An Interview with Top Chef Finalist Dave Martin of The Frying Dutchmen Truck
Dave Martin, a Top Chef Finalist, is now Consulting Executive Chef at The Frying Dutchmen
Wednesday, May 11th, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Elisabeth Rosario
Young entrepreneurs Ben Goldbergand Jacob Davenport will be premiering their highly anticipated fry truck The Frying Dutchmen to the streets of Manhattan on May 20th. The gourmet fry truck will feature both Belgian-style fries and sweet potato fries along with a unique line-up of specialty sauces and dips.
Joonbug caught up with Dave Martin, who is The Frying Dutchmen’s Consulting Executive Chef, famously known as Top Chef’s Season One Finalist, cookbook author and former Executive Chef of Lola, Crave (42ndStreet) and VYNL Restaurants. Chef Dave Martin shares some insights on what New Yorkers can look forward to if they pay a visit to The Frying Dutchmen truck.
JB: What is the one thing you learned from your experience on Bravo TV’s Top Chef?
DM: Wow, Top Chef taught me so many things, but one of my biggest take-aways from the show is to embrace the cooking style I know best -which is upscale comfort food (modernizing dishes I grew up with). Even though I was formally French-trained, I always worried that my food wasn’t fancy enough -but at the end of the day I really made the type of food that people at home wanted to eat. Maybe the Core Judges didn’t always love my dishes, but it was always my food and came from my heart.
JB: How did you end up collaborating with The Frying Dutchmen? What is your role there?
DM: I actually met Ben via Craigslist, which is where I also landed Top Chef and a couple of other consulting projects. They wanted someone who was all about creating fun and interesting sauces along with a solid method for fresh fry and sweet potato fry production and I think I have delivered on all counts. I eagerly await The Frying Dutchmen truck hitting the streets for people to give it a try …
JB: One of the concepts behind The Frying Dutchmen is Ben’s idea that in Europe, fries are offered as a main course and not just a side. How do you think the truck’s menu can help change American’s minds about that?
DM: Well I encountered the Euro fry craze over 15-20 years ago while in Amsterdam, and I think that in today’s market people are looking for fun and different variations on a classic -in this case the French fry. Although not reinventing the wheel, we are offering some flavors that folks really have never seen offered with fries. And by having so many great choices, patrons can make a meal out of an order of fries and 3-4 sauces and take their palates on a mini culinary journey.
JB: The truck will offer an extensive menu of at least 17 sauces including everything from Caribbean Pink Guava to Roasted Poblano BBQ to Caramelized Pineapple. Do you have a favorite flavor on the menu? Which ones are you most excited about having us try?
DM: Oh man I am very excited about the couple of flavors that you mentioned, but others that I think will be fun are the Chicken Apple Sausage & Mushroom Gravy, Prickly Pear Mustard and Cinnamon Maple Apple Butter (which can actually work as a dessert). The best part is that all of the sauces for purchase are made by hand and from scratch. Including all of the aioli, mustard, ketchups and everything in between -which is something that I’ve always sworn by and makes such a big difference. I learned this from my mom’s kitchen growing up and have always done it in my kitchens as a chef.
P.S…The free ketchup and mustard are not from scratch, but the aioli is…there is no nasty processed mayo on board the truck, yuck!
JB: It is well known that you enjoy putting a healthier spin on old school comfort foods. Are you doing anything to make the fry recipe healthier?
DM: Yes, I do always try to put a lighter spin on things due to my healthy So-Cal upbringing and although its tough to make a fat-free aioli, several of the sauces are low-cal and have no high-fructose corn syrups or glutens. I did my research on fry oils and we are in fact using a high-performance 100% expeller pressed soy oil that has not been stripped of its vitamins and minerals (like most fry oils) and has healthy Omega 3′s and of course is sans trans fats. So while I will never say we are serving healthy fries, I can say that we have chosen a premium oil for production, along with using real Idaho potatoes and farm fresh yams/sweet potatoes for our fries!
JB: What is your favorite cuisine? What are some of your favorite dishes to cook and eat?
DM: My fave cuisines are really sisters in the flavor department and that’s why I say not just the one but two -with Thai and Indian! I love all of the different layers of flavors in the two cuisines. It’s a reflection of my cooking style of layers of flavor i.e. salty, sweet, tangy, spicy and all delicious when coming from these two countries… love them both so much. I actually do cook a lot at home and for friends and family….love doing fantastic holiday spreads for Thanksgiving and Christmas…the big bird, my cornbread & sausage stuffing, maple & chili brussel sprouts, carrot mashers, homemade gravy, pumpkin panna cotta & sooo much more. For simple day-to-day cooking, I try to work with the seasons and let nature guide me but it’s always about a balance of quality beef, line caught fish (not farmed), free range chicken or other premium protein, some roasted veggies and always various rubs and sauces that I continue to create along with a fun salad, orzo, cous cous or other fun grain with all kinds of goodies mixed in.
JB: Do you have any advice for other aspiring chefs?
DM: I do…don’t let others get you down and follow your passion. Food is subjective and let’s face it -you will never please everybody but as long as you keep working hard and pour your love into the food it will work out for you in the end. So keep your head up and keep hustling, studying, tasting, learning and inspiring and keep on cookin’.
Follow Dave on Twitter at @Frying_dutchmen for all his tasty creations and truck locations!