Chef David Reynoso of The Butcher Shop - Boston Rising Star on

Photo Credit: Becca Bousquet

David Reynoso
The Butcher Shop
552 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 423 4800

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Amy Tarr: Why did you start cooking? What or who inspired you to become a chef?
David Reynoso: I started working in the kitchen in Chicago with Tony Mantuano at Spiaggia, but I didn’t think I was going to be a chef. I was a dishwasher then. Tony inspired me to take a trip to Italy.

AT: Did you attend culinary school? Would you recommend culinary school to aspiring chefs today?
DR: I attended Washburne in Chicago. It was great. It’s a trade school. I paid $2,500. The program was very helpful to learn basics, terminology, butchering, baking. But you definitely learn more when you get into the real world.

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David Reynoso

David Reynoso's career began when he left his family farm outside of Mexico City at the age of 15 and took a job as a dishwasher at the popular Spiaggia restaurant in Chicago. There he quickly moved up to prep work, peeling potatoes and dicing onions. Encouraged by the restaurant's chef, who recognized Reynoso's talent, he embarked on an eighteen month restaurant program at the Washburne Trade School in Chicago while working full-time at the restaurant and taking classes in English and Italian.

After graduating from Washburne in 1990, Reynoso headed to Italy to stage in several restaurants in exchange for room and board. The experience opened the door to a period of intense traveling and learning.

A year later and much more seasoned in his craft, Reynoso made his way back to the United States where he worked in a variety of restaurant positions. He eventually became head chef at the well-known Italian Trattoria Mangia in Kenosha, Wisconsin and then at Tuttaposto Mediterranean Tavern back in Chicago. He also worked for a year in Verden, Germany to assist in opening Pades Restaurant, an intimate Italian eatery with a reputation for its tasty homemade pastries, breads, and pasta.

Returning to the United States, Reynoso began the next phase of his career. Hired as the first head chef of Spoodles at the Walt Disney World Boardwalk Resort in Orlando, Florida, he was involved in all aspects of opening the restaurant and developing the diverse Mediterranean menu.

In 1998, David moved from Florida to Boston to assume the position of chef at the brand new Café Louis which received local, regional, and national accolades under his direction. After a one-year sabbatical in Mexico, Reynoso returned to Boston and became the Chef of Kitchen Operations for Chef Barbara Lynch's two South End Restaurants: The Butcher Shop and B&G Oysters. He currently spends the majority of his time at The Butcher Shop in the kitchen, leading cooking classes, and overseeing the menu and retail development.

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Interview Cont'd
AT: Who are your mentors? What are some of the most important things you’ve learned from them?
DR: I love Alice Waters. I met her once. I love books from Patricia Wells – like the “At Home in Provence” cookbook. I love Tony’s book (The Spiaggia Cookbook)!

AT: What is your philosophy on food and dining?
DR: I like food that has soul, background, tradition. I see food as holding family together, a way to connect to each other. I don’t like things that are too out there. I like more simple, more traditional foods.

AT: Are there any secret ingredients that you especially like?
DR: I like to use cloves. It settles in the back of your mouth. I make a rabbit dish with clove and cinnamon. These ingredients go back to my background– clove, cumin, garlic, onion.

AT: What is your most indispensable kitchen tool?
DR: Rubber spatulas – you’re able to get everything in the pot or bowl. They’re useful for tossing pasta. The metal spoon breaks it. The spatula is more gentle on the pasta.

AT: What is your favorite question to ask during an interview for a potential new line cook?
DR: Do you want to be a star? Are you in this business to be a showman or do you want to cook? I’m interested in someone who’s more about the food, not the show.

AT: What tips would you offer young chefs just getting started?
DR: Be honest in what you do. Work hard. Be humble. You need to be humble and learn from everyone else. That’s what I try to do.

AT: What cities do you like for culinary travel?
DR: Chicago. My brother lives there and has a taqueria place. I like to go to Mexican restaurants there. My favorite is on Milwaukee Ave. It’s run by a kid who used to work for Rick Bayless.

AT: What are your favorite restaurants – off the beaten path – in Boston?
DR: In the North End there’s a place called Pizzeria Ernesto. Their pizza is really good. I like the white pizza with ricotta and broccoli.

AT: What trends do you see emerging in the restaurant industry now?
DR: Lot of food to-go, like what we’re trying to do at The Butcher Shop. People go out, but they also want to do one or two meals with really good food at home.

AT: Where do you see yourself in 5 years-10 years?
DR: I see myself doing something on my own someday.

AT: What range do you cook on?
DR: I cook on four Chefmaster induction burners and a Rationale combi- oven. This place was never meant to be a restaurant. Business has grown a lot in last year.

AT: Tell me about your cooking classes.
DR: I started doing them last spring for neighborhood people. We did them upstairs and closed for the night. We had a Cinco de Mayo theme! Another theme was wild game and wild wine. They are an opportunity for me to introduce myself to our customers.

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   Published: March 2006