Captain Hippolyte Nicolas was the first fencing coach at the Fencers’ Club in New York City. He came to America (from Prussia) in 1876. He was as famous for the meals he prepared after the nightly fencing festivities, as he was for his fencing training. No man was his equal in preparing a novice to hold his own against experienced fencers. He had a system to quickly teach his students the basics of the sport. The Captain WAS the Fencers Club. His reputation that has remained in print to this day is that of a highly motivated and inspiringly passionate man who while spending little time on the technical points of fencing execution, trained very aggressive competitors.
He was also a chef. When the New York Fencers Club opened its doors in 1883, Charles De Kay hired Captain Nicholas and after each night’s practice, the Captain would set out a feast for all of the fencers to devour and this helped to develop a comraderie that held the club together for generations. “The man who has not eaten of the pea salad of Capt. Nicholas has not yet lived. He does not know his own palate. There is more in heaven and earth and Capt. Nicholas’s salad bowl than are dreamed of in his philosophy. Let every man who can go to the Authors’ Club, eat of the salad of Nicholas, and be blessed thenceforth forevermore. The beer is the sauce for the salad. The one is the complement of the other. No man has realized beer until he has experienced it in company with the salad of Nicholas.” May 31, 1885