SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY—Known as an artist, innovator and culinary powerhouse wrapped into one, celebrated chef David Burke has for decades set the world of cooking on fire with his keen focus on the ingredients, elevating the act of gathering for a meal into an otherworldly experience.
Between the blurred lines of culinary arts and food technology is where he lives and creates. His influence is present on menus around the world, including owning the patent for the process of using pink Himalayan salt to dry-age steaks for up to 100 days.
His next act? Burke will make a star appearance at the historic Adelphi Hotel as the culinary director here. He will oversee all food and beverage operations, including catering and in-room dining services.
In an interview with Hotel Business, Burke details how he plans to heat up the food scene in Upstate New York.
HB: How did the opportunity come about?
Burke: I’ve always known Saratoga Springs to be a special town with a warm and welcoming community, so I was excited when Larry Roth, co-owner of Adelphi Hospitality Group, approached me with the opportunity to head up the culinary operations at The Adelphi Hotel and Salt & Char. Larry and I have a long-standing business relationship and friendship. We are passionate about the best-in-class service and hospitality we are offering in Upstate New York.
HB: What’s your philosophy on creating meals that not only nourish, but spark conversation and enjoyment?
Burke: My culinary philosophy has always been to create dishes that taste outstanding and are visually appealing but, most importantly, will be a meal that is memorable for all who come through the doors. Over the past 30 years as a chef, entrepreneur, artist and inventor, I have taken great pride in finding ways to pioneer American cooking. I am committed to crafting culinary experiences people want to talk about and enjoy. Whether it’s introducing a new dish, sharing cooking techniques or unveiling revolutionary products, I am grateful for the opportunities that have come across my plate and the people I’ve worked with—and served—over the years.
HB: In what way will you elevate the dining experience?
Burke: I’m working to subtly weave my signature style into the menus at The Adelphi Hotel and Salt & Char. The restaurants were already running at a high level of elevated cuisine and service; it was just a matter of fine-tuning the cuisine to best reflect my culinary style and what I thought would work well for The Adelphi Hotel’s clientele.
At The Blue Hen [a restaurant concept at The Adelphi Hotel], we expanded the menu to include a few signature dishes such as my Clothesline Bacon—thick slices of cured maple pepper pork belly slung across what looks like a miniature clothesline, as well as my blackened octopus and chorizo kabobs. Dinner also carries a more diverse offering of options with favorites on the menu like filet mignon, diver scallop & pork belly, roasted salmon, or the herb-roasted lamb chops.
The same was true at Salt & Char. The restaurant is the best steakhouse in Saratoga Springs and the menu is already superb. I added a few more options on the appetizer and main course menus, and made sure we included the steaks I’ve become known for, which are prepared using a patented dry-aging and salting process. I will be roasting whole fresh fish and lobsters and creating an angry lobster dish for our guests to enjoy, as well as adding seasonal specials to our menu throughout the year. Guests can look forward to additions like our summer salads, which they can enjoy on the patio, and fall dishes featuring the best in roasted birds.
HB: What inspires you to create meals, especially in a hotel setting?
Burke: It’s always about the people. I’m inspired by my guests, employees, the produce and ingredients I buy from vendors and farmers, as well as fellow chefs in the business. Working in the hospitality world, it’s imperative to keep the customer top of mind when creating meals. It’s the same when partnering with a hotel, but you have to take into consideration the hotel’s location and clientele. Community is everything and creating meals should reflect the unique characteristics of each hotel.
HB: What do you hope guests will take away from dining at the Adelphi Hotel?
Burke: The Adelphi is a historic boutique luxury hotel that has been a cultural hub in Saratoga Springs since it opened in 1877. It is the last surviving hotel of Saratoga’s golden age and an iconic place to say. It was important to emphasize a level of sophistication that reflects the history and welcoming elegance of the property since its reopening last fall.
HB: What else would you like hoteliers/the hospitality industry to know about you and what you plan to do in your new role?
Burke: As The Adelphi Hotel’s new culinary director, I will continue to bring the highest culinary experience for guests visiting the property. I plan to continue immersing myself in the community by working with local farmers and vendors in the region. Relationships are important— both personally and professionally—and I value these people and the work they do. It’s what makes my role at The Adelphi so special.