Chef Nick Benninger found his calling at the age of 16 working at a summer camp in northern Ontario. He fell in love with the kitchen and cooking and since then has “rooted” his career in many of the philosophies he learned in that first encounter with food service. After attending George Brown College, Nick completed his apprenticeship working at kitchens throughout Ontario and finally settling back down in his hometown of Kitchener-Waterloo.
In 2008, Nick opened Uptown 21 with his wife Natalie and, in 2013, the couple went on to open Taco Farm. Uptown 21 has been included in Where to Eat Canada every year since it opened, and recently Taco Farm was featured on the television show You Gotta Eat Here!
In 2016, Nick added two landmark restaurants, Marbles Restaurant and Harmony Lunch, to the portfolio of kitchens that he manages in uptown Waterloo. Having grown his brand to four establishments, it only made sense to create an umbrella company and, in 2017, Fat Sparrow Group was born.
In 2018, Fat Sparrow acquired the Stone Crock Group in St. Jacobs, which would increase the portfolio to six restaurants, a catering company, bakery, butcher shop, three market stalls and a wholesale food producer totalling 220 employees.
Nick has twice appeared on the Food Network, was recognized in Waterloo Region Record’s annual 40 under 40, and joined a local filmmaker to create a food show celebrating the 519 food scene called Nick and Taylor Make a Food Show!
An early adopter and leader in the local food movement, Nick is proud to showcase the cornucopia of great ingredients and produce found in the Waterloo Region.