David Burke is a world renowned American chef famous for blurring the lines between chef, artist, entrepreneur and inventor. Throughout his career, David has received many honors and awards and is well known for combining his mastery of French culinary techniques with American creativity. In the gastronomy world, David is considered to be a culinary pioneer whose innovations and revolutionizing techniques appear on menus all over the world. He has many successful restaurants to his name, his latest venture is called Tavern62 in NY - a new modern American tavern concept.
Could you give us a glimpse into your childhood. What kind of environment did you grow up in? Were your parents passionate about food and cooking?
I grew up in an all American Middle class, Jersey suburb, near the shore. I was a typical American 70’s kid, in little league, climbing tree houses, and hanging out at the beach/pool.
Do you have a favourite dish from your childhood, maybe something that your parents or grandparents used to make?
My favorite dishes from my childhood are my mom’s baked ziti and peanut butter, jelly & banana French toast.
At what point did you realise that gastronomy is your true passion in life and you want to be a chef?
I realized I wanted to be a chef when my dad enrolled me in a cooking school, trying to talk me out of being a chef.
What part of your job would you say allows you to express your creativity the most?
Designing restaurants, creating a menu and the presentation of the dish allows me to express myself the most.
Would you say that cooking is more art or science - or is it 50/50?
Cooking is more of an artistic approach, with a scientific foundation.
What brings you most excitement and joy - is it coming up with new recipes, putting a menu together, starting a new venture or something else?
Seeing the success of my students, who take my creativity with them, and then seeing my influence in their creations. AND seeing the infant stages to the final stages of my creations.
You studied in France and are known for mastery of French culinary techniques. Can you share with us what you love about the French cuisine and what other cuisines are you inspired by?
I like the history of French food, as the respect the French have for the art of the meal and their product, from bread and butter to chocolate and coffee. And everything in between.
You have worked with some legendary chefs throughout your career - Pierre Troisgros, George Blanc, Charlie Palmer just to name a few. To what extent do you think they have influenced your culinary style?
Every great chef has help me form what is now the David Burke cooking style. I have learned and borrowed from each one, taking their most impressive items and transforming them into my own.
You are actively involved in culinology which is an approach to food blending culinary arts and food technology. Could you elaborate on this subject and tell us why you are passionate about culinology?
I try to stay active in things I can always learn from. It’s a great learning opportunity and leads to more creativity.
If you could cook a dinner for anyone who would you choose and why?
I want to cook for my 2 grandfathers I have never met, and give them the best meal they would have ever eaten.
What’s the best thing about being a chef?
The best thing about being a chef is, it’s never boring, unpredictable, creativity, the high energy, camaraderie, and the sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
What’s the worst thing about being a chef?
The worst thing about being a chef, is the demanding schedule, the rhythm of the calendar, such as holidays and weather, and the transient workforce.
What is your idea of happiness?
Waking up with all of my senses intact, and recognizing the person next to me .
What would you like to say to your 16 old self?
I would tell myself, ‘moderation young man’.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a TV show, a radio show, a cooking school, new locations and product development.