Nik Manojlovich on the enthusiastic chaos of his latest project
By Shannon Sutherland
Photo credit: Remus & Co.
Sometimes vindication tastes like fish, inspiration sounds like loons and connection comes from a blowtorch. It’s all part and parcel of Nik Manojlovich’s wonderful world.
Manojlovich, a former event planner, restaurant and hotel executive, and the Gemini Award-winning host, writer and co-creator of TV series Savoir Faire, has discovered his newfound peace and passion with his latest venture, Weekend at the Cottage. The website gives the inventive entrepreneur and his team a forum to share stunning photography, blogs and videos that help cottagegoers make the most of their time and experiences outside city limits.
The former “avowed city guy,” as he describes himself, says his ideal weekend used to be one of whirlwind shopping and partying in New York, so this has been an unlikely departure. In 2008, Manojlovich found what would eventually become his new beginning when he purchased his beloved cottage, located at the end of a rural road at the edge of a pristine lake.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been happier both professionally and personally,” he says. “It’s a highly creative job for me. My job is to prognosticate content. My job is to figure out how we elevate people’s experiences on the weekend. When people are at the cottage, it is all about moments they’re sharing together. With this project, I get to be part of people’s experience doing that.”
He says content for the platform is brainstormed by his team and comes organically from their own cottage experiences. “I’ll be sitting there with the team, and I’ll say something like, ‘Do you think people are going to want to know how to cook a whole fish?’ And half the people on the team will say there’s no way. Nobody is going to want to do it. And I’ll say no, I’m going for it, and then I do. I felt so vindicated seeing that gorgeous fish come off the grill, and then shooting it and sharing the beauty of it.”
Manojlovich comes from a family of five children, and he and his four older sisters all share a passion for entertaining. He admits, “If there is ever somebody to start a business without a plan, it is me.” Yet, brilliant success continues to follow him.
It even managed to find him while he was tucked away at his quirky cottage, which he says demands that love be a little bit blind. “You know those really beautiful, perfectly pristine properties, with the completely manicured lawns and the gorgeous interiors that are magazine ready? My cottage is the antithesis of that,” he says.
He says it is a pieced-together, mismatched masterpiece, but it is quirky and cozy and wonderful. “I can sit outside and listen to the loons and look up at the bright blue sky, and it is actually life changing.”
Solitude and nature fuel Manojlovich’s passion and productivity. He says there is nothing he loves more than walking his property barefoot, connecting with the earth and talking to wildlife.
Weekend at the Cottage fans get it. They get him. The project resonates with fans and followers on a level that goes much deeper than entertaining – it’s a connection. “Someone will send me a picture. And I’ll say, ‘Oh, what is that? Is that an apricot? Oh, they made our apricot cobbler!’ I love being accessible and knowing they want to share that with me,” he explains.
The true beauty of Weekend at the Cottage is that it includes, welcomes and isn’t afraid to take risks. Enthusiastic chaos is celebrated. “Early on, in my personal experiences, I learned that part of the fun is to allow people to contribute,” he says, adding that this is the true recipe for fun and joy on a weekend.
“We were working on the shed one weekend, and I was incapacitated, because I was so neck-deep in the project. One of my friends said, ‘Okay, don’t you guys worry. I’m doing dinner.’ We go in, and it was this beautiful gourmet dinner. My kitchen was a disaster. He used every pan in the kitchen, but that was so okay,” he says. “When it was time for dessert, he turned to his host and said, ‘Hey, any chance you have a blow torch? The magazine says I’m supposed to use a blowtorch to finish off this meringue.’ And I said, ‘I’ve got a blow torch, people!’ You should have seen the look on this guy’s face the first time he was using a culinary torch. It was so beautiful, and he was so proud. We are still talking about it. That’s what I want – to give people memories to talk about.”
With new product launches, recipes and DIY project ideas for the cottage on the horizon, the smiles are likely to keep coming as Weekend at the Cottage continues to evolve. And for as long as the loons call and the front porch beckons, Manojlovich won’t be lacking inspiration.