Some boys grow up playing baseball. Nick Farina grew up playing chef. As a child growing up in Flourtown, PA, he reveled in watching his favorite TV star, Julia Child. That is, when he wasn’t pulling the pots and pans out of the kitchen cabinets and setting them up on his “stove” also known as the living room sofa.
Today, Nick, chef/owner of Verdad in Bryn Mawr on Philadelphia’s Main Line, is exactly where he should be. Getting there, however, was a circuitous route. Following high school graduation, he went off to Temple University to study landscape design and horticulture, with a view toward joining the family landscape business.
But the only thing that made him happy was cooking – “my friends would tell me, ‘you ought to be a chef,’ ” he says – and so he enrolled in Philadelphia’s Restaurant School to pursue his dream and develop his talent. An internship at John Anderson’s Solaris Grill in the city’s Chestnut Hill neighborhood led to a position as sous chef. Recognizing the young man’s ability, Anderson sent Farina to the Culinary Institute of America for continuing education.
From there it was off the Grand Tier at New York’s fabled Metropolitan Opera House, where the atmosphere had the intensity of … well, an opera. Forced to prepare a high-end menu that would allow music lovers to make their 8 p.m. curtain, Farina learned about life in a pressure cooker. He was ready to return to Solaris, where he became chef de cuisine.
He soon earned a reputation for taking familiar ingredients and turning them into something unique. The word reached locally-based celebrities, and Nick became personal chef to Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal. He was also in demand as a food consultant. Then, while working for Sysco Food Systems, his life took an exciting new turn. He married and decided that it was time to have a restaurant and a family of his own.
Nick Farina lives with his wife two sons, and daughter in Swarthmore, PA, and is operating an exciting new restaurant. It’s a dream come true. Only now the stove is real and the pots belong to him.