David Levi

David Levi, Vinland Restaurant
Vinland Restaurant
Chef Finalist competing for Top of the Crop: Maine's Best Farm to Table Restaurant

 

View Challenge Recipe: Beet Chip - Dehydrated Raw Beet Rounds, Ghee for Frying, Strained Yoghurt, Hollandaise, Cucumber, Chive, Herb Salt.
 

David's first restaurant work was in the pizzeria of his family friend Gino Robustelli while still in middle school. After graduating from Dartmouth, David worked at Bistro Latino, Sabor, and Trattoria Gigino. During his MFA writing program, David turned increasingly to private tutoring to make a living, which led to five years of full-time high school teaching at Trevor Day School in Manhattan and Merriconeag Waldorf School in New Gloucester, ME.  His tutoring brought him in contact with Cedric Vongerichten, who became a good friend and opened David's eyes to the artistry of the world's greatest chefs, including Cedric's father Jean-Georges and his mentor Ferran Adria. 

It was during David's tenure as a teacher that he became interested, then obsessed, with foraging wild mushrooms and plants. This tied in with his fascination with lacto-fermentation, pickling, dry-curing, and other traditional techniques of preserving and enhancing food.  At the same time, as he dug ever deeper into the history he taught, David developed a clearer sense of mission regarding society and the environment. 

In 2010 and 2011, David staged with Tuscan butchers Dario Cecchini and Stefano Falorni, ran a busy station under his friend Cedric at Perry St. in Manhattan's West Village, and finally staged at Noma and Faviken.  Through these travels, David zeroed in on the concept for Vinland, a restaurant that would source every ingredient on the plate locally and ethically.  He returned to Maine, started the Portland Food and Cooking Class, and ran a series pop-up tasting menu dinners, ten of them with his good friend Chad Conley. He is now preparing to open Vinland at 593 Congress St. this fall.