With a heritage steeped in Syrian culinary tradition, David George’s passion for cooking was ignited by his father, who, along with his seven siblings, operated numerous restaurants and concepts around Amherst, Ohio.
David cut his teeth working every station of his father’s barbecue restaurant before culinary school, where an externship sent him to Chef Michael White’s Ristorante Morini on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
A two-month trial at Morini turned into two years working every savory station of White’s modern Italian kitchen, perfecting pastas and the fine art of handling delicate fish.
Morini gave David the grace to learn on the job, whereas the two years at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill in Greenwich Village that followed served as culinary crucible, turning the blooming chef into an absolute kitchen machine.
While at Blue Hill, a grant from the prestigious Bocuse d’Or sent David to Peru, where he joined the team of Central Restaurante — No. 2 on the World’s 50 Best List — for a two-month stage. Eager to further expand his culinary horizons, he ventured to Mexico and cooked at Nü in Tulum, where he learned to make all seven traditional mole recipes.
Then there was a brief front-of-house stint at Jean-Georges just to get a better grasp on how a two-star Michelin restaurant runs service, followed by an executive sous position at the French-North African Claudette back in the Village.
Now freelancing and exploring the pop-up world, David remains focused on being a person first and foremost. He reflects on his upbringing, saying, “growing up in a mom-and-pop restaurant where there’s no corporate side or safeguards, I missed a lot of time with my family because whenever something happened at work, my dad had to go.” This experience shaped his vision for the future, with a preference for international pop-ups over running his own restaurant.
That upbringing also instilled another concept in David’s mind: the Arabic word “tfadalo,” a common way to welcome cherished guests to the table. It’s something he heard growing up in Amherst, and it’s something he hopes to repeat many times over to the public as his pop-up brand grows.
Follow Chef David George on Instagram: @chefdavidgeorge_.