“There are points in your career where you start to cook the way you want to eat; that’s where I am now.” – Chef David Burke
David Burke is world-renowned as a chef, artist, entrepreneur, cookbook author, innovator and inventor. In 2009, he won the James Beard Award for Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America and was twice nominated earlier for Best Chefs in America. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a student at the École Lenôtre Pastry School in Plaisir, France, his 30-year career includes opening over a dozen celebrated restaurants. David is often recognized from his TV appearances on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, NBC’s TODAY Show and as a featured guest on Rachael Ray’s Every Day Show. In 2015, David joined ESquared Hospitality as a Culinary Partner to open new restaurants nationwide including his latest restaurant, Tavern62 by David Burke which opened in October 2016 on New York City’s Upper East Side. For our first interview of the New Year, we sat down with David to ask what’s currently on his plate.
It’s the beginning of a New Year, a time when many are making a fresh start and making resolutions about diet and nutrition. What are some easy ideas to incorporate more vegetables and fruits into a daily diet?
Have pre-cut fruit and vegetables ready in your refrigerator and make olive oil-based dipping sauces for them. Winter is a good time to make vegetable soups and stews. I would also recommend buying an Indian cookbook (lay off spices if you don’t like heat) to get inspiration for vegetarian dishes.
Are there any professional secrets or tips you can share on your favorite ways to prepare vegetables?
I like to slowly sauté my vegetables. Cut them smaller and add olive oil, onion, and garlic, then let them caramelize. That works for home fries, a vegetable hash, a filling for a pasta, a purée, or the base of a soup.
When you’re cooking at home or for friends, what are some of your favorite meatless dishes?
Pasta. Cous Cous. Eggplant Parmesan. Stuffed Zucchini Boats. Couch potatoes, which we serve at BLT Prime by David Burke. Cabbage is also really underrated.
At your new restaurant Tavern62 by David Burke, what winter vegetables are you looking forward to using and where do you source them from?
Salsify, parsnips, parsley root, celery root, butternut squash, kale, and cabbage. We source produce from the Hunts Point Produce Market.
Sustainable foods are a topic of discussion these days. What are your thoughts on the subject and why is this important?
With any good business comes responsibility. Responsibility of keeping a sustainable supply is important for the future.
Your restaurants are typically meat heavy or meat-centric. Why are you interested in supporting and participating in Meatless Monday?
My restaurants are designed for great business that highlight hospitality and give our customers what they want. My personal choice and vision for the future is to start segueing into more vegetarian-centric and healthy eating options because no matter what other food trends come and go, customers being more aware of what goes into their food is a trend that will only continue to grow.
I think we go through cycles. There are points in your career where you start to cook the way you want to eat; that’s where I am now.