We are very lucky to have had Chef David Leeder working with us over the past few months. Having recently returned from an extended stage at Noma Restaurant in Copenhagen, David is currently to be found cooking in the kitchen at RGE RD. But on his rare days off, he’s sometimes to be found here at Get Cooking. Lucky for us – and for you should you choose to join us at one of his classes or events!
David grew up amongst a family of cooks and concedes that he was “bred to cook”, following in the footsteps of his Red Seal Italian Nonna and his bread baking Dad. Indeed David’s decision to pursue a career in the culinary arts was formed during a trip to Australia in 2008 / 2009 during which his Aunt introduced him to her local farmers’ markets in Canberra. David was so inspired by the amazing produce he and his aunt discovered and cooked together in her Australian home kitchen that upon his return to his native Edmonton he enrolled in the Culinary Programme at NAIT. During his two years at NAIT David competed as a member of its Culinary Team. In fact he competed at Hofex in Hong Kong in 2010, placing 3rd in Culinary Competition. And at the same time he met and studied under his current employer Blair Lebsack of RGE RD.
Since then David’s culinary journey has taken him through some truly illustrious kitchens both at home in Alberta and further afield. David has completed stages at Le Bernadin in New York, Martin Berasategui in Spain and most recently at Noma in Copenhagen: Le Bernadin and Martin Berasategui both hold three Michelin stars, whilst Noma holds two and is currently considered one of the finest restaurants in the world. In addition David has cooked at Restaurant Relae in Copenhagen, at Rouge and Muse in Calgary, and at The Blue Pear closer to home.
David points to his time at Martin Berasategui as being particularly influential on his development since despite the machismo of the kitchen culture, the painstakingly long hours and his inability to speak Spanish he worked hard and was singled out for his work ethic and his palate when he was made Saucier of the Carne (Meat) Section, of this renowned establishment.
David cites many mentors when discussing his career, including Christian Pulgisi at Restaurant Relae and Dan Gusti, Ian Doyle and Ryan Poli at Noma. During his time at Noma he learned the power of team work and sheer hard graft which he points to as integral to the development of the self-confidence that he feels is a key to being your “best self” as a chef. He progressed from peeling walnuts and picking ants to a 3-week appointment on the Foraging Team, where he foraged for the likes of Red Ants (used as a seasoning for their citric flavour), Beach Mustard, Wild Rosehips and Wild Sorrel. He then moved on to take
ownership of the outdoor Josper Grill on which Noma grills the likes of marrow bones, wild ducks, traditional flatbreads and also herbs and flowers.
David is currently back home in Edmonton, and excited to be part of the current changes in our culinary scene. He believes that as a cook you are always connected to where you grew up, and he would like to see more of our talented young expat chefs come home and take some of the risks that they have learned abroad into the kitchens of Edmonton. Taking those risks could be so influential.
David continues to grow and learn as a chef, and on his days off has been enjoying sharing his journey and experience with our Guests at Get Cooking. He believes that the transition to teacher allows him to share with others how he has hit his high notes as well as some of his taste experience.
David’s next event at Get Cooking is our Catalan Winemaker Experience on April 10th. David
will be preparing a menu that is influenced by his time cooking in Spain, but the cooking will be his own and will draw on his experiences in both Denmark and Canada as well. David will be preparing a meal chosen to complement our winemakers’ wines, and his menu will include Oysters with Roasted Kelp, BC Side Stripe Prawns with Foie Gras and a Prawn Consomme, Truffled Egg with an Aspic of Iberico Ham, Quail with a Brown Butter Emulsion, Basque influenced Flat Iron Steak with Garbanzo Stock, Chanterelles & Swiss Chard and finally a White Chocolate Bavarois with Rhubarb Creme Fraiche. There are a few tickets left you can book them here.
And David will be back with us again, this time teaching Spanish Cooking, on both May 3rd and May 31st. He will be drawing on his time in the Basque Country in particular as he works with you on a menu of Spanish Cuisine. You can book your places here: