The Grand Tavern - Chef Dave
The culinary journey that led Chef David Gilderson to the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas began in 1987 in Littlington, England, a small town near Brighton on England’s south coast in 1987. There he enrolled in the cooking school L’Ecole de Cuisine Francais Sabine de Mirebek, and a career was born.
His training took him to the south of France, where he learned to apply his newfound knowledge in the kitchen of the Hotel Le Vieux Castillon – a formidable feat considering he spoke little and understood less of the native language. He soon acclimated and quickly became fluent in what he refers to as “cooking French.”
Once his apprenticeship concluded, Chef Dave packed up his recipes and knives and moved to the United States. After a brief stint in Jackson, Mississippi Chef Dave once again relocated, this time to Missouri and Big Cedar Lodge. “I guess I was chasing the Branson boom,” he says with a smirk. It wasn’t long before his talents were noticed and he was offered the Executive Chef position at The Candlestick Inn. Having his own kitchen allowed him the freedom to create a menu from scratch and to mold and shape the fare that his customers have come to know and crave.
In 2003 Chef Dave moved to Eureka Springs to help open the doors of The Grand Taverne. He has consistently produced the best tasting food in a town known for its fine restaurants ever since. For starters, try the pan-seared sea scallops in lobster butter sauce or the handmade crab cakes with smoked tomato remoulade. Move on to the rack of domestic lamb, or the bone-in pork chop, or his signature dish of duck. You will say as many others have, “I’ve never had anything like it.”
Above: Chef Dave
Chef Dave's Tip
Anyone who has ever worked for me or has ever spoken with me about food for any length of time, will certainly tell you that I preach "salt and pepper". Proper use of the two of these is everything. Other seasonings can vary as long as salt and pepper are correct. My goal as a chef is to have the salt and pepper shakers on my tables be only decorative in value, or for people with extreme tastes.
I am bringing this up once again, as I am going through a menu change and am thinking of my shrimp cocktail. Often times people will use a special shrimp/crab boil. Those spice mixes are "cute" but they may make for a tastily flavored shrimp. I prefer to boil my shrimp in salted water with some black peppercorns. Any "cute" flavors are used in my sauces. You can create many variations of the traditional cocktail sauce depending on your mood.
You should always peel and devein your shrimp after you cook them. The flavor and texture are noticeably better, regardless of the seasoning in your shrimp boil.
This is all forefront in my mind as one of our new appetizers is the "Dirty Martini Shrimp Cocktail" which I am very proud of and I'm certain will be a crowd pleaser. I hope you will try it when you dine with us.
--- Chef Dave