Pop-Up Chef

David Belkin

CHICAGO

About David Belkin

I, David Belkin am a chef, entrepreneur, and the founder of Rekenekt Cuisine. Growing up in family who's mother is Chinese and Father is Russian Jewish, I was exposed to a vast diversity of food from a young age. In addition to logging hours of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and Iron Chef, it was inevitable I would choose a path in cuisine.While in high school I was competing at the state and national level in culinary competitions that ranged from cook offs to restaurant development, representing Tulsa Technology Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As a Senior in High school I was lucky enough to take an opportunity to work under chef Fritz Gistchner, a certified master chef and Team USA competitor for the Bocuse D'or in 2005. It was at Southern Hills Country Club under chef Fritz that I learned the foundations of classical french cuisine and the brigade system. After my time under chef Fritz I took an opportunity to work and stage the fine dining scene in Kansas City, eventually finding my home at The Rieger Hotel Grill and Exchange run by James Beard nominee Howard Hanna. After my 2 year stint at the Rieger, I decided to backpack Europe for 2 months to study cuisine, meet interesting people, and dine at some of the best restaurants in the world. On my return I took a job I was under-qualified for. I ran the kitchen at Anton's Taproom in Kansas City, regarded as the best steak in Kansas City by The New York Times and the most sustainable restaurant in the city to this day. It was there that I learned the importance of composting, minimizing waste, farmer relations, organic ingredients, whole animal butchery, and aquaponics. The food we were doing wasn't ground breaking, but the philosophy and systems we had in play was unlike anything I ever been apart of. It had a profound effect on the way I cook and see things. It got me reading controversial books like Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan and The Third Plate by Dan Barber. After an eye opening year at Anton's, I was hungry for the high level of fine dining and decided to stage all over the Chicago fine dining scene. It was then I took a position to work at Chef Grant Achatz's acclaimed Next Restaurant under Chef Dave Beran. This was a dream come true to me, as it was a restaurant I dreamed of working at since high school and a chef I looked up to well before I even worked in my first kitchen. Working at Next was extremely eye opening and filled a missing piece in my skill set. But after working and staging at all these high profile restaurants and while working at Next, I became very disappointed about the quality ingredients and the immense amounts of food waste. I noticed that most of the top level restaurants still get produce off the same semi truck as any other chain restaurant, and don't take any approach to not waste food. The relationships with local farmers was very minimal, if there at all. No organic ingredients, no non-gmo ingredients, not even local ingredients, with the exception of micro greens, and garnishes. I found it funny why these places will pay top dollar for the micro greens, but are perfectly fine with conventional produce and meat. The food was innovative and looked nice, but it was not what I pictured a top level restaurant what serve. I couldn't take wasting food anymore, using poor quality ingredients, and cooking out of ego, as opposed to genuine hospitality. As a result I resigned my position at Next to start Rekenekt Cuisine, a company that embodies genuine hospitality, quality ingredients, and excellent customer service.