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INTERVIEW: Chef David Burke On Honest Plate, Sustainability, #CookinDB, #FeedtheHeroes And More

Nicole Barylski

Chef David Burke and Lefto in action. (Courtesy Photo)

Internationally acclaimed Chef David Burke's latest endeavor focuses on plant-forward dishes - that will be available right here in the Hamptons. Chef Burke has partnered with Honest Plate to create flavorful meals exclusively for the Hamptons-based clean eating, plant forward and Whole30 diet oriented prepared meal service.

We recently caught up with Chef Burke about the partnership, #CookinDB, #FeedtheHeroes and more.

Tell us a little bit about the David Burke for Honest Plate partnership.

DB: It's a new initiative that means I'll be creating 100 percent organic plant-forward dishes for Honest Plate, using as much product as we can that is grown in Honest Plate's own greenhouses at their Calverton, NY campus. And, of course, we'll take advantage of the agricultural bounty of the East End. The David Burke for Honest Plate meals will offer a premium culinary experience for Honest Plate clients and will add a new taste profile to the Honest Plate's core menus. The partnership also extends the flexibility of what is already the most adaptable meal service - prepared or kit - I have come across. There is no long-term commitment, a family of four can dine on four completely different meals to address their individual preferences or dietary restrictions and clients can drop- in-and-out of the program at will. Now with David Burke for Honest Plate, clients can mix-and-match the dishes I create exclusively for Honest Plate with those of the company's core menu.

For me, the partnership is an exciting opportunity to explore all the creativity that can go into plant-based food. Traditionally, I've worked with animal proteins first and then with plants second. With Honest Plate, it's often going to be the other way around. Which I think is ultimately the wave of the future for environmental and health reasons.

Since the debut of the Honest Plate partnership, there has already been an offshoot - David Burke for Honest Plate Catering. Could you tell us about that too?

DB: We had tossed around the thought of adding catering into the mix, but were focused on Honest Plate's core prepared meal service for individuals and families. Then my vice president of events got a call from someone asking about catering for a garden party in the Hamptons. Over the years we've done the food for a number of events on the East End, in the old normal. In this new one, we had to pause and think about how to do it, because it was the first query we've had for more than very small gatherings since the pandemic started. This event was for 60. Of course, now when someone says Hamptons to me, I think Honest Plate and there it was the solution - use the Honest Plate model of presenting individual portions of the food in their custom glass containers for the event. So I called Ashley Heather, the owner or Honest Plate and suggested we partner on this event with menu options that would include some of my signatures, items from the David Burke for Honest Plate roster and a couple by Honest Plate's terrific chefs. The client loved the fun mash-up of menu choices and the idea of a la Honest Plate service style. We knew we were onto something and decided it was a natural to extend the partnership to include offering catering ongoing.

How does locality play into planning each dish?

DB: As referenced in the first question, we'll be focused on locally sourced ingredients. The available quantity of any specific product that is a main ingredient effects the design of the dish and how long it can be offered on the Honest Plate menu. The key is using the ingredients in unique creative ways, since when they come into season the local markets are flooded with the same products. So chefs are all taking advantage of the same products at the same time.  

Chef Burke and Honest Plate Founder Ashley Heather. (Courtesy Photo)


Why was Honest Plate's planet-aware approach something that resonated with you?

DB: Sustainability is important to me; we are always exploring ways raise the "green" bar at my restaurants. We do a lot of repurposing of what would conventionally be considered scraps to reduce our food waste. And we look into using non-traditional, environmentally viable ingredients, like insects, the most sustainable of animal proteins! So of course, Honest Plate's' commitment to a planet-aware approach for their service resonated with me. Actually, I don't think I'd be interested in a venture such as this unless that were the approach!

What will upcoming David Burke for Honest Plate menus feature?

DB: Our first round, which will be available by July 1, includes: Moroccan Spiced Chicken Lettuce Cups and Roasted Organic Chicken with tomato couscous, olives, preserved lemon and a mint, parsley, basil salad. Then there's a vegetarian riff on my signature Clothesline Bacon, where we replace the pork with grilled zucchini glistening in the same maple and black pepper glaze we use for the bacon. It takes healthy grilled zucchini from "meh" to "damned fabulous!" People can find out more about what's coming up and my approach to the food for Honest Plate at www.honestplate.com/davidburke.

You've been providing cooking inspiration throughout the quarantine with your #CookinDB Instagram series. Will the kitchen lessons continue and if so, what meals will you be highlighting?

DB: Yes, absolutely we're going to continue the series - it's a great way to engage with the public in a meaningful way. We'll be focusing more on technique, sustainability and the utilization of product by showing the home cook how to incorporate things normally thrown away into delicious dishes; things like vegetable trimmings, shrimp shells, over ripe fruit, wilted lettuce, etc.

We'll also do some videos with my left hand man - literally! That's Lefto - my hand puppet, quarantine buddy and sometimes sous chef. We'll teach how to shop and what to do with leftovers so they're as good (maybe better!) than when they were originally served. Lefto and I are also thinking about some kids programming and having guests on the show. Could be anyone from an Italian grandma to dim sum master... or a single woman looking to learn from two dummies! 

You launched Feed the Heroes in response to the pandemic. Could you please speak about your efforts?

DB: Thanks for asking about #FeedtheHeroes. I'm very proud of that. The initiative helped us achieve two crucially important things - providing tasty, freshly prepared food to those fighting the pandemic on the frontlines, the health care workers and first responders in NJ and the New York City metro area, while enabling us to rehire some of our team after the state mandated closures of all our restaurants. Talk about a win-win! People were very generous in donating to #FeetheHeros and we fed thousands at hospitals, police and fire stations.

For more information about Honest Plate, visit www.honestplate.com. For more information about Chef Burke, visit chefdavidburke.com.


Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski




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