Nathan Richard | King of Louisiana Seafood and King of American Seafood
Nathan Richard had one heck of a great year! An accomplished chef from Thibodaux, Richard was first crowned King of Louisiana Seafood, then King of American Seafood a few short weeks later. Nathan began his career working at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. His quest for knowledge led him to France and Italy before returning stateside to South Carolina and back to New Orleans. He is currently the Executive Chef at DTB. Nathan is also a part of the Thibodaux Volunteer Fire Department and is an adjunct Professor at The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University. “We couldn’t be prouder of Chef Richard for bringing the title of King of American Seafood back home to Louisiana for a second consecutive year, and fourth time overall,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “We are in for another exciting year of showcasing our state’s fresh, Gulf seafood and flavorful cuisine to the country and the world, and inviting everyone to come Feed Your Soul in Louisiana.”
What path did you take that led you to where you are today?
“After leaving the acclaimed Commander’s Palace, I was highly driven to beat the amazing education I received there. I was inspired to expand my skills beyond pastry and travel to Italy where I worked with highly skilled butchers in Parma. That opportunity led me to France and then the Caribbean, continuing my learning along the way. The chefs and restaurant families I built relationships with continued to push me down the road and back to Louisiana. Ultimately, coming home was my goal, but I wasn’t comin’ back until I had value to add to our great state.”
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“The best piece of advice that I remind myself of daily is from the late and great Mrs. Ella Brennan. When I started my cooking career at Commander’s Palace 20 years ago, I was working in the pastry shop. She decided to sit me down at the Chef’s Table. I was nervous and had no clue I was getting a mouthful of the best advice one could ask for:
Mrs. Ella: ‘Richard (ree-shard), you see how dirty that prep table is?’
Me: ‘Yes, Mrs. Ella. I’ll get on it now.’
Mrs. Ella: ‘No, no get someone else on it, go get us a cup of coffee and have a seat with me. Being a great chef isn’t just about cooking food. A great chef cares – about the iced tea, the coffee, and the outside of the restaurant. Do you like the coffee we’re drinking?’
Me: ‘Is this a trick question? But, yes I love how we brew our coffee here.’
Mrs. Ella: ‘I don’t like it.’
…but before I could say I was going to get it fixed she says, ‘but, it’s not always about me. If the guests love it, who cares what I think.’”
Who has been your greatest influencer on your path to success?
“Three people come to mind. First, my Mom. If it weren’t for her I probably would have never picked up my first pan and spatula. She also taught me to always look your best. Second, my father, who taught me about what it means to really live, how grow our vegetables, how to fish, how to do wood working, and how to actually cook…crazy to think I have made a living from all of the above. Last but not least, my beautiful wife. Because of her support and ‘never give-up’ mentality, I followed my passion. She makes me take it to the next level.”
How are you going to impact the Bayou Region in 2020?
“I have a very creative mind and a hands-on approach. I constantly have ideas swirling around between my ears and I try to take it one day at a time, although it’s hard. I have several things I would like to accomplish; some I can talk about–others time will tell, if I can make it happen. One of them is proudly representing South Louisiana as the King of American Seafood. Also, I am representing our great state and the Gulf South as an Ambassador for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Firefighter Stairclimb. Finally, I hope to start my own family in my hometown, and part of this ‘family’ includes a restaurant in Thibodaux. I was always told to ‘never forget where you came from’ by the late Johnny ‘Jambalaya’ Percle.”
How do you start your day?
“I have a few starts to my day first as husband, then a firefighter, then a chef. I start at 4 a.m. saying good morning to my sleeping wife, waking up my dog, and brewing a couple cups of coffee. Next, I climb 110 plus flights of stairs in my turnout gear. This is time to remember all the first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and for our community. Then it’s coffee time again with the wife and dog. Next, I head to the restaurant to work with the team on food, service, and culinary creativity.”
Outside of work, what is something you are passionate about?
“I think it’s pretty cool that I can represent our state, not only as a chef, but a firefighter, too. I get to go around the U.S cooking Louisiana Seafood, but also dropping in and cooking for our men and woman in different uniforms!”•