Bambara Restaurant, Salt Lake City
Bambara – Salt Lake City
Nathan Powers, Executive Chef at Bambara Restaurant in Salt Lake City, steps on the wild side when he goes on antelope hunting expeditions. Needless to say, he knows his knives. And because Nathan's food – ranging from pan-roasted filets of beef to Utah red trout – is always a cut above, we asked him to share his secrets.
- Q: We hear you're a knife guy.
- A: Knives are something I collect, appreciate and totally dork out about. Let's say it's a Sunday and I'm at home and have just grilled a fat steak. It's resting on the cutting board and everyone is sitting down to dinner. I'm drooling over the array of knives in front of me and trying to decide which to honor this steak with. It's like a car collector trying to decide which auto to cruise around in on a fine morning. To me, knives are a fascinating balance of craftsmanship, art, tradition, history, utility and beauty. It's interesting because food and cooking share all of these attributes.
- Q: How do you put all of your knives to work?
- A: I have a couple hundred and always have one on me, almost like a watch or jewelry! This is mostly for work. Some knives never leave my safe (mostly hunting knives), some only get used for special dinners at home, and others are so utilitarian I open pickle buckets with them or use them as box-cutters.
- Q: What are the knives you couldn't do without?
- A: My three main everyday work knives are a small 7-inch Japanese Chef's knife that I sharpen maybe three times a month, a 9-inch slicer called a Brieto Sujihiki that I rarely sharpen and could shave with, and a cheap German Forschner boning knife that I have had since 1988 and have sharpened so many times that it's barely a ¼ wide.
- Q: What do you like to cut – meat or fish?
- A: Technique-wise I think I'm a very good butcher. I definitely prefer cutting meat over fish. This year I processed from start to finish my brother-in-law's 900-pound elk that he got while hunting. The simple glory of slicing our 12-oz. Dry Aged New York for our steak frites into "thin but not too thin" rosy slices and shingling it on a large, stark white oval platter pretty much makes my day every time.
- Q: How do you best care for a good knife?
- A: Carbon steel knives rust easily, and you clean them with a green scrub pad with a mixture of soap and oil. Cleaning regular stainless steel knives is pretty straightforward – just clean and rinse dry.
- Q: And how about tips for handling knives safely?
- A: The best knife safety line I ever heard was, "Ancient Chinese proverb – falling knives have no handles." If you drop a knife, get out of the way!
Watermelon Gazpacho Recipe
One of Bambara's favorites, get the recipe for Chef Nathan's Watermelon Gazpacho.
Bambara SLC | 202 South Main St., Salt Lake City, UT 84101 | Phone: (801) 363-5454 | www.bambara-slc.com