Fueled by passion, grit and a knack for artful innovation, David Burke is one of the best known and most respected chefs in modern American cuisine with his signature whimsical, boundlessly creative approach to food. In addition to being an internationally celebrated chef, Burke is: a restaurateur; artist; philanthropist; businessperson; author; educator; art collector; puppeteer; minister; doctor of business administration, honoris causa; and beekeeper. David Burke Hospitality Management (DBHM) owns, manages, licenses, and consults with restaurants, hotels, clubs, and schools worldwide. Currently, Burke and his DBHM team operate or orchestrate the culinary component of 18 restaurants, a historic event venue and a bakery. They also oversee a growing roster of David Burke branded products, including cookware, bakeware, steak sauce, cutlery, and wine.
Known for his industry insight, culinary accomplishments, business acumen and candid observations, Burke is often a leading contributor to major news sources, such as ABC TV, Forbes, Fox TV, Bloomberg and more. He is also frequently called upon to play the role of event honoree, speaker, and judge.
At just 26, Burke’s kitchen mastery won him the executive chef position of New York City’s legendary River Café, where he earned a prestigious three-star review from The New York Times. While at River Café, he became the first (and remains the only) American to win the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France Diplome d’Honneur, cementing his status as a leading chef on the global culinary stage. He subsequently won Japan’s Nippon Award for Excellence, and the Robert Mondavi Award of Excellence, all of which earned him a place in James Beard’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. Burke has been nominated twice for James Beard’s Best Chef and became a familiar face on the popular TV show “Top Chef.“
After opening several restaurants with the founder of the iconic Smith & Wollensky steakhouse brand and, having established a remarkable reputation, Burke set his sights on growing his brand. The first building block was the highly regarded David Burke & Donatella, which debuted in 2003. He went on to form a hospitality company that owned and operated numerous award-winning restaurants around the country. It was during this period that Burke gained US patents for several innovations, including his famous Himalayan salt dry aging process for beef.
In the early 1990s, Burke founded DB Global and later, in 2015, DBHM to further expand his footprint and to showcase what had become the culinary, decorative, and operational hallmarks of the David Burke brand.
The early 2020 advent of the Covid-19 pandemic threatened that expansion; however, Burke continued to push forward. He created the #Feed the Heroes program, which prepared and delivered more than 100,000 meals to frontline workers and charities.
Sheer boredom during the months-long lockdown spurred his hugely popular and hilarious cooking demos “LeftobyDB,” with Lefto, a puppet bearing an uncanny resemblance to Burke with unruly gray hair, large-framed glasses, and chef’s coat. In addition, Burke launched a virtual online cooking demo program, CookinDB IGTV, and employee incentive initiatives tailor-made for Fortune 500 companies like Verizon.
And, rather than retrenching, he opened eight new Burke-branded restaurants in North Carolina, Saudi Arabia, and his home state of New Jersey, where he now has seven restaurant operations and a bakery. Burke’s April 2022 purchase of 89-year-old Dixie Lee Bakery saved it from closure.
In New Jersey, he also established the David Burke Scholarship at Brookdale Community College for which his annual donation of $10,000 pays the tuition for two students every year – one a culinary arts major, the other majoring in hospitality management.
With the pandemic in the rear-view mirror, he is focusing on building a national presence for what is now Dixie Lee Bakery by David Burke and establishing Red Horse by David Burke as a burgeoning steakhouse brand. To those ends, Dixie Lee’s products will soon be sold on Goldbelly and Amazon; South Lawn, NJ’s popular Fox & Falcon became Fox & Falcon by David Burke in Feb. 2023; and, a month later. The second Red Horse by David Burke debuted in White Plains, NY. March 2023 also saw the inauguration of Burke’s partnership with Rhode Island’s Preserve Sporting Club & Residences, where he has taken over the luxury resort’s culinary operations, The centerpiece being the sprawling main restaurant, now Double Barrel Steak by David Burke and open to the public for the first time.
In April 2023, Burke took on Cornelius, NC’ s Port City Club as his first lakeside establishment and the 18th in his current restaurant portfolio.