Chef David Burke
Blurring the lines between chef, artist, entrepreneur and inventor, David Burke is one of the leading pioneers in American cooking today. His fascination with ingredients and the art of the meal has fueled a career marked by creativity, critical acclaim and the introduction of revolutionary products and cooking techniques.
Under the helm of Chef Burke, Executive Chef Dino Tsaknis brings over eighteen years of culinary experience to David Burke’s Primehouse at The James Chicago. Chef Tsaknis draws his creative influence from American and European cuisine using the skills and techniques he has learned throughout his career. Most recently, he served as Executive Sous Chef of David Burke’s Primehouse beginning in September of 2013. He began in the Primehouse kitchen as Sous Chef in February 2008. Previously he was Chef de Cuisine at Caliterra in the Wyndham Chicago Hotel in Chicago. He also opened Michelangelo’s Pizzeria in Wheaton, IL. He began his career as Sous Chef of the Green Dolphin where he was part of the team that increased the rating of the notable eatery from a 1 star to a 3 ½ star restaurant.
Burke’s mastery of French culinary technique was confirmed when, at age 26, he won France’s coveted Meilleurs Ouvriers de France Diplome d’Honneur for unparalleled skill and creativity with his native cuisine. Additionally, Burke has been honored with Japan’s Nippon Award of Excellence, the Robert Mondavi Award of Excellence and the CIA’s August Escoffier Award. Nation’s Restaurant News named Burke one of the 50 Top R&D Culinarians, and Time Out New York honored him as the “Best Culinary Prankster” in 2003. In May 2009, Burke was inducted into the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” by the James Beard Foundation. In the same month, he also won the distinctive, Menu Masters award from Nation’s Restaurant News as one of the nation’s most celebrated innovators. Star Chefs, the magazine for culinary insiders, awarded Chef Burke with the “Contribution to American Cuisine Award” at the 2009 Star Chefs Congress.
Burke trained at the Culinary Institute of America, and soon thereafter, he traveled to France where he spent several stages with notable chefs such asPierre Troisgros, Georges Blanc and Gaston Lenotre. Burke returned to the U.S. as a sous chef for Waldy Malouf at Le Cremaillere and then forCharlie Palmer at River Café where he ascended to Executive Chef and earned three stars from The New York Times. In 1992, Burke opened the Park Avenue Café with Smith & Wollensky CEO Alan Stillman, and then, in 1996, he became Vice President of Culinary Development for the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group.
In 2003, Burke teamed up with Donatella Arpaia to open davidburke & donatella (now known as David Burke Townhouse, of which he has sole ownership). In 2005 came David Burke at Bloomingdale's, a dual-concept restaurant offering both a full service "Burke Bar Café" on one side and a "Burke in the Box" eat-in concept on the other. In 2006 Burke opened up David Burke's Primehouse in The James Hotel Chicago. His restaurant collection continued to grow that same year when he purchased Fromagerie, a fine dining restaurant in Rumson, New Jersey, where his culinary career began under founders Markus and Hubert Peter. His next ventures included David Burke Prime at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut and David Burke Fishtail in Manhattan, both of which opened in 2008. In February 2011, he opened David Burke Kitchen at The James Hotel New York in SoHo, bringing his signature whimsical style to downtown Manhattan.
In 2013, Burke made great strides in expanding his restaurant empire and enhancing his partnerships with other reputable companies. In the summer of 2013, he opened Burke's Bacon Bar in the James Hotel Chicago, a high-end sandwich and "to-go" concept featuring artisan and top-notch bacons from around the country. BBB features Burke's signature "Handwiches" - palm-sized sandwiches packed with creative combinations of fresh ingredients - as well as salads and sweets, all featuring bacon, in some form, as an ingredient.
In 2014, Burke will bring his SoHo concept, David Burke Kitchen, which features modern takes on farmhouse cuisine, to the ski resort town of Aspen, Colorado.
During his tenure at The River Café, Burke began experimenting with interesting ingredients and cooking techniques. His first culinary innovations, including Pastrami Salmon™ (now available through Acme Smoked Fish), flavored oils and tuna tartare, revolutionized gastronomic technique. During his 12-year period at the Park Avenue Café, Burke created GourmetPops™, ready-to-serve cheesecake lollipops. His Can o' Cake concept, where cake is mixed, baked and eaten from a portable tin, is used throughout his restaurants. Most recently, he teamed with 12NtM to create two non-alcoholic sparkling beverages, available in gourmet retailers such as Whole Foods and at his New York locations. Additionally, Burke is actively involved with culinology, an approach to food that blends the culinary arts and food technology. To that end, he is the chief culinary adviser to the Skinny Eats line of flavor-enhancing products.
In 2011, Burke received the ultimate honor presented to inventors: a United States patent. It was awarded to him for the unique process by which he uses pink Himalayan salt to dry-age his steaks. Burke lines the walls of his dry-aging room with bricks of the salt, which imparts a subtle flavor to the beef and renders it incredibly tender. Burke's steaks can be dry-aged for anywhere from 28 to 55, 75, or even as long as 100 days using this process.
Burke supports numerous charities and community groups including the American Cancer Society, City Harvest, City Meals on Wheels, March of Dimes, the Charles Lafitte Foundation and the Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, based in his native state of New Jersey. He has also served as a board member of Share our Strength and is currently on the board of Table to Table, a food rescue program in northern New Jersey.
Cooking with David Burke was published in 1995, and Burke’s second cookbook, David Burke’s New American Classics by Alfred A. Knopf, launched in April 2006.