How Mom Inspired this Chef in the Kitchen
Many people can name their favorite dish from Mom, but what Chef Nate Weir, our director of culinary operations, remembers most is how everything he ate was made from scratch. Born and raised in Haiti by his missionary parents, Chef Nate’s childhood was a little different from most.
"I lived in Port-au-Prince until I was about 12. We lived on a compound where my dad worked for a radio station,” he says.
Chef Nate’s family faced a couple of cooking challenges in Haiti. First, there weren’t sprawling, well-stocked grocery stores like in the U.S. Without fresh dairy readily available, one of the family’s staples was powdered milk. For Christmas every year his parents gave him and his siblings boxes of gift-wrapped Fruit Loops.
“It was $12 for a box of American cereal because it had to be shipped,” he explains.
Second, the island faced rolling blackouts because there wasn’t always enough electricity to go around.
“At times we’d go weeks without power,” he says.“We couldn’t go in the fridge.”
Chef Nate remembers his mom always embraced Haitian cuisine and fed the family rice and beans, seafood, avocado and breadfruit. He also says she has always been an incredibly adventurous eater, which changed his mindset about food early on.
“My folks were totally down with getting goat meat from the market around the corner. We didn’t go out to restaurants. You couldn’t pull into McDonald’s because you didn’t feel like cooking,” he says.
One of the things he admired most about his mom was her resourcefulness in the kitchen. She made granola, dog food, and all of their birthday cakes from scratch. Through her, he began to see cooking as a way to provide for others.
After working at restaurants while attending college, Chef Nate became a general manager at Applebee’s which led him to culinary school.
“The part I liked was when the kitchen would crash and I would cook circles around everybody. I found a connection to cooking,” explains Chef Nate. “With hands on training, like we have at our restaurants, I found an affinity for it.”
Though Chef Nate’s mom has always enjoyed preparing food for the family, the tables have turned for this chef.
“I made the food for my grandmother’s 84th birthday party. Mom had to be in the kitchen the whole time asking questions and helping out. It took awhile to get used to that,” he says.
Above all, Chef Nate loves cooking for other people, and it’s his upbringing with Mom’s scratch-made food that makes him uniquely prepared to lead Modern Market in its goal to serve healthy food to as many people as possible.