Celebrity Chef David Burke Opening New Restaurant, Rooftop Bar at Le Méridien
SkyBar by David Burke opens August 7; RedSalt by David Burke later this summer
David Burke is the internationally renowned chef and founder of the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse brand. He’s known for his Himalayan salt aging process for beef—and his reputation as a culinary prankster. You might recognize him from his two seasons on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters and his appearances on the Today Show. He’s also the author of Cooking With David Burke and David Burke’s New American Classics. Now the two-time James Beard nominee is coming to Charlotte to open RedSalt by David Burke inside uptown’s Le Méridien Hotel and SkyBar on the hotel’s rooftop. We caught up with the feisty New Jersey native to get the scoop on his expansion to the Queen City and chat about some of his tales from the kitchen, in the style of our ongoing “On the Line” series. (See our most recent entry here.)
Congrats on your new venture in Charlotte! How would you describe this restaurant to someone unfamiliar? When you walk into Red Salt there’s a sense of adventure, art, and personality. It’s high-energy modern American. You’ll experience some of my signature dishes alongside the unique southern flair of our executive chef Jeffrey Russell.
Tell me about your dry-aged meats. After owning my own bull in Kentucky in 2010 and experimenting with the best beef in America, we were fortunate enough to get a U.S. patent for my meat aging process that uses a Himalayan pink salt room, which was all done in Chicago at David Burke Primehouse (ranked one of the best steakhouses in America).
What’s one ingredient you always have on hand? Eggs.
What’s one ingredient you won’t touch? Fiddlehead ferns. And tripe.
What would you say is an under-appreciated flavor? Bitterness, fermented flavors, and ripe fruit, especially this time of year.
What shoes do you wear in the kitchen? Clogs.
What’s one dish you nail every single time? Angry lobster.
What’s your favorite restaurant, other than your own? The River Café in Brooklyn.
What’s your favorite adult beverage? Red Burgundy.
What would be your last meal? It’ll probably take four days to eat. Scrambled eggs with lobster and caviar. Tuna belly sashimi with red salt and sea urchin. Black linguini with calamari and chili oil. Dover sole. Warm oysters with succotash and summer corn. And then I might break into a little halibut T-bone with black truffle home fries and quail eggs and a 55-day dry aged ribeye with rosemary oil and creamed spinach with pickled peaches. Of course I’ll have five desserts—exotic desserts, ending with cheesecake lollipops. And a Breckenridge bourbon milkshake! Plus cotton candy to go. And some macaroons for bribery at the pearly gates.
What’s been your biggest kitchen fail? Making 50 chocolate soufflés for a Colorado event. They became chocolate pudding.
How did you come by your reputation as a culinary prankster? It’s the way I look at food. I design food with a sense of humor. I’m the kind of guy that takes the road less traveled everyday. (I’m) a part time puppeteer if you haven’t noticed. Meet Lefto, my puppet: https://leftobydb.com/ and follow him on instagram at @chefdavidfburke.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure? Candy bars. Butterfinger. Kit Kat. Reese’s. M&Ms. And coffee. Lots of coffee.
What’s your favorite part of your job? That I don’t have a job. I’m in culinary heaven.
Now, the tough stuff:
Chocolate or cheese? Cheese.
Beer or wine? Wine.
Cake or pie? Pie.
Ketchup or mustard? Ketchup.
Lobster roll or egg roll? Lobster roll.
Spaghetti and meatballs or spicy noodles? Spicy noodles.
Chicken and Waffles or Chicken and Dumplings? Chicken and Waffles.
Street eats or sit-down? Sit-down.
Dog or cat? Dog.
“Uptown Girl” or “Uptown Funk”? I’ll take the girl!
More money or more time? More time.
Facebook or Instagram? Instagram.