San Antonio might not be labeled as one of the foodie, high class dining towns of the nation, so it might surprise you to know that in San Antonio resides award winning Chef and Author, David Gilbert.
I first met David at Neiman Marcus for this past fashions night out, where he was representing Sustenio, the restaurant where he is Executive Chef. You couldn’t help but be drawn to his table; it was like a science lab. Plumes of…smoke…steam…fog…(what’s the right term here?) were wafting up from his liquid nitrogen coconut clouds as he was showing off his molecular gastronomy skills. These little bites of seemingly frozen meringue, literally melted in your mouth while coating it with the taste of coconut.
Since then, I’ve been hooked, I’ve wondered, what else can he do, what else has he done? So I’ve gone straight to the source to bring you a peek into his book and a peek into the man.
A 35 year old Dallas native, Gilbert was launched into the public eye in 2007 as he was bestowed with the national 2007 Rising Star Chef award from Starchefs.com. Gilbert then decided to take a year away from the stove in 2009 to seek out new ingredients and techniques from around the globe. His travels took him through South East Asia, Southern Africa, and Europe. That started the cultural following of his website, beyond the kitchen.
You’re the winner of the 2007 Rising Star Chef award, tell us about that experience.
“Winning the 2007 Rising Star Chef Award launched my career from local media attention to national. It was the first time my name and food “on the map.” This provided me the platform to be in the national spotlight and it just reassured me; that all the hard work-does pay off! Receiving this culinary “Oscar”-of sorts-made my family so proud after all those years of long hours, little pay, while climbing through the culinary ranks.—it was/is now my time to shine.”
In 2010 Gilbert was hand selected to be the Executive Chef to represent United States on a global platform at the World Expo in Shanghai, China. There he showcased the movement in what he calls Modern American Cuisine.
What was it like to represent the United States as the Executive Chef in 2010 at the World Expo in Shanghai, China?
“There was or is no other experience like it! The opportunity to represent your country carries a deep emotional meaning. I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything! The relationships I built with the graceful local Chinese chefs, was invaluable. They took me around their city with warming hospitality. From sipping countless cops of long jing tea with the coveted Shanghai Tea Boss to standing in the world’s tallest observation deck inside the Shanghai World Financial Center.”
About the book: Kitchen Vagabond chronicles chef David Gilbert’s remarkable journey from making scrambled eggs in his parents‘ kitchen, to breaking through the shells of some of the world’s most demanding and cutthroat hotels and restaurants.
What is the history behind your book?
“The idea for this book came as a response to the question, “What’s your favorite dish?” All over the world, people select foods, they cook and they eat. We all receive an early education in these processes, based mainly on where we live and on our national history and culture. I didn’t imagine until well into my teens that I would embark on a career that would direct my restlessness towards what other people cook and eat, how they do it, and what it tastes like. I didn’t imagine that it would take me to Charleston, to Havana, or to Amsterdam, Beverley Hills and Bangkok. I would set out to master as many of these as I could, and incorporate them into my own versions of what and how to cook. This life- long journey gets instantly summarized with that one, impossible question: what’s your favorite dish?”
What is your favorite food?
“There is not one “favorite” food or cuisine. However, in recent years I have spent extensive time in Asia and have found the beauty in their philosophy (of simplicity) and the importance of balance and harmony in each countries cuisine. With that said-My favorite dish is Green Papaya Salad, which I share the deeper meaning in my book Kitchen Vagabond.”
Do you have a favorite restaurant you would recommend in San Antonio?
“I am a recent transplant to San Antonio, Texas—this culture rich city has more to offer once you dig beyond the cliché taco joints serving up “puffy tacos.” I like to seek out the undiscovered or less traveled paths when in search of a city’s “best” or “favorite” restaurant/s. My latest restaurant addiction has become a small family run restaurant called- Pho Hong Phat (Vietnamese)—I am often the only Caucasian in this (off) neighborhood gem!”
Dedicated, passionate, focused, well traveled and the man can cook! Have I stumbled upon one of those rare most eligible San Antonio bachelors?
I’m leaving it to you to find out ladies! Pick up his book, available now, in an ebook, paperback or hardcover. Then take it with you to catch David scheming up new creations at Sustenio inside the hotel Eilan, and I just bet he’ll sign it for you. That’ll get the conversation started.
Tell him I sent you!