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CHEF CHIT CHAT: Tipp City's Executive Chef Katy Fischer

August 31, 2020

A twenty-minute drive from downtown Dayton, Tipp City’s Coldwater Café has been a culinary hot spot since 1994. Located in a former bank building, their space consists of a bar, main dining room, bank vault, board room, private outdoor deck and a second floor that can be rented out for dining events or larger parties. The cozy, quaint atmosphere lends the perfect backdrop for a mix of classic and innovative dishes, from Fried Green Tomatoes with house made pimento cheese, balsamic reduction and local micro greens to Mojo-Marinated Ostrich with yucca poblano fritters, Peruvian succotash and mojo aioli. The mastermind behind these delectable creations? Executive Chef Katy Fischer. One of the youngest female executive chefs in the area, Katy has established herself as not only excellent at her craft, but also as an innovator and creative problem solver. We got the pleasure to chat with her about her background, thought process and even her advice to those aspiring to follow in her footsteps. Read our interview below:


  1. After graduating from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute in Pittsburgh, you traveled the U.S. honing your craft by working at numerous 5-star resorts. What led you to become Executive Chef at Coldwater Cafe?

After graduating from college, I moved around quite a bit. I thoroughly enjoyed all the cities I lived in and all they had to offer. However, the only thing that was missing was seeing my family. Once my lease was up in Philadelphia, I made the hard decision to move back home. Once I moved back, I saw an ad for a Sous Chef position at Coldwater Cafe. I honestly had never heard of the restaurant before and wasn’t all that familiar with Tipp City. I was actually a little nervous to settle down in a small town. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to show off my creativity, and maybe it wouldn’t be as appreciated like it was in the bigger cities. But I gave it go and was offered the job. I worked as Nick’s Sous Chef for two years, was promoted to Chef de Cuisine, and right before I hit 5 years here, I was promoted to Executive Chef. It was a huge accomplishment for me, especially since I had just turned 25 years old. But I am forever grateful to my boss, Nick Hoover, for all he has done for me, the opportunities he's given me, and the support I continuously feel to constantly push culinary boundaries.


  1. During your travels, you worked under a French Chef who taught you the art of Southern cuisine in Savannah, Georgia. What else has influenced your cooking style and how would you describe it?

I’ve learned so much from all the Chef’s I’ve worked for. From southern cuisine of fried green tomatoes and she crab soup, to Italian cuisine and the art of making fresh pasta by hand, to Mediterranean cuisine and making fresh bread and tapenades, I have a lot of ideas from around the world in my back pocket. I think that’s one of the things that makes my cooking style unique. I don’t ever like to stick to one thing or one flavor profile. I like change and I can appreciate all the flavors in life.

 

  1. How have you had to change your business due to COVID-19, and how have your customers reacted?

I have to say all of us at Coldwater Café were a little afraid of what was going to happen. But that quickly wore off. We started by seeing what would happen and went a few days offering our full menu to see what people would be ordering to-go. Once we got a grasp on what customers were wanting, we limited our menu. Then we started offering delivery. Next came our “drive-thru alley”. We put an alarm in our alley way, so that when guests pulled through it would alert us inside. Business was going very well for us. However, you have to wonder if or when it’s going to slow down. That’s always a possibility. So I started coming up with new ways to bring in revenue. At our store next door, Bodega, we started offering affordable Brown Bag lunches and dinners 5 days a week. That was a winning idea. People were able to grab fresh meals without much interaction with anyone.

Then I had an idea that made me a little nervous, but I knew would be a success... cooking lessons with me. For years now, I have had guests ask me for private cooking lessons. It was the one thing I always said no to. But I decided why not… I came up with the idea of selling meal kits, a different one each week, and offering a virtual cooking class every Saturday night along with it. We started with a Charcuterie Kit paired with wine, a Date Night Kit, and a Kids Kit. We promoted them on our Facebook page, and were floored by the reaction and support of them. To get even more guests involved, we held a contest to name our kits and the winner got a free kit. Mixed drinks to-go also became very popular. We had a limited menu on that as well, but it was just more incentive for customers to continue to support us. Coldwater fans can’t say no to our famous Pear Martini!

 

  1. While the menu at Coldwater Cafe changes seasonally, signature dishes include the Scottish Salmon and the customer-favorite, Quiche of the Day. What is the story behind the famous quiche?

Honestly, there’s no story. But what I can tell you is that what started as such a simple thing, a cheese and egg pie, has grown to be something people will drive a long way for. I truly believe the quiche is even better than it used to be and that’s saying something. The recipe hasn’t changed but we’ve changed the ingredients a bit. We use local swiss cheese and eggs. Who doesn’t love that?! We change the flavor up every day and have even come up with a new Fan Favorite of Bacon Gorgonzola. Don’t turn your nose up at it until you try it. People always say they don’t like blue cheese but wait until you try it.

 

  1. How does choosing local ingredients play into your menu planning and decision-making as a chef?

I try to use as many local businesses as I can, and love to rave about those places when I utilize their products in my dishes. People love local. People love knowing where their food is from. There’s something about knowing that your meal came from down the road, rather than shipped here on a truck. I love supporting small businesses as well. Local is important, absolutely, but small businesses are where my heart lies. Small businesses are what makes America great, and I love being part of a small business in small town America.

 

  1. Being one of the youngest female executive chefs in the Dayton area, what advice would you give to anyone just starting their culinary career?

Don’t do it. Haha, just kidding. Honestly, my advice would be to show up. Show up on time, ready work your tail off, and become one with the words “yes, Chef” and you will go far. Just know that all positions in a kitchen are important and it is very valuable to learn all of them. Climbing the ropes quickly doesn’t happen for everyone. I attribute my success to what I just said. I’ve never been one to shy away from hard work. I always knew what I wanted to do, and I figured out how to do it and do it well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still learning every single day. My staff teaches me things and I welcome that - we should learn from each other as a team. This job comes with sacrifices as well. I work a crazy number of hours in a week. I do not see my family as much as I would like and being tired is the name of the game. But at the end of the day when I walk out of Coldwater’s back door, I’m proud of myself and my team every time.

 

  1. It’s the end of a long shift and foodservice is wrapping up. What is your go-to dish as a reward for all the hard work?

My go-to dish… not sure I have one to be honest. I enjoy a nice glass of wine after a long night. But if I’m really hungry, I go for our “famous” Green Curry on our menu. It’s creamy, spicy, and full of exotic flavors like galangal and kaffir lime. Did I mention it’s vegan? You won’t even miss the meat. It’s so good, you’ll have dreams about it. 

 

We are already dreaming about our next stop at Coldwater Café. Whether it’s for quiche, some fresh pasta or just the pear martini, we encourage everyone living in or just stopping by the Dayton area to pay Katy and her team a visit! Her hardworking attitude and entrepreneurial spirit make us certain we’ll be hearing about Katy’s success for years to come.

 

 

By Marianna Marchenko