BEST NEW CHEF: David English
Chef David English was master of the kitchen at Cobalt restaurant. Today that is no more because Cobalt is no more. In moving forward, he is hanging back – staying in New Orleans regardless of what happens to the city. His desire to remain here is that fervent. He has signed on as executive chef at Vicky Bayley’s new as-yet-unnamed restaurant at the Riverfront Hotel. The menu of that restaurant, as of press time, had not yet been finalized.
English arrived at Cobalt a scant year ago, at first an interloper of sorts, very ambitious – even a bit overconfident. English had solid credentials, but savvy diners wondered if he could reinvigorate the chic, clubby Cobalt restaurant, which suffered from shades of a multiple-personality disorder. Time and the city have worked their magic in smoothing out some of the rough edges of his early days at Cobalt. He has wowed diners with ramped-up menus of serious food with a seriously fun streak. English led his team of talented cooks to create culinary elements that draw from Louisiana, the Deep South and California, blending together a seamless and smart contemporary cuisine, including riffs on classics such as grilled gulf shrimp with New Orleans-style barbecue sauce and grits fries or a Louisiana crab napoleon with fried green tomatoes and Herbsaint vinaigrette.
English is also capable of stretching beyond the traditional confines of local cooking, and he has caught the attention of national food media with dishes such as diver scallops with corn liquid ravioli and confit of pork cheeks with apple butter and cauliflower-Brie gratin.
English’s spiky dark hair, bright eyes and Cheshire-cat smile hint at the fun simmering just beneath the surface of his intense personality. Diners can expect to be filled with English’s passion, skills and highly entertaining menus. –L.G.