When Opportunity Knocks
To be a chef is to court creativity. It is to imagine a marriage of flavors and textures and then produce it on a plate. Success is dependent upon the preferences and palates of their guests. It is a daunting and yet welcoming challenge that chefs face everyday. There are chefs that are happy to take an existing menu and add their own nuances of taste and quality. There are also chefs that desire to create their own menus, to take a concept from scratch and make it their own. This is an opportunity that doesn’t present itself as often as some chefs may desire. Yet, when it does, a chef’s whole world can change …
Subject: Nathan Thurston
Executive Chef - Stars Restaurant
Grill Room and Rooftop Bar
Origins: Greensboro, NC
Education: Johnson & Wales University, Business Culinary Arts. Last class to graduate at Charleston campus.
Evolution: At 15 Nate took a restaurant job washing dishes. He noticed that the cooks always seemed to be having more fun, so decided to give cooking a try. By 18, Nate was the Sous Chef at Josephines in Marion, NC. It was at that point that he decided to go to culinary school. The journey that followed includes The Biltmore Estate (Asheville, NC), The White Horse Inn (Madison, WI), The Vineyards (Winston-Salem, NC), Fish (Charleston, SC) and The Atlantic Room (Kiawah Island, SC). His last position was the Executive Chef of The Ocean Room, a member of the culinary team since the opening of The Sanctuary (Kiawah Island, SC).
Professional Sideline: Nate teaches at the Arts Institute of Charleston. Classes have ranged from Regional Cuisines such as European and Southern American to professional Competition classes. Nates feels teaching is an organic process that occurs both in the classroom and in any successful kitchen.
Passionate Distractions: Nate loves hanging with his two gorgeous Weimaraners, tinkering with his Jeep CJ7 and as all chefs, exploring the dining scene in Charleston.
(gotta ask) Why Leave Such a Prestigious Position? Nate felt an isolation on Kiawah. Though the job was amazing, there was a disconnect from the energy and dynamic among farmers and chefs in the downtown scene. Opportunity knocked, Nate answered, and Keith Jones and partners entered with an interesting concept that is Stars.
What the Future Holds: Live fire kitchen. In greater Charleston, only Heart Wood Fire Kitchen on James Island has explored the concept‘s potentials, Now, after the 20th draft of their menu, Nate feels that he and his staff have finely honed the dishes that will showcase this trending restaurant concept. He is ready to bring the “live fire” kitchen to new levels on Upper King. Incorporating local, quality ingredients with a “from scratch” culinary discipline, he is sure to succeed.
Personal Philosophy: Nate feels that a kitchen functions at its highest level when there is shared learning and ideas. To develop and educate your staff while fostering mutual respect is to nurture potential talents and to create an environment that engenders loyalty with a sense of ownership. Nate is well on his way toward creating that collaborative kitchen at Stars Grill Room and you can bet that Charleston will be tasting the difference that a philosophy can make.