Life’s touchstone moments happen unexpectedly. For Chef David Grossman, who spent his childhood immersed in food cooking with his mother and grandmother, it was when a copy of Auguste Escoffier’s Le Guide Culinare fell into his hands. At the time he was studying government at The University of Texas at Austin and working as an entry-level cook to make some extra cash.
“My copy is probably from the ‘60s, but it was translated in 1921 from the text originally written in 1907. It details over five thousand different preparations and discusses everything from making stocks to cooking vegetables to braising meats and more,” says Grossman.
Immediately impressed with his encyclopedia of French cuisine, he began to cook his way through the book on his days off. “While the foods discussed within this tome could be considered outdated or old fashioned by some, they represent timeless flavor combinations that are delicious, and will always be delicious,” he says.
After working two years as an entry level cook, Grossman sought more knowledge and enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. During his time at the CIA, he spent an externship with Roland Passot of La Folie in San Francisco, gaining a tremendous appreciation for using only the finest ingredients, while mastering solid French cooking techniques.
Upon graduating top in his class from the CIA, Grossman signed on with Alfred Portale at Gotham Bar & Grill in Manhattan. There he learned unwavering consistency, preparing more than 400 dinners a night in Chef Portale’s intricate style.
Next, at Restaurant Oceana, Grossman sharpened his seafood skills while working under Chef Cornelius Gallagher, learning the importance of meticulous attention to detail, as well as how to prepare and cook anything and everything that lives in the ocean. Following his stint at Oceana, Grossman moved to East Hampton, where he was employed by Chef John Delucie, owner of the Waverly Inn, a favorite celebrity spot. “At Waverly Inn, I learned the value of catering to the restaurant patron,” said Grossman. “At the end of the night what matters most is that we meet and exceed our customers expectations”
Grossman’s time in New York gave him immeasurable experience, which he poured into the Houston kitchens at Reef and Gravitas. Branch Water Tavern will reflect the years of experience Grossman gained from working at some of the most respected restaurants in the country.
He sums his culinary perspective in just a few words, calling it “classically inspired modern American cooking.” “It is very much this idea of timeless great food that we want to bring to Houston,” he says.