David has a catalogue of Michelin-starred experience and meticulously high technical standards, but it's his passion for home cooked, honest food and a refreshing approach to running a kitchen that makes this chef's culinary style noteworthy.
It all started when the teenage David got the cooking bug while earning money to fund his art degree studies. "I was washing dishes in this two AA rosette restaurant in Edinburgh and over time I was doing commis chef duties. I really loved it, so by the time I got to the third year of my degree I was actually spending more time cooking than studying," he says.
Inspired, and having been given a book listing every three-starred Master Chef in France, he wrote to each one, asking for work. Not one replied but the determined David moved to France and began knocking on doors. He found himself with three months' unpaid work at the esteemed Joel Robuchan's three Michelin-starred Jamin in Paris.
"They had 45 chefs to 42 covers and I was working a 95 hour week. It was a fairly brutal environment; people were being sacked every day. Securing your position was about working hard, listening and keeping your head down." An environment he thrived in. "It changed my view of everything," he says. "I remember my first couple of weeks, it was like starting from scratch. You felt you knew nothing; everything you had previously been taught was challenged." He stayed three years, leaving as chef de partie on pastry.
Returning home at the age of 22 he would eventually go on to run illustrious places such as Greywalls in East Lothian, Summer Lodge in Dorset, Alimentum in Cambridge and Michelin-starred Chapter One in London.
"I was really lucky - if that's the right word - that I started cooking when it was deemed very rock and roll, the Marco era when cooking was seen as sexy" he says.
David is adamant that there should be a new approach to training chefs of the future. "It's all about nurturing and providing options."
This is a chef who, relishes home cooking. “It’s the pleasure in a house full of smells – bubbling stews, fresh bread out of the oven…” he wants to encourage young chefs to have the same attachment, “an emotional investment in food,” as he calls it. That combined with an acute understanding of technical skill – it’s a winning combination.
“It’ll be honest, technical cooking where flavour is paramount. I’m not a fan of trends or fads. It has to be honest and natural, and of course you can’t come to Cornwall and not expect the freshest fish out of the sea, so the food served must be respectful of that.
“Above all, the most important people are the people eating the food. I don’t care if it’s a burger or a whole lobster wrapped in pastry, I want whoever is coming to eat to leave happy.”
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