Five Minutes With David Myers
The "Gypsy Chef" has opened 20 restaurants in nine cities across three continents.
To say David Myers has wanderlust would be an understatement. But how does an insatiable love for travel square up with the ever-demanding schedule of being a chef? Sure — more and more people are eschewing traditional workplaces, but there are some professions that still require being present, like chefs. After all, it’s hard to cook a perfect meal without actually being behind the burner.
Yet Myers has managed to turn his love of travel into a way of honing his culinary skills.
The chef started with a traditional upward trajectory, working with the likes of Charlie Trotter. Daniel Boulud, and Gerard Boyer before opening Sona in Los Angeles, which earned a Michelin star. Since then, Meyers has opened 20 restaurants in nine cities across three continents. Myers has restaurants in Dubai, Doha, Tokyo, Singapore, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Delhi, and more, earning the title of “gypsy chef”.
This week, Myers opened Adrift Mare, located on the 25th floor of the Hotel AKA Brickell. The restaurant offers Mediterranean fare and cocktails by Moe Aljaff and Juliette Larrouy of Two Schmucks.
Broken Palate spoke with Myers about balancing travel and cooking, and why Miami is having a moment.
Broken Palate: First off, how did you get the moniker of “gypsy chef” and what does that mean to you?
David Myers: Pre-Covid, I traveled 50 weeks out of the year. I'd travel for work — Doha, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong. When I got back from a trip, I met up with some friends for some beers. They all suggested I do some sort of a show, saying, “Man, you’re such a gypsy”. That’s how it started — it was one of those nights over beers.
BP: Does travel help inspire the menus at your restaurants?
DM: Travel has been my biggest inspiration. It’s authenticity. For me, there’s nothing but positives about seeing new places. I’d actually love to do a concept called “Gypsy” where the restaurant evolves every month. And I think my love of travel goes hand-in-hand with the Adrift mindset. Adrift, for me, is an homage to the people who want to explore and enjoy life. The only downside is that I don’t have time for a dog right now.
BP: Dogs are super important. Dogs and beer.
DM: Right! I’ve had eight dogs in my life and I love dogs. I cannot wait until I’m more settled so I can have a German Shepherd.
BP: You just opened Adrift Mare in Miami. Can you share details about the opening?
DM: First of all, Miami, in my opinion, is the hottest food city right now — hands down. I look at Miami as being the ultimate sister city to Dubai: They both have the culture and the glitz.
When I was young, my family would go on vacation to Miami. Over the years, I’ve kept my eye on Miami. I’ve come down here professionally many times. There’s so much energy. I’m also astounded by the buildup and how it’s grown. And being a coastal city, Miami fits into our Mediterranean concept.
BP: Tell us why you chose a Mediterranean concept for Miami
DM: This is the style of food I love to eat - seafood, plants, and olive oil. It’s a super healthy style of eating. If you go anywhere along the Mediterranean — the South of France, Greece, the Amalfi Coast — you experience this style of cooking. And it’s just relaxed and you feel really good. I think this style of food really works in Miami. Plus after you eat, you still feel light. You can go out dancing.
BP: After Covid, a lot of people have revisited their lives and careers. But, traditionally, the culinary world involves working 60-80 hours a week behind the burner. How have you managed to do things differently?
DM: What you described — working long hours — that’s how it was when I was younger. I thought I was so into what I was doing that I couldn’t wait until I was an 80-year-old man on the line. Now, when I’m 80, I want to be surrounded by family drinking champagne.
As a chef, your office is your kitchen and your business is the restaurant. For seven years I never missed a service. We, as chefs, work insanely hard. We work crazy hours. We live unhealthy lives. When you work 16 hours, the last thing you want to do is hit the gym.
But Covid, I think, shook up a lot of people. I had restaurants in different parts of the world and didn’t know where things were going. So, I decided to get into the best shape of my life. And I don’t want anyone who works with me to not have a life. I try to create an environment where wellness is important. I encourage my team to do things in their lives that are important.
BP: They say health is wealth
DM: If you can’t move, you can’t do anything. There’s nothing more important than your health. Which is why I love the cuisine at Adrift Mare. You have healthy food and you don’t feel like you’re sacrificing taste.