November 5, 2014
Coming to Gulf Shores with a reputation to protect, “The King of American Seafood” (as crowned by a panel of national judges last year in Louisiana), Chef David Crews is looking to sweep “at least one category” at the Cook-Off. We spoke to Crews about his rise from kitchen cleanup to “King” from his home in Mississippi, where he works as a private chef for a handful of loyal clients.
When did you know you loved to cook?
I started out washing dishes in high school just to get off the family farm. By the time I enrolled in college I was a kitchen manager and I realized pretty quickly that the banking classes I was taking in school were not how I wanted to spend my days. I loved being able to create and move around the kitchen. The funny thing is I had been helping my mother and grandmother in the kitchen since I was a young kid.
So, you were a natural.
I’m passionate. It’s the one quality that I think sets a really good chef apart. You can tell by one plate of food if someone produced it with passion, really saw that dish through from start to finish and thought about all the parts of the process.
Are you able to be as creative as a personal chef as you would be in a bigger kitchen, somewhere with more items to work with?
Absolutely. I will fly to a different part of the country with one of my (client) families and we won’t take a thing. We’ll just go explore and get whatever is fresh in that part of the country when we get there.
Has our cultural obsession with celebrity chefs made your job as a food enthusiast more exciting?
Yes, in some ways, of course! I mean winning in a tough competition is really fun and obviously it’s great to be called the king! But I also hope young and up and coming cooks still consider how rewarding it is to make good food for people who appreciate it. You should cook because you love food and you want to share that love with other people. I’ve done those TV competitions and they make for great television but the best chef does not always win.
Events like the Cook-Off are a reminder of just how much fun it is to gather around great food. What is your never fail advice on preparing food for a group of friends?
I always like to tell people keep it simple. Do one thing that you know how to do well and that you love to eat. I have a lot of awards behind my name but a great hamburger is still one of my favorite meals. Now, I may grind my own meat or add some unusual toppings. But you can experiment with unusual sauces or a unique relish. That’s where you add some excitement without failing the dish.