Though born and raised in London, Chef David’s cultural roots are Jamaican. Trained in the French culinary tradition, Chef David is known for a creative take on Southern cuisine with seasonal and local ingredients.
His cooking demo began with a signature dish: Barbecued Shrimp & Grits. He notes the combination reminds him of cornmeal porridge from his childhood, with flavors from Jamaican and British cultures.
The shrimp aren’t actually barbecued – Worcestshire sauce imparts the barbecue notes. As Chef David prepared the grits (also known as polenta), he acknowledged there’s no skimping on butter or cream, adding, “I am your chef, not your doctor.”
For his Braised Short Ribs with Butter Bean Hash, another restaurant favorite, Chef David advised using boneless short ribs. And make sure to “braise, not boil” when cooking the meat.
His mirepoix vegetables (carrots, celery and onion) are chunky, sauteed to bring out the sugars. Hoisin and oyster sauces give this dish its unique flavor and an unexpected richness. One caveat: plan the timing, because the short ribs cook in the oven for about three hours.
Chef David’s Butter Bean Hash paired with the ribs, a combination of butter beans, rainbow carrots, roasted fingerling potatoes, dandelion greens, and pickled Fresno chilies. They were sautéed and splashed with a whole grain mustard vinaigrette.
As he spoke, students and graduates from Fresh Starts Culinary Academy prepared and served the dishes. Chef David and guests paused an instant before dessert to honor three students celebrating their graduation after 16 weeks of training.
A Sweet Tea Panna Cotta capped the evening, using the Southern staple of sweet tea to flavor panna cotta topped with a scoop of lemon granité. Though not complicated to prepare, this dessert — like the short ribs — takes several hours to set.
Chef David concluded by telling the audience, “It’s been a pleasure to cook for you … I hope you’ve had as much fun as I have.” — Contributed by Carol Inkellis with photos by Neely Wang.
Braised Short Ribs with Butter Bean Hash – Serves 8
For the cure:
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon allspice
1 teaspoon chili flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
For braising the ribs:
8 short ribs
½ pound carrots
½ pound celery
½ pound onion
½ cup hoisin sauce
½ cup oyster sauce
2 pieces star anise
1 stick cinnamon
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1 gallon brown chicken stock
1 cup red wine
¼ cup blended olive oil
1. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper.
2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients for the cure. Roll the ribs in the cure one by one until nicely coated.
3. Place a large pot over low to medium heat. Add oil.
4. Place short ribs in the pot, making sure the temperature is low enough to avoid burning the sugar. When the ribs are browned, remove them from the pan and set aside.
5. Add vegetables and sauté until brown.
6. Deglaze pan with red wine and add chicken stock.
7. Add spices, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce and chicken stock. Bring to a boil.
8. Place the short ribs in a large deep pan. Pour hot stock over the ribs – make sure they are completely covered.
9. Place in a pre-heated oven 300°F oven for about 3 hours or until very tender.
To serve: Spoon butter bean hash tightly in center of plate. Place short rib on top, then spoon liquid over top of short rib. Garnish with shaved carrot and micro celery.