Last week I dined with Chef David Burton Sanchez, formally Chef/Owner of Apatite Cafe and Carmela Hartman of Instyle Weddings and Destinations. Chef David is the newly appointed chef at Soleil, a restaurant in the Oasis, TX development. Although a little has been covered about the transition, I find David’s story to be much deeper than the surface level details that have been shared in the Austin area press. David’s spirit is so genuine, kind and joyous. I’ve included some “Stuff iDid and What iAte”pictures I took that evening in this post.
Chef David finds joy in educating and teaching others, especially those who work with him and come into his restaurant. While dining last week, I saw David do a “table greet” at almost every table, taking the time to chat with them, ask them about their day and explain different dishes on the menu (explaining the local flavors, flavors that were from other countries and the nuances of the dishes.)
He has taken a lot of things off from the previous menu, straying away from the Mediterranean dishes that were previously on the menu, and has added more approachable dishes for diners. His new menu will be locally infused with an international twist. He’ll still have the “fancy” dishes, but they will be served in the form of a pre-fixe five course “Degustation Menu” served fireside in the evenings starting in March. So those wishing for a more “adventurous” dining experience will be seated in one area of the restaurant, near the beautiful fireplace inside.
He states that he is a “like water for chocolate” chef, where when he cooks, it’s about the emotion.
This chef and certified sommelier has also made changes to the wine menu to make it more approachable. He’s added .375′s for those that do not want a whole bottle and he’s taken away a lot of the wines that many of his guests are not as likely to recognize. He’s also added a few Texas wines as a nod to local. He’s categorized the wine menu by complexity rather than just red, white, bubbles, making it easier for diners to choose by finishes and notes rather than by the color of the wine (as it was laid out previously.)
David says that he wants Soleil to be a place of destination dining where the food is heartfelt. “Where dining is an experience and not just about the sunset, it has to be about wonderful food and even better experiences.” He states that he is a “like water for chocolate” chef, where when he cooks, it’s about the emotion. If he’s in a bad mood, he feels that it can be reflected in the food; that people can literally taste the bad vibes. Therefore, he tries to stay positive and uplifting to others as well.
I’m looking forward to the changes and additions that Chef is making. I also look forward to more conversations with this “like water for chocolate” chef who is passionate about food, people and experiencing life.