Every other month, this series spotlights a stochastically chosen staff member.
Lots of places. Growing up, Dave moved with his family from New Jersey to Pittsburgh, to Charlotte, and back to Pittsburgh again. "I think that's where I got my wanderlust."
Career path not taken:
Radio broadcasting. At Mars Hill College near Asheville, North Carolina, Dave became an on-air personality at the college radio station. "It was the late '70s, and I thought working in the radio business would be just like WKRP in Cincinnati. But when I got to the Carolina School of Broadcasting, they told us right away that radio was a dog-eat-dog business. It didn't take long to figure out that wasn't what I wanted to do. But by then I'd started cooking."
How do you get to culinary school?
Practice, practice, practice. "My first job in the food business was a summer job in Pittsburgh, washing dishes. Then I did McDonald's and a couple of the other fast-food joints for a while, and got a taste of the corporate end of the business. I didn't really care for that style of cooking; it's very regimented--every little thing.
Most dangerous course:
"Right across the street from broadcasting school, they were opening a new restaurant called La Paz [no connection to the local restaurant with the same name]. So I walked across the street and went in for a job and worked for them for about eight years. I started as third cook: appetizers and desserts." Dave worked his way up to kitchen manager for the La Paz in Knoxville, but his wanderlust took him on to corporate headquarters in Atlanta. There he helped open and manage a fast-food spin-off called Al Zap's (La Paz spelled backwards).
"After eight years of rolling burritos, I figured there had to be something else." So Dave enrolled in the two-year program at Johnson and Wales culinary school in Charleston, South Carolina.
"One of our classes was called 'Sauce and Skills.' Of course, we dubbed it 'Sauce That Kills.' They were knife skills--slicing and dicing, and the proper way to hold a knife so you don't cut off your fingers."
Most enthusiastic pasta eaters in Boulder:
Dave served a co-op apprenticeship at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in downtown Atlanta. He was hired right out of school to work at the Amelia Island Plantation resort in Florida in several capacities, including kitchen manager. Feeding "a couple of thousand people a day" at events like the DuPont Tennis Tournament presented challenges. "We'd have a big prep table, about 11 feet long, and 10 or 12 of us standing around the table with this huge pile of shrimp--50 pounds at a time. We'd stand around peeling shrimp till our backs ached."
Dave came out to Boulder to visit friends in the spring of 1991 and got a job at Pasta Jay's. The restaurant was supplying the pasta at the CU training table for the football, basketball, and swim teams, "so they could load up on 'carbos' before their games. I wanted to get out of the cramped kitchen--this was at the old Pasta Jay's on Pearl Street--so I jumped at the chance to go cook for the teams. Those swimmers may look trim, but they can really pack it in."
Largest group fed:
"I actually did a couple of Promise Keepers feedings. It was a real learning experience to help organize and coordinate feeding 50,000 people."
Favorite "9 to 5" job:
Working 6:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Foothills Lab cafeteria. Dave started at NCAR on 15 May 1992, "the day before the EAC [Spring Fling] party, which was a great introduction to NCAR.
Best subsidized restaurant with a view:
"After having worked for so many years, cooking until 10 or 11 p.m. on weekends, then cleaning the kitchen and winding down at the bar until 2 in the morning, I don't miss that lifestyle at all. I like that weekends are my own. And I like being able to get off of work when there's plenty of sunlight left.
"The cooking's not as challenging as I would like it to be. The biggest challenge is having three popular menu items and trying to judge which will sell the best without running out. But the people I work with--the food service staff--are great. And I enjoy the people I work for--everybody that comes in and buys lunch. It's nice to see people come in every day, even if the conversations are pretty brief. It's a very friendly group of people."
"A fellow Johnson and Wales alum recently told me that his parents go up to the Mesa Lab occasionally to have lunch. And he said, 'NCAR's the only government facility where there's actually a line waiting to get into the cafeteria.' If we've got a reputation of having really good food, then that's something I like a lot. I like hearing the complaints, because otherwise I can't improve. But I really love hearing the compliments."
Other fans of the FL cafeteria:
Fozi and Patty, the two bears living at the animal refuge near Hudson run by Shelley Richards-Craig and Pat Craig (both staff at UCAR; see the
issue of Staff Notes Montly for a story on the refuge). "Fozi and Patty just woke up from hibernation. So instead of putting food scraps into the compost bin, we send a barrel of bear food home with Shelley. There are some things the bears won't eat, though: onion peels, pineapple rind, and raw broccoli. Cooked broccoli's okay."
He'd rather be . . .
Cooking or on the trail. "In my time off, I used to do a lot of catering, through NCAR and a company called Culinary Hearts. But eventually I just didn't want to be in the kitchen all the time, as much as I love cooking. I like going hiking and biking--it's one thing I really love about this area. Being able to get out into nature." Favorite local hikes are Mt. Sanitas and the Mesa Trail from NCAR to Chautauqua Park.
Where a chef dines out:
"The old Rio Grande, before they moved. Recently I've been to the Greenbriar, which was really nice. I like the Mediterranean a lot, and just went to Mataam Fez the other night."
Anything with horns in it. Dave likes a lot of styles: jazz, rock and roll, and "old standards like Sinatra. I've been a Beatlemaniac since age three. I could pick out Abbey Road as my favorite, because it's a great album, but I like them all for varying reasons." Favorite song: "In My Life."
Home team he roots for:
"I'm from a lot of places, so I have a lot of home teams. It was tough for me when Pittsburgh and Denver were in the playoffs for the Super Bowl [this past year]. But since I had two teams going in, I was going to be a winner, no matter what."
Philosophy of life:
"Don't worry, be happy. It sounds trite, but just live and let live and be happy about it."
"I'm 39, single, and looking." (Plus he still loves to cook at home--mostly Chinese cuisine these days.)
Prepared for the Web by Jacque Marshall