The chef’s story: Nathan Gould of the Harbor View

Harbor View Hotel executive chef Nathan Gould loves cooking with Vineyard bounty. —Eli Dagostino

Martha’s Vineyard has no shortage of restaurants, and behind each one, there’s a top-of-the-line chef. The Times decided to get to know these culinary wonders and share their stories.

Nathan Gould is a busy guy. He’s the executive chef for both of the Harbor View Hotel’s eateries and catering. After obtaining a BS in Culinary Nutrition, an MS in Sports Nutrition and Kinesiology, and spending a summer in wine school in Germany, he traveled extensively. Besides employment as chef at many restaurants, he’s worked as a private chef. He arrived on the Island two and a half years ago from Princeton, N.J. His gluten-free Smokey Vineyard Quahog Chowder recently took first place at the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group’s fundraising event.

How did you come to be on the Island?

I was actually called by a close friend who was the food and beverage director [at the Harbor View] at the time. He informed me about the Island and the hotel and how beautiful it was. I started off as the Executive Sous Chef. This will be my third season.

How and when did you start cooking?

I started cooking as a hobby, getting really interested in food at around the age of 11. It was with my mother and grandmother. They were great home cooks, pretty much both from a strong French background. I was intrigued with what they would make — mostly soups and stocks. A lot of old-style French cuisine. I would ask them for the recipes and purchase the ingredients and try to replicate those recipes. My mother and my grandmother let me help around the kitchen all the time. They were very influential people.

Have you ever had a major cooking disaster?

Before this position, when I was younger, I was running a catering company in Princeton, New Jersey. We had a 150-person sit-down dinner — an outside event. Right before the dinner was about to go out our ovens completely went down. We completely lost electricity. We had to light about six or seven charcoal grills and fix mashed potatoes, grill all the meat, and cook all the vegetables on top of the grills. It doesn’t seem that hard, but when you have to feed 150 people, it’s very difficult.

Is there a dish or meal you prepared that was part of a very special occasion?

One of my greatest accomplishments, as far as a celebration for someone, was: there’s a very famous historical man back in Princeton, New Jersey, Dr. Scheide [William H. Scheide, musician, philanthropist, humanitarian, and noted collector of rare books] and every year we would do this grand gala event for his birthday. They would invite musicians and politicians and all these high-end connections. They would fly in an orchestra from Germany and this orchestra would play “Happy Birthday” probably 20 different ways in every style of Bach because that was his favorite composer. We would have this amazing party and this big dinner for him. He actually just turned 99. This is the second year I haven’t been able to be back and do that event for him. It was a great event, very special.

What’s the best single bite you ate in the last week?

A good friend and fisherman brought me some local perch and the perch were full of roe. We smoked two roe sacs, sprinkled on Maldon sea salt — one of the most light and flakey sea salts — and olive oil and ate that with grilled flatbread.

Favorite dish on your menu?

Currently, it would have to be our pork shank, which is a hind shank cut. It’s slow braised for eight hours. We serve it with a cauliflower purée, roasted cauliflower, capers, and a pan pork jus — which is just a reduction of all the beautiful pork stock we have from braising.

What do you cook for a romantic evening with your girlfriend?

She loves tuna, so hopefully I could get some fresh bluefin tuna off the Cape if they’re coming around soon. She loves good sushi and sashimi, which we don’t usually get too much of on the Vineyard. And she loves Thai food. I would probably do something with fresh local tuna for a first course and then do something with homemade noodles with a little Thai influence with the ingredients — she loves coconut milk and lemongrass — for the second course.

For dessert, anything with fresh mangoes. I would probably do a fresh mango sorbet with shaved frozen coconut and tapioca. I don’t normally cook those flavors, but she’s from an island [St. John, VI], so if I were to be making something special, it would be influenced by island flavors.

What are your top five indispensable ingredients?

Safflower oil, duck fat, Maldon sea salt, fresh eggs, and fresh herbs.

Your favorite kitchen tool?

Definitely my knife. I use a 10” Masa Hiro. Without it you’re pretty much lost.

Using local Vineyard produce, fish, game, etc., describe the perfect MV Feast.

I would definitely start the meal off with Honeysuckle Oysters grown by Nick Turner. We use them in the restaurant and we’ve never had a better oyster than his.

For the second course I would definitely take a mixed bowl of greens from Thimble Farms, including mustard greens, micros, and his baby lettuce mix and cover the greens with fresh citrus olive oil, sea salt, and cracked pepper.

The third thing I would do is a slow-roasted chicken from The Good Farm or Cleveland Farm and serve with vegetables and rough greens from one of our surrounding farms like Slip Away or Morning Glory.

For dessert, we made an amazing dessert that we featured in the fall — a Russian olive shortcake.

What is your idea of a perfect day off on Martha’s Vineyard?

Going on a hike with my girlfriend. Usually in the summer when we get a day off together, I like to go spear fishing for sea bass. We go to one of the points off Menemsha or Great Rock and go spearfishing. We actually did one last year where we spearfished and we took the fish to Stanley’s [Larsen’s] fish shop and he cooked it up and we ate it on the beach with a glass of wine.

If it could be anywhere in the world, where would you open your second restaurant?

Probably in the Monterey region of California. I would love to own a small farm with a 30-seat restaurant — somewhere that would be agriculturally sustainable, hopefully in a year-round growing climate. And access to people who are interested in greatly prepared food and want to support the local movement.

What would you be if you weren’t a chef?

A nutritionist and sports trainer, because that’s what my other degree is in. I would be working with clients, training them physically and assisting with their diets. That’s something I’ve always been really interested in.