Chef Nick Bongle was born in Green Bay Wisconsin. Both his parents were good cooks and enjoyed cooking. By the age of 7 or 8 they gave Nick, the oldest of their three children, the opportunity to cook on a regular basis with them.
During his high school years he moved up to working at a bar and restaurant. Initially he was “simply a dishwasher” but soon moved into line cooking. In this position he not only gained new cooking skills but also discovered he loved the ambiance and the demands which challenged the chefs.
He went onto Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in the Twin Cities. He did his student externship at Kincaid’s, a classic American grill, staying on the culinary team there for almost a year following graduation. Over the next five years, Bongle refined his practice.
In 2012 Bongle joined the culinary team at The Loop until plans began for Five West. He helped establish the kitchen set-up and provided menu input before moving across town to serve as head chef when Five West opened its doors in 2015.
On a daily basis Bongle loves the busyness and the “successful service” he finds the Five West team delivering. While kitchen personalities can often present challenges and obstacles, he finds “the drama is lacking” at Five West. Even on the busiest days things just seem to work out. “We crush it well,” Bongle notes, adding, “It’s a natural high.”
What he finds essential in whatever kitchen he is cooking in includes lemons, garlic, salt, a good chef’s knife and yes, spoons. “I am always tasting,” observes Bongle, who is perhaps the worst critic of his own preparations.
Bongle is cognizant and concerned over special dietary needs. He encourages diners to convey these as he and staff strives to accommodate individual needs of patrons.
In recent weeks a new menu launched including new items like the Tuna Tartare appetizer with a Latin flare, Short Ribs offered as tacos for an appetizer or to top a patty comprising a unique burger, and Spanish Chicken served on saffron rice. Vegetarians will be particularly pleased to find a unique Veggie Lasagna on the spring menu, comprised of thin sheets of polenta layered with a cream corn sauce, roasted cauliflower, spinach and Mozzarella cheese.
Bongle loves to experiment with Southern and Cajun Creole style food. He realizes such flavors often challenge the Midwest palate, but nevertheless he is excited to continue offering new menu items over time and perhaps more of these flavors will appear.
Bongle is planning a unique evening on June 7 with a special dinner menu set to pair with wines from Maryhill Winery in Washington. Seating is limited. Interested persons should inquire at Five West in person or call 507-361-5555.