Originally from Williamsburg, Virginia, Chef David Trubenbach got his first job at an IHOP when he was 17 as a way to save money for a car. However, it turned out to be the beginning of culinary career. After high school he enrolled at Johnson and Wales and from there moved to Orlando, Florida, where he worked at Primo with Chef Melissa Kelly, a true pioneering spirit in the farm to table movement.
Since moving to Dallas a year ago to lead the kitchen at Asador in the Renaissance Hotel, Trubenbach has carried over what he learned at Primo by sourcing locally when he can and, though it's difficult at times, he is trying to bring the farm to table.
How did you initially get into cooking? When I was younger I needed a job. My dad rebuilt old cars and I wanted one, so I got a job at an IHOP busing tables and washing dishes. I started watching the cooks because I was drawn to what they we're doing. Eventually I started helping them prep, served some, then over time I got into management, but I was always drawn to the kitchen.
What is it about the restaurant business that you like so much? I love not knowing what's going to happen day to day and how at a restaurant things are always changing. After high school I went to Johnson and Wales University and while I was there started working for some guys who had their own place that were graduates. There were two other guys helping out as well. One was a CIA grad with a thick résumé and the other was a self-taught chef. I loved watching the differences in how they worked. Unfortunately the restaurant didn't make it. But I learned so much by watching them.
You've mentioned that with a lot of your early gigs, you started out washing dishes. Is that part paying your dues? Part of it is that it's a way to get in. But it also definitely makes you appreciate every aspect of the restaurant more. If you can't wash dishes, then you're not going to respect your people. As a chef, you have to be able to help in every part of the kitchen. It's a respect factor because it's all teamwork.