Jack McDavid was working his way through the University of Virginia in accounting and found himself handling the books in a sandwich shop and then handling the kitchen duties as well. When nearby Monticello Restaurant needed a chef, the owners decided to call on Jack McDavid. Once he decided on a career as a chef, he sought and found culinary education in some of the strangest places. A Greek short order chef taught him how to sauté. Chef Charlie Yu, Chaing Kai-Shek’s former chef, taught him about knives and presentation. He picked up the rudiments of French technique from one of Marriott’s top chefs, Dietmar Salat. He apprenticed under chef Jean Pierre Goyenvalle at Le Lion D’Or in Washington DC, and chef Goyenvalle taught chef Jack McDavid discipline.
He moved to Philadelphia in 1984 and was inspired by Great Chef Georges Perrier of Le Bec Fin. Five years later he opened Jack’s Firehouse in 1989. His dishes were considered “off the wall” with mixtures like black-eyed pea and hog jowl soup; crawdads and macaroni with spicy tomato sauce, and black bear with Coca-Cola. Great Chefs Television crews showed up in 1993 to tape him for two of their series, Great Chefs of the East and Great Chefs – Great Cities.
Chef McDavid has appeared at the Food & Wine Festival, cooked numerous times at The James Beard House and cooked for former President Jimmy Carter at Camp David with the late Anwar Sadat and Menachim Begin.
He sold the Firehouse and retired several years ago, but the food is still as good as ever.