David Burke trained at the Culinary Institute of America, and soon thereafter traveled to France where he completed several stages with notable Great Chefs such as Pierre Troisgros, Georges Blanc (who was featured in GREAT CHEFS OF THE WORLD Episodes 100, 125, 132, 145, 158), and Gaston Lenôtre. Burke’s mastery of French culinary technique was confirmed when, at age 26, he won France’s coveted Meilleurs Ouvriers de France Diplome d’Honneur for unparalleled skill and creativity with his native cuisine.
Burke returned to the U.S. as a sous chef for Wally Malouf at La Cremaillere and then for Charlie Palmer at The River Café, where he ascended to executive chef and earned three stars from The New York Times. In 1992, Burke opened the Park Avenue Café with Smith & Wolensky CEO Alan Stillman, and then, in 1996, he became vice president of culinary development for the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group. The Great Chefs team caught up with him there to tape an episode for GREAT CHEFS OF THE EAST (Episode 17), and GREAT CHEFS – GREAT CITIES (Episodes 13 and 63).
Burke has been honored with Japan’s Nippon Award of Excellence, the Robert Mondavi Award of Excellence and the CIA’s August Escoffier Award. Nation’s Restaurant News named Burke one of the 50 Top R&D Culinarians and Time Out New York honored him as the “Best Culinary Prankster” in 2003. In May 2009, Burke was inducted into the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America by the James Beard Foundation. In that same month, he also won the distinctive Menu Masters award from National’s Restaurant News, naming him one of the nation’s most celebrated culinary innovators. In February 2012, Burke was honored by the culinary school at Johnson & Wales University with the Distinguished Visiting Chef Award, which is given to the world’s most influential and celebrated chefs. In November 2012, he was named Restaurateur of the Year by the New Jersey Restaurant Association. In the same month, he was honored with a Concierge Choice Award, celebrating the best in New York City hospitality, winning the best chef award.