David Burke Dishes on David Burke Kitchen Aspen
“I enjoy Aspen so much; I’ve been coming here for the past 20 years. The tourism is great, the locals are well traveled - and they like food and wine.” So says celebrity chef-restaurateur David Burke of the decision to open his first restaurant west of Chicago by late March. Modeled on its farm-to-fork namesake in New York’s Soho, David Burke Kitchen Aspen will combine urban cool and mountain warmth, signature and local elements. We asked Burke and his chef Matthew O’Neill how the details are all coming together.
Zagat: Tell us about the menu-development process.
David Burke: I’m driving O’Neill crazy [laughs]. The concept is the same as DBK New York, but obviously ingredients change; we can’t get lobsters like we do on the East Coast, and we can’t get lamb, bison or trout there like we do here. I told him when I hired him, “Look, we’re going to keep writing and writing this menu until it’s perfect. Like writing a song, we’ll throw a lot of paper out.” But in the end it’ll be a combination of shareable appetizers, signature dishes and entrees for two - a nice blend of what’s light and female-friendly but also lusty and gutsy.
Matthew O’Neill: We’ve been working on it for four months now; I’ve never worked on a menu for that long before. But you’ve got to challenge yourself, and David challenges me. Every time I make a dish, he asks me, “Is that the best you can do?” Not in a derogatory way, but it’s meant to make me think. Sometimes I say, “Yeah, I think it’s great!” Other times it leads to whole new ideas.