Meet David Koehn, Our Chef de Cuisine

September 2, 2021 | Culinary Experiences, Employee Spotlight, News

With a background firmly rooted in traditional French cuisine and recent experience in refined modern American cuisine, David has strengths in both modernist and traditional preparations.

Although he grew up in the Chicago suburbs, David has traveled around the country honing his talents as a chef. After starting as an apprentice at Beaujolais, in Reno, Nevada from 2011-2012, David went to Napa Valley, California with hopes to work for renowned chef Thomas Keller

 

“I went to Napa Valley with a bicycle, a backpack, some thrift store black pants, and about $50 to my name,” says David. “I slept underneath a bench in the dugout of a park for two days while I completed my stage at Bouchon Bistro! It was such a big deal to me when I got hired.”

 

After working as a Commis Chef and Chef de Partie for Bouchon Bistro, David returned to Beaujolais in 2013 and helped move the concept to a new location. Working his way to the position of Sous-Chef, he continued his tenure at Beaujolais until his return to Chicago in 2015.

In Chicago, David was introduced to modern cuisine at Michelin Star restaurant Acadia, and later worked as the Executive Sous Chef and later the Chef de Cuisine at Longman and Eagle from 2016-2021. He joined The Paramount Group in June of 2021.

 

David’s passion for cooking started at a young age when he would have great joy in preparing meals for friends and family.  “My parents gave me a lot of freedom to get whatever I wanted at the grocery store and experiment when making dinner,” he says. “I just always loved cooking and still love cooking.”

 

Prior to becoming a chef, David attended the University of Nevada and studied Biology, Chemistry, and Molecular Biology. His scientific background heavily influences the way that he cooks. 

“It was better than a culinary degree in a lot of ways because you really understand how heat works, how it transfers, and what processes are involved with cooking. You learn all the science behind cooking just by studying basic science,” he says. 

 

This methodical and scientific approach to cooking has impacted David’s philosophy on cooking as well. 

 

 

“I honestly think that the most impactful dishes pack a lot of punch when it comes to flavor, meaning that they are aggressive to some extent but also they are simple,” says David.

“The less that you have to do to an ingredient, the more impact it has. When it comes to making very good food it comes to sourcing very good ingredients and then all you have to do is get out of the way. Let the ingredients speak for themselves, let the seasons speak for themselves.”

 

“Cooking is a good mix of both science and art,” he says. “But at the end of the day, I consider it more of a craft than an art. It is something you have to learn to do daily.” 

What is your favorite part of the job?

“Cooking! When I can just cook I’m very happy. But I also really like working with the managers of the various departments here. I like working with the other chefs and developing those relationships and pursuing whatever those goals we set for ourselves”

 

What is your favorite type of food to make?

“My favorite type of food to probably make is probably classic bistro food. And I think that I like it because people are so receptive to it. People are thrilled when they get these very iconic dishes like pâtés and even things as simple as onion soup or escargot bourguignon. The classics of bistro cooking. It just brings people so much joy to eat those things. And at the end of the day, that is kind of what it’s all about. Making people happy.”

 

When you are not in the kitchen, what can we find you doing? 

“Even when I’m not in the kitchen, I still enjoy being immersed in the culinary world. I especially enjoy reading cookbooks and BBQ’ing. I also have a pretty extensive and methodically grouped/organized vinyl collection!”

David recently prepared and created a recipe for warm potato salad on Feast and Field.

Check out his article here to create it yourself! 

 

 

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