Chef David Burke Reveals Answers To All Of Our Best Foodie Questions

Did you always know you wanted to be a chef?

I was with some high school friends, and they were like, “You wanted to be a chef when you were a sophomore in high school. How did you know?” I’m like, “I didn’t know anything about where it would take me.” I just knew that there was something in it that made me happy to produce and cook and create and be part of a team, and be able to see a finished product on a daily basis. You don’t have to wait a year to see the project done, you make something and you’re part of a team. I think that was part of it. I also think there’s a hospitality gene in certain people. You understand you’re doing something good. 

Was your family supportive?

When I got in the restaurant business, it was a bad choice of career. Everybody told me that. It was in the late ’70s and you didn’t get into it because it was respected, you didn’t get into for the money, you didn’t get into it for the fame. Being a chef was nothing back then. My dad says to me, “David, what is this talk about you want to be a chef or cook or whatever?” 

I said, “Yeah, dad.” I’m a smart kid, I’m a good athlete, I’m a pretty good boy in school, a little bit of a rascal, a little bit of a prankster. 

My dad goes, “David, I know you smoke pot. I just didn’t realize how much. Why the hell would you want to be a chef? Are you stoned?” 

It was like telling your father, “I want to be a maid. I want to be a janitor.” Being a cook was not looked upon as a profession. It was something you did without an education. First of all, you didn’t need a license for it, you still don’t, which baffles me. Here’s a profession, you could poison somebody, and you don’t need a license. But in order to fix their toilet, you do.

I understand you’re also a puppeteer?

Amateur puppeteer, yes. I’m proud of that.

Can you talk about your puppet assistant, Lefto?

Entertaining people with Lefto, that was fun actually.

Any plans for Lefto going forward?

Yeah, Lefto, he’s been dating a little lately, so I gave him a break. He’s got a girlfriend — a female puppet, her name is Nutmeg — she’s a mixologist, so she’s going to teach drinks, and I’m going to teach, through Lefto, how to cook for a woman you meet on a dating site, like how to cook your first date meal.

Seriously? I’d watch.

It’s educational, it’s humorous, and it gives you tips on dating and cooking and drinks.