutique hotel.
Now in Charleston, Chef Romo delights guests with his warm candor and inspired menu of locally harvested cuisine. He also dedicates his time and talents to community organizations such as WINGS for Kids and Louie’s Kids, serving as team mentor in the annual Big Chef Little Chef Challenge. In his commitment to local farmers, Chef Romo collaborated with area chefs to spearhead two barn raising events that collected a total of $40,000 in aid toward rebuilding efforts.
First food memory:
My grandmother’s gnocchi with our family sauce.
Five ingredients always in your pantry:
noodles, Nutella, Fleur de Sel, lentil, cornichons.
Five ingredients always in your fridge:
Cream, butter, cheese, eggs, garlic
What are some of your go-to items you like to serve at a cocktail party?
Assorted dim sum including duck confit steam bun, goat cheese panini & croque madame
What would you want for your last meal?
Grandmother’s gnocchi (see food memory)
Dream guest list of three people for a dinner party and why?
My wife, my daughter and my dog. They mean the most to me.
Career if you not a chef?
Architect/ kitchen designer.
Do you have a favorite Southern dish that is always better “old school” rather than updated or “improved?”:
The Rob Roy
Happy in the Kitchen: The Craft of Cooking the Art of Eating by Michel Richard
Favorite Kitchen Gadget:
Favorite artist/musician to listen to in the kitchen:
Ray LaMontagne (the old stuff!)
Favorite culinary destination and why?
Lyon, France- it is home.
If you liked this post, read about:
Chef Michelle Weaver here
Chef Shawn Kelly here
Chef Chris Stewart here
Chef Marc Collins here
Chef Sarah O'Kelley here
Chef Greg Marks here
Chef Travis Grimes here
Whitney Long is c0-founder of The Southern C and a Southern Living contributing editor. Through this series, she gets to meet some of the South's finest and most creative chefs all while indulging without the calories.