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Young sous-chef keeps up a busy pace

Eileen JoyceSous-chef Nathan Schwarz is seen here Tuesday in the kitchen at Kirby's Creekside Restaurant & Bar in Nevada City.
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They say he hobbled into work, sore from jogging with ankle weights. Once he casually mentioned that he dug a ditch before his shift.

The kid is up early to exercise before school and still awake around midnight doing homework. He also gets good grades, likes his parents, and cooks for his friends.



Learn that much, and then consider predictions that 18-year old Nathan Schwarz, high-energy guy, will become Nathan Schwarz, super chef.




The Nevada Union High School senior is already the sous-chef – No. 2 in the kitchen – at Kirby’s Creekside Restaurant & Bar in Nevada City and plans to attend culinary school, either in San Francisco or New York City.

Owner Kirby Sechovec called him a “genius” in food preparation and a “food processor” with a knife.

“I think he’ll be one of the best chefs in the country once he gets done with culinary school,” he said, describing how Schwarz can shake a saute pan and direct a staff of four or five others.

No. 1 in the kitchen, executive chef Dave Ackerman, recalled asking Schwarz one night: “Can you do something with this rack of lamb?”

He returned the next day to find the lamb stuffed with mushrooms and breaded with herbs. Schwarz has also invented specials, including a vegetable and cheese tower served to New Year’s Eve patrons.

“His creativity for his age is very impressive,” Ackerman said.

So creative that Schwarz, who was serious but still grinned, said he can imagine a day when worms and exotic insects become delicacies.

So what drives him?

He likes working in a 95-degree kitchen, when he’s “drinking water like crazy” and the kitchen cranks out 30 meals an hour – as he makes just over $8 an hour.

He thrives, he said, on “just the excitement, the fast pace. Stress, I guess. Just constant moving and communicating with everyone.”

What’s his favorite dish to prepare?

“Just anything, as long as it’s busy. If it isn’t busy, it’s not that fun,” said Schwarz, who’s worked at the restaurant nearly a year and plans to stay at least one more to save money for school.

His favorite foods include sushi, escargot, oysters on the half shell and curry dishes.

Schwarz started in the business at The Owl Grill & Saloon in Grass Valley, where his mom, Mary, was a waitress. His dad, Oly, is a jeweler.

Believe it or not, Schwarz has images of slowing down – while running his own restaurant.

“You can just sit back and watch everybody else work from then on,” he said.


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