Nathan Scarbro traded his hammer for a knife four years ago.
Living in his car and crashing with friends, Scarbro had run out of options as a construction worker when the housing bubble burst. Then an old friend, working at the Ore House Restaurant, mentioned an opportunity to wash dishes over a weekend. The restaurant was short a hand in the dish pit, and Scarbro needed the work. “I wasn’t above washing dishes,” said Scarbro.
Over those two days, his strong work ethic and determination caught the eye of General Manager and Chef Ryan Lowe. Lowe wanted Scarbro to cook. “He gave me a knife and a culinary book,” said Scarbro.
That weekend, Lowe noticed Scarbro’s attention to detail. “He works incredibly clean and always stays organized. These traits that were built into him from a background in construction have set a firm foundation for him that I believe have helped him to become a great chef over the past four years,” said Lowe. “I am so proud that I can say that I played a small role in influencing him to put down his framing hammer and pick up a chef’s knife.”
Lowe was also struck by Scarbro’s genuine personality, oversized heart, and day-changing smile. “Nate is hands down the hardest working guy that I know. No matter how challenging the work, Nate is always up for it and puts his heart into doing his absolute best,” said Lowe. “All of these things combined have made him an incredible asset to me and the restaurant, I feel very lucky to have him on our staff. The Ore House wouldn’t be the same without him.”
Now, Scarbro is the sous chef at the Ore House, having worked his way through the kitchen. There’s always more to learn while working in the restaurant business, but that’s a challenge Scarbro is happy to face. “I couldn’t have done it without Ryan and Cliff,” said Scarbro. “I’m still learning and that’s what I like about it.”
Head Chef Cliff Bornheim and Lowe have been supportive of Scarbro from the beginning, from helping him learn the ins and outs of running a kitchen, connecting with him during a difficult day, and passing on the technical skills of being a chef.
Scarbro has found the kitchen to be a difficult but rewarding place. His favorite dish to both cook and eat is the shrimp scampi with fresh pasta. “It’s such a technical thing. Two drops of oil and it’s difficult to work with – it’s too soft,” said Scarbro. “That’s pretty awesome to have fresh, home-made pasta. That’s really unique, especially for a steak house.”
Scarbro continues to work hard and hone his skills and technique. “My mom said if you get your foot in the door of what you like, run with it, and I did,” said Scarbro, who moved from California to Durango when he was a child. “I feel really lucky. It’s just incredible how things like that work out sometimes. It was just meant to be.”
Originally published on the Ore House’s website during April 2014.