Headed to the East Coast to see the fall foliage? Well, make sure you stop at David’s Restaurant in Portland, Maine. David’s is renowned for fresh seafood, local meat and local vegetables. An inviting atmosphere shows that David’s is full of energy and style. Chef and owner, David Turin’s second restaurant, David’s 388, is a more comfortable and casual neighborhood restaurant. Here, guest can sit at the chef’s counter overlooking the kitchen while enjoying cuisine that is known to cross culinary boundaries. Coming soon in November is the opening of David’s new restaurant, David’s Opus 10. David Turin was awarded Maine’s Chef of the Year in 2012 and continues to exceed the expectations of his guest and their taste buds! Anxious to learn more about his local Maine ingredients I spoke to Chef Turin to get the latest buzz.
AH: Are you making any changes to the menu as we are in the fall season?
CD: The biggest change we are doing is opening a new restaurant, which is inside the current David’s Restaurant. This is a completely new concept. There are special wine courses. Back in June, I said I would open a restaurant, and now on November 15th David’s Opus 10 will open. There will be seven courses during week and nine courses on Friday and Saturday with wine pairings. The dishes will be really seasonal. I expect the menu to change every week. Just talking about David’s, there is a farmers market right outside the door which keeps us in touch with the seasons. We have about five to ten specials every night, which represent what is going on at the farmers market.
AH: What is your favorite dish that you are offering on the menu?
CD: Such a hard question. It is honestly in all the interviews my least favorite question because I like everything. Today for example we have a cauliflower cheddar soup, which is my favorite thing today, but tomorrow it will change. Tomorrow we have a gorgeous snapper that we will be using while working with red wine.
AH: What is your inspiration for your dishes?
CD: Well, probably two areas heavily influence my inspiration. My first restaurant was a French restaurant that I owned for five and a half years. I cooked in France around the age of twenty five, where I picked up on a lot of their techniques. I also spent two months in Japan; it is here where I liked the Asian influence and cultural ideas. My two chef role models had a large focus on the execution on things rather than just the creative aspect. I would really rather have something that is simpler but the execution is unique.
AH: When did you first decide that you wanted to become a chef?
CD: This is embarrassing; I knew when I was 12. My dad was a rocket scientist, I’m not joking, and my mother was a college mathematics professor. My parents naturally wanted me to study science and math, but I went in a different direction. I liked to cook at home; I made a lot of breakfasts with dad and dinners with mom. Those were the happiest times for me.
AH: Are you able to source any of your ingredients locally or work with a regional farm?
CD: All the time, with the exception of our farmers market, we tend to use conglomerate buyers with Farm Fresh Connection, Sunset Acres, and we buy sometimes from Micro Greens. One farmer cannot produce all the things that we need. They may just be a berry famer or vegetable farmer or rancher in which they all produce different things. We buy from a woman who represents thirty different farms, all local, organic and sustainable.
AH: What are some of the differences between your new fine dining restaurant and your existing restaurant?
CD: It’s a whole different place. David’s is a menu that has a broad appeal with different choices; 25 entrées, pizza, pasta, appetizers, and more. There is a focus on being value conscience as a business model and being very smart with lots of our customers. We want people coming in with the meal as the main focus of their weekend. David’s Opus 10 gives me the luxury of knowing exactly how much you’re going to eat; seven courses. The meal flows through the courses like a symphony. I’m hoping I developed a good clientele. You have to trust me with your taste buds because you just order and not pick or choose. It’s going to be pretty fancy rather than causal. You’re going to want to dress up and plan on spending about three hours here, it’s an event!
AH: What makes your restaurant unique?
CD: We have long focused on serving real, authentic, homemade, great food with a real focus on value. We are in the upper third in category, not the fanciest, but toward the top but only half up price. We never buy a loaf of bread; we make our own bread from scratch. It is a smart business decision in which we waste no product, except the bones of chicken, of course. A technique in French cooking that I picked up on is not to waste anything. When I was younger in cooking you had to use what is left, even in the waste basket. We have that design on our menu, freshly prepared authentic food, nothing frozen or premade.