Chef David Grossman of Branch Water Tavern

Chef David Grossman of Branch Water Tavern
March 2011
Life’s touchstone moments happen unexpectedly. For Chef David Grossman, who spent his childhood cooking with his mother and grandmother, the moment came when a copy of Auguste Escoffier’s Le Guide Culinaire fell into his hands. Immediately impressed with this encyclopedia of French cuisine, a young Grossman began to cook his way through the book.

Enraptured, Grossman sought further knowledge, enrolling at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Graduating at the top of his class, Grossman signed on to work with Alfred Portale at Gotham Bar and Grill in Manhattan. There he learned the art of unwavering consistency, preparing more than 400 dinners a night in Portale’s intricate style. Next, at Oceana, Grossman sharpened his seafood skills while working under Chef Cornelius Gallagher, learning the importance of meticulous attention to detail, as well as how to prepare and cook anything and everything that lives in the ocean.

Following his post at Oceana, Grossman worked at Chef John Delucie’s Waverly Inn. Grossman’s time in New York gave him immeasurable experience, which he poured into the Houston kitchens at Reef and Gravitas. His latest efforts as chef-owner of Branch Water Tavern reflect Grossman’s work in top kitchens, and his menu showcases honest, American fare crafted with an exacting hand and a wink to his fine-dining roots.

Interview with Chef David Grossman

Kathleen Culliton: What advice would you give to young chefs just getting started?
David Grossman: Work hard; only hard work will get you respect and success

KC: Do you recommend culinary school to aspiring cooks?
DG: Culinary school was eye opening to me, and I learned an enormous amount from my chef instructors at [The Culinary Institute of America], but it is no substitute for real world experience.

KC: What is your philosophy on food and dining?
DG: At Branch Water Tavern we seek to create an environment of outstanding service, and genuine yet innovative cuisine.

KC: What goes into creating a dish?
DG: Many different concepts must be considered when creating a dish: seasonality of ingredients, customer preferences, concept of the restaurant, cost effectiveness, execution in large volume, and most important, taste.

KC: What is the biggest challenge facing your restaurant?
DG: Every day is a challenge.

KC: What’s the toughest thing you’ve had to do in your job?
DG: Firing people.

KC: If you had one thing you could do over again, what would it be?
DG: I would have spent more time cooking in New York.

KC: What are some of your favorite food industry charities? Why?
DG: Nationally, Share Our Strength. Locally, Recipe for Success. Both fight and prevent childhood hunger and malnutrition.

KC: What’s your proudest accomplishment in your career to date?
DG: Opening Branch Water Tavern.

KC: What does success mean for you?
DG: Serving food and drink that I am proud of—profitably—to happy, repeat customers.

KC: Where do you see yourself in five years?
DG: Having multiple restaurant concepts in multiple cities.

KC: If you weren’t a chef, what do you think you’d be doing?
DG: I have always been interested in architecture.

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