Chef/Co-Owner Jeremy Nolen
Stoical and straightforward, Jeremy Nolen does not mince words, especially on the subject of his beloved German cuisine. Jeremy’s deep-seeded interest in German food stems from his family. Father Ron Nolen, trained in classical French and European techniques, was an acclaimed chef in the Reading, Allentown/Bethlehem area in Pennsylvania. Chef Ron imparted his love of artisan charcuterie, ethnic cuisines, and hand crafted foods to his son at a young age. Family trips to Europe enhanced Jeremy’s palette and wanderlust. The Nolen’s went beyond the typical American tourist family to discover cuisine by seeking out off-the-beaten-path ethnic neighborhoods and their butcher and specialty shops with meats salted, smoked, and cured in traditional ways. Visiting spread out family year after year, Jeremy grew up eating in local bistros and restaurants throughout the United States and eventually Europe, including German, France, England, Ireland, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands and identifying those experiences as the fabric of his cooking passion.
Working with food alongside his father was a no-brainer and a study base for becoming a great chef. Father Ron was an apprentice chef of the 70’s and believes learning must be passed down through the traditions of butchery, making pastas and baking breads. Apprenticed under Ron at a Reading, PA, country club, 13-year-old Jeremy learned the business of large-scale catering too. At 23 Jeremy presided over the kitchen of Liederkranz, a German restaurant in Reading and gained his chops running the kitchen and creating a truly German-inspired menu.
Next, Jeremy anchored the Speckled Hen, the English gastro-pub in Reading, and enjoyed spinning classic English dishes into flavorful renditions of entrees such as braised rabbit, Shepherd’s Pie, and stuffed trout. From 2003 until 2006, Jeremy was the executive chef at the Crown Plaza, Allentown, and the Gateway Conference Center in Bethlehem, PA.
Searching out new turf, Jeremy came to Philadelphia and worked at Bridget Foys until landing the sous chef position and opening 707 Restaurant and Bar. From there he opened Coquette as the sous chef and quickly rose to executive chef after the departure of the opening chef. Jeremy took a classic approach to French cookery. He arrived in the morning to butcher all his meats and make stocks from scratch that would become the eight or so sauces he created for the menu. Jeremy delighted in taking raw items and painstakingly preparing and transforming them into Coquette specialties such as the duck rillettes, served with toasted bread, cornichons, and currants, or a rich chicken liver pâté, a simple starter that is served with French bread and whipped butter.
For Jeremy, Philadelphia needed a German restaurant, an outlet to showcase his love of German food and to bring to Philadelphia a modern approach to German cooking. Jeremy, along with his pastry chef wife Jessica, were hired by Doug and Kelly Hager to open Philadelphia’s only authentic German restaurant and beer hall, Brauhaus Schmitz. The restaurant was opened to rave reviews from magazines, newspapers, online food blogs, and repeat guests. He achieved this through a philosophy of taking fresh raw ingredients and creating modern renditions of authentic German cuisine. Jeremy is busy planning the special menus and imparting his love of food preservation through curing, smoking, drying and salting – don’t doubt for one minute that homemade sausage, pâté, pickles, mustards, and breads will be coming out of his kitchen faster than you can say guten appetit!
Co-Owner Douglas Hager
Restaurateur Douglas Hager is the owner of Whetstone Tavern, a modern restaurant and charcuterie bar serving upscale American comfort food, as well as Philadelphia’s most authentic German restaurant and bierhall, Brauhaus Schmitz (718 South Street, 267-909-8814), and their sister sandwich shop and delicatessen in Reading Terminal Market, Wursthaus Schmitz. Together with his business partner, Chef Jeremy Nolen, Hager has transformed the way that Philadelphians look at German food and drink, and at Whetstone Tavern, the pair have crafted an artful showcase for Chef Nolen’s hard-earned knack for curing charcuterie, all complemented by a thoughtful and unpretentious beer program designed by Hager. The restaurant is an exciting departure from their German background, and a testament to Hager’s dynamic ability to create welcoming bars and restaurants that satisfy unexplored needs in their neighborhood.
In addition to his gift for hospitality, Hager is an unabashed lover of German beer, and has developed unusually strong, mutually beneficial relationships with breweries abroad. His enduring efforts have resulted in Brauhaus Schmitz pouring an extensive variety of new-to-Philadelphia beers including the arrival of Andechs in 2013; several equally sought-after German beers have made their American debut there, making the bar a landmark in a city known for its compelling beer scene. Hager is always thrilled to engage guests in German beer discussions and is proud to host several Beer School events throughout the year.
Hager debuted Brauhaus Schmitz in 2009 to immediate and ongoing success. The restaurant has earned three of Philadelphia magazine’s coveted “Best of Philly” nods, as well as a complimentary “Two Bells: Very Good” review from The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Craig LaBan. In addition, Hager is the owner of Wursthaus Schmitz in historic Reading Terminal Market, a sandwich and cured meats shop that specializes in made-to-order dishes, imported German delicacies and German-style delicatessen fare, for sale by the pound. Wursthaus debuted in late 2012 and quickly became a staple among the market’s popular food stalls.
Prior to opening Brauhaus Schmitz, Hager earned industry experience at Ludwig’s Garten, a beloved, now-closed German food and drink outpost in Midtown Village. There, he developed a fondness for German beer and a fascination with its thousand-year history. His passion for German brewing culture grew during a two-year hiatus in Germany, where he and his wife, Kelly (Schmitz) Hager, worked in various restaurants and biergartens in Cologne. Upon returning to Philadelphia and Ludwig’s Garten in 2006, the couple immediately began planning their own German bierhall.
Born in Aschaffenburg, Germany to a native mother and his on-duty father, a member of the U.S. Army, Hager is an active member of the Philadelphia community that is home to his restaurants, and serves on the South Street Headhouse District Board of Directors. He chairs their Business Development Committee, and has brought a wealth of now-annual neighborhood-wide street fairs and festivals to the area at Brauhaus Schmitz, with plans for still more with the opening of nearby Whetstone Tavern. He is a graduate of Drexel University, and he and Kelly reside close by Haddonfield, NJ with their son, Andrew, and daughter, Charlotte.
700 S. 5th Street Philadelphia, PA 19147