Posts tagged “passion beat

passion beat: chef david z. @ boqueria, flatiron

Boqueria's David Z. piles on the charm (photo courtesy Lyana Fernández)

When chef David Z. fell in love with cooking at the age of 10 in his native Veracruz, Mexico, he had to do it in secret – in those days, hanging out in the kitchen wasn’t considered manly.

He went on to open his own restaurant before coming to the US 12 years ago and landing a job at Midtown’s splashy Brasserie 8½. Today, David’s unabashed flare for food is evident at Boqueria, the popular tapas destination in the Flatiron District.  Looking much younger than his 50 years, you can spot him right by the window doing his craft; and if you’re smart, you’ll sit right in front of him at the bar.  That’s where I decided to chat him up in Spanish while I was waiting for my friend Lyana (whom you can hear perusing the menu during the video).

It was Labor Day weekend, and while nearby sidekick Sala One-Nine (a good choice for mid-week lunch specials) looked hungry for customers, Boqueria was buzzing as usual.  And there was David, turning out plate after plate of tortilla Española, manchego, and pan con tomate (his secret touch: a pinch of sugar).  He’s a natural comedian and could easily have his own cooking show – as he told me joke after joke, I noticed these weren’t ordinary tapas.  David is a master plater:  he smears aioli into fluttering fans reminiscent of Seville (“for the summer,” he says) and piles rounds of bread onto cheese boards as if they were miniature monuments.  I was mesmerized.

Above all, David is a passionate man.   He talks about his love for gastronomy as if he were serenading his beloved, and when I ask him about his effortless artistry, he tells me it’s all in the feeling: “Even though you’re doing it for others, you have to do it for yourself first.”

And he’s definitely muy manly.  Check out those Michelangelo-esque hands…