David Stark is President and Creative Director of David Stark Design and Production, a full service event design, planning and production company. You can find David working floral, lighting and – of course – catering, into his extraordinary events. His work ranges from intimate 150 person dinners to galas up to a few thousand people. So, you will be surprised to learn that he does a fair amount of cooking at home.
Learn what this event planning, book writing, "Today Show" guest stores in his home kitchen, where he grocery shops and why he is a big believer in breakfast…
Do you and your
husband cook at home?
We do cook at home. We spend so much time running around that cooking and eating at home is the most luxurious thing! I especially love having friends over for dinner. It’s so much warmer and more intimate than meeting folks at a loud restaurant.
What do you like to prepare? Is there division of labor in the kitchen?
There isn’t so much a division of labor for us in the kitchen. Sometimes Migguel [my husband] cooks. Sometimes I cook. We both clean. We gravitate towards different kinds of cuisine. Migguel is more influenced by dishes from Venezuela, which is where he is from, and I like simple food without a lot of fuss. Somewhere between both extremes is where we live.
What do you have in your pantry? What items you are most likely to keep in stock?
Solid white tuna
Whole wheat pasta
Where do you food shop?
We are very lucky to live in an area of Brooklyn that has all kinds of specialty shops. I love to shop the old fashioned way, going to each store for what they do best, rather than a generic supermarket. We have those too, but I pretend we don’t.
Sahadi’s is a family run middle-eastern gourmet shop that is incredible. It’s THE emporium for dried fruits, nuts, spices, olives, yogurts, cheeses, and they make terrific prepared foods.
I hit the farmers market at Borough Hall for fresh produce and fresh fish on Tuesdays and Saturdays. And when I just need to go to a good market, Union Market on Court Street is my choice.
For baked goods, we have a truly world class shop in Bien Cuit on Smith Street. It’s really special.
Do you have your go-to recipes?
I do. They change, but right now, I am into creating one dish meals, especially for when we entertain at home – things like fish stews or large nicoise salads that can be passed around the table or placed on large platters in the table’s center. I am not about fussy cooking, but love the freshest, finest ingredients that are hardly touched and enjoyed for their perfect-ness. A pinch of sea salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a touch of olive oil are all I really need to whip up a meal.
Being from Venezuela, there is no question that Migguel’s go-to recipe, at any time of the day involves arepas in some form or another, and he is brilliant at making them. I’m always surprised that American catering has not latched on to the arepa in the hors d'oeuvres arena. Catering in Venezuela definitely uses it as a staple for canapes.
What is your MVP kitchen appliance?
The blender. I’m always on the run, so an instant smoothie is a meal in a flash.
Do you have breakfast at home? What is a typical breakfast?
I am a big believer in breakfast, and I am lucky because Migguel always has it waiting for me when I get back from the gym, a little gift to start each day! He makes me a small bowl of berries, hard-boiled eggs (but he removes the yolks), two, toasted slices of Eli Zabars Healthy Loaf Bread and a little jam. I am addicted to Mariage Freres tea from France with a little almond milk. I like so many varietals, but the one I am into this minute is called “Marco Polo.”
Do you have a favorite cookbook?
I love all of the Ottolenghi books. I am not wild about their puffy covers from a design standpoint, but I love the recipes inside.
Do you have a favorite sinful food you keep around?
I do have a sweet tooth but my cravings are not for cookies or cakes. Rather, ice cream, dark chocolate and black licorice (the saltier the better!) are the usual suspects of my yearnings. I generally keep at least one of these staples in the house, but if I don’t WANT to tempt myself, I play games to resist, substituting ice cream with frozen grapes, for instance, which are so delicious and often do the trick of making me feel like I had a heaping bowl of ice cream.