Bio: With more than 20 years’ experience in the kitchens of some of the world’s most celebrated restaurants, executive chef Nathan Powers brings an ongoing passion for cooking to Salt Lake’s Bambara Restaurant.
Born and raised in Rochester New York, Powers attended the College of Wooster in Ohio and spent four years traveling and cooking for a living before entering the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Hyde Park. His professional culinary journey was effectively launched in 1992, midway through studies at the CIA. That was the year he took a cross-country leap, right into the kitchen of San Francisco’s Stars. On a dare from a classmate, Powers called the restaurant and suggested that he was ready to do his required “externship” at the legendary restaurant. Then-executive chef Mark Franz answered the phone and invited him to join the team, sight unseen.
Under the mentorship of executive chef Mark Franz and chef/owner Jeremiah Tower, Powers' externship at Stars set the course for more than 16 years of cooking "from the soul, from the hip, from the right brain and the left, and always with passion," to quote the chef himself. Following his CIA graduation with honors, Powers joined Stars as a full-time chef de partie and then as purchasing manager through 1995. While famous politicians, divas and glitterati wined and dined in that magical restaurant, Powers was behind the scenes, helping making it all happen and mastering time-honored techniques applied to the best seasonal ingredients, deeply rooted in the rhythms of the seasons.
In 1995, Powers joined the opening team at Hawthorne Lane, working with rising culinary stars Anne and David Gingrass. He held the positions of poissonier and sous chef at that artful restaurant. In 1997 Powers rejoined his mentor, Mark Franz, helping him open Farallon, Franz’s tribute to seafood. He worked with him for the next six years, moving up to chef de cuisine, a position he held for four years. Then, says Powers, his "inner ski bum" kicked in and he took off for a year of skiing while cooking at Moody's Bistro at Lake Tahoe. Shortly thereafter, he launched "Ethereal Private Chef Service." He eventually moved back to San Francisco and joined Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. After filling in as an interim chef at the Grand Café, he moved back east to Cambridge, working as executive chef at the east-coast version of Salt Lake’s Bambara. There he met his now-wife, and life took a detour to Utah. Once again following his passions, Powers took the helm at Salt Lake’s Bambara in November 2008.
Though he admits to a lifelong devotion to "all things Burgundian" (steak frites with Béarnaise is a favorite), Powers' menus at Bambara embrace straightforward New American fare, including lovingly prepared seafood and hearty game. Powers has a lifelong love of skiing, Ferraris, and a fetish for Italian bicycles. In fact, he collects, builds and sometimes sells them. His current masterpiece is a vintage Colnago. An avid game cook, Powers has recently taken up hunting with his father-in-law.