SALT OF THE EARTH: CHEF DAVID NAYFELD

By RENÉE GEORGE
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The abundance of simplicity is often a concept lost on our generation. Art directed foodie shots tout just as much presence in the digital sphere as Instagram sideboobs, cat Vines, andYouTube makeup tutorials. The art of consumption floods our daily feeds. And we always want more.

It would be a mistake to assume the grass greener or the meat leaner with a fussy approach to a meal’s core ingredients. David Nayfeld agrees. The chef observes a traditional, chivalrous approach to living a proper culinary lifestyle. It’s his love affair with ingredients that resonates after tasting one of his exquisitely prepared dishes.

Trusting in his gut, Nayfeld began his gastronomic expedition in California before heading east to New York’s Eleven Madison Park to hone his craft. Then there was Spain, Paris, and London, before circling back to Los Angeles to set the framework for Fifty Seven, a restaurant that, quite literally, ‘revolves around’ chefs. Now, Nayfeld embraces his future solo. His outlook, passion, and gusto pivot as he finds his balance with a new food tradition and a timeless restaurant space that obliges his way of life.

LA CANVAS: WHAT’S THE FOUNDATION OF YOUR COOKING?

CHEF DAVID NAYFELD: The underbelly, so to speak, of my cooking was formed in Northern California. I grew up in the Bay Area. Essentially, you don’t figure out until later on in life that you’ve been exposed
to an education of how human beings should eat—having vegetables multiple times a day with fruits as snacks. And not as chores. People have orchard trees in their backyards! Even
in East Oakland, people have apple and orchard trees in their backyards—because you may as well.

LAC: DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE A CHEF?

DN: I wasn’t planning on becoming a chef. I did love food, but it was all very accidental. When I was working at a produce stand at 13, I didn’t think I was working towards a career,
I thought I was putting my ADD to good use—my absolutehyperactivity to good use.

LAC: WHAT’S YOUR CUISINE STYLE?

DN: Stylistically, my cuisine is very much about showcasing and highlighting incredible ingredients and not over manipulating. Over manipulation comes with a level of insecurity—you feel like you have to work harder to make it super interesting or extraordinary. At the end of the day, we’re cooking food. Food is meant to be eaten. It’s meant to create comfort, sustenance, and happiness. Yes, a lot of it is artistic, and I like to plate with an artistic flair. But again, what we’re cooking is meant to satisfy people’s need for nutrition. I would say my style is trying to adhere to simplicity. My cuisine, or the cuisine I’m trying to achieve, is New American, Progressive American, or whatever people want to call it. Really, what I’m trying to adhere to is an abundance in simplicity.

INDULGE MORE IN THIS TASTY PALETTE IN OUR EXTENDED E-ISSUE.

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photography JOSH TELLES

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