Saturday, April 17, 2010

Interview with Dave Martin by NYC Menu Girl

I love to talk to all of you about restaurants, deals, the wonders of New York City, and bread baskets, of course. I think it is time that we go behind the scenes a little and into the lives of those that bring us the delicious food, ambiance, and experience that we desire. Therefore, I have started interviewing Chefs and will feature these interviews on my blog.

I could think of no better Chef to start with than one of my personal favorites – Chef Dave Martin. You may know him from Vynl, or Crave on 42nd, or, most likely, you know him as the 2nd runner up of Top Chef Season 1. Well, it was four years ago that he debuted on national television as one of the first chefs vying to win the Top Chef title, and Chef Martin has done a lot for this great food and restaurant industry that you should all know about.

Dave Martin says he is “a different breed.” His passion is not being in the restaurant – but rather, he has an entrepreneurial spirit and dives into several different projects. He has started a few restaurants, worked to build his brand, become a teacher, and a charitable chef. As Dave says “In every situation I am making the food. It is all me.” He is fun, extremely dynamic, and indeed, cooks delicious foods! He shows us that there are truly several different opportunities in food.

Dave Martin turned Terra Vento into Crave on 42nd, which served Dave’s infamous mac n’ cheese and other upscale twists on comfort foods. When the restaurant closed, Dave helped Vynl restaurant, which has a location Chelsea and in Hell’s Kitchen, revamp its menu. I have been three times – and the menu is amazing!

Dave says that he enjoys getting a restaurant up and running. As a Chef building his brand, he runs his own business. He is always thinking about the restaurant from the business perspective. He knows that the focus is on the customer and getting in touch with what they want.

Dave Martin does charity work with Ronald McDonald. He holds special events and auction dinners. He really enjoys working with kids!

On the subject of kids, Dave has a healthy line of foods for kids coming out soon. Dave says “Kids are the future and it is very important what they are putting in their bodies.”

Chef Dave Martin teaches at the culinary loft, a course called “American Regional Cuisine.” Sounds delicious! He also teaches at the French Culinary Institute. You may be thinking that this is for the most advanced people in aprons and chef hats. But Chef Dave Martins says “people off the street can come take some cool classes to me.”

Chef Dave Martin just published a cookbook called Flavor Quest in which he shares kitchen secrets and empowers ALL people to cook! And if you enjoy this book, look out for Volume 2, coming out sometime in the Fall.

New York
As the NYC Menu Girl, I wanted to know why Chef Dave martin was in New York! Chef Dave says: “I love NY. I am very happy to be here after being in Southern California my whole life.” And what he loves most about NYC is the Pizza! Dave likes simple food, and pizza is just that. He enjoys Motorino, which I can’t wait to try myself! He also enjoys Roberta’s down in Brooklyn. And of course, he loves Mario Batali’s Otto. It is a great place to hang out, and they have a good price point. He also recommends Metrazur in Grand Central. They have a $25 prix-fixe lunch that he urged me to try.

Top Chef
Well, he was on Top Chef, so I had to learn a little bit about that. Chef Dave Martin says “it was definitely a great opportunity. It was really the formulation of a successful brand.” I asked him what misconceptions viewers had, and he said that if we think someone is a jerk, they probably are! You see so little of their personality, which may mean it could be worse if you saw the whole personality. But, Chef Dave Martin also says that the show puts you in a vulnerable position, and so you may have seen Chef Martin cry in the kitchen, but he assures us that he has never cried in a professional kitchen before.

Last Words
Dave Martin says: “For me it has always been getting my food out to the people. Not everyone is going to get you, but if enough people get you, that is all that matters. I am not doing this to compete with others. I am doing my own thing. Upscale comfort – that is my niche. I am known for that. That is a good thing in a wealthy market and poor market. I want to get my food out there. You can get the book, if you live in Sweden, or Africa, you can get the book. It is cool to have that out there, since I don’t have a restaurant. It is a different way of getting my food out there. I thought the restaurant was the only way. It is about sharing. Inspiring people who never cook, or kids who do not know how to cook. I like the teaching aspect . . . Even if they learn something like using kosher salt and pepper, if they can get just one little idea of how to put flavors together, a little bit of wine information, if I can pass some information, that means a lot to me. I love that"

There you have it. Chef Dave Martin was a true delight to speak with, since he is so passionate about food and about getting his food out to the world. I urge you to check out his website,, or follow him on twitter, The people who bring us delicious food are doing all sorts of things, and I hope to share that with all of you through these interviews!

Have a delicious day!
NYC Menu Girl

1 comment:

David Dust said...

I had no idea Dave Martin was involved in Vynl restaurant. The Hell's Kitchen branch is only one block away from me, so I pass it every day but I've never actually eaten there. Maybe I'll have to give it a try.

Great post!