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Former Skillet Chef Is Retooling the Menu at the Zoo

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Nick Novello is working with Lancer Hospitality

Chef Nick Novello.
Chef Nick Novello.
Ani Pendergast

Chef Nick Novello has moved on from his role at Skillet, where he's cooked since mid-2013. Novello tells Eater he's now working with the Washington State catering arm of Lancer Hospitality, whose food and beverage clients include cultural attractions, business centers, schools and health care facilities in seven states.

Novello's new gig has him in charge of the menus at recognizable local institutions like the Woodland Park Zoo, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and the Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. He also oversees the menus at the colleges where Lancer provides the food, like Highline College and Shoreline Community College. Businesses like Pemco and McKinstry are also among his Lancer clients.

"This is an exciting change of pace," Novello tells Eater. "I'm going to focus on good local food." He's currently developing a new menu at the Woodland Park Zoo, and says to expect items like a burger called the Woodland Beast, churro ice cream sandwiches, and a Northwest-style beet salad. "We're looking at these places like I would street food, not concession stands."

Skillet President Jon Severson had this to say about Novello's time with the company: “Nick has been a fantastic addition to the Skillet team for more than three years, playing a key role in our successful growth from one restaurant to four while helping us gain both local and national recognition and accolades. We wish him well and much success in his future endeavors, and have plans to announce a new addition to our culinary team shortly.”