Performance Foodservice's David McGurn Talks Chef Invitational Strategy, Produce-Centric Dishes, and More
WATSONVILLE, CA - How do we bring produce to the plate in a way that both inspires their consumption and results in driving the bottom line across the supply chain? This is a question that David McGurn, Corporate Executive Chef, Performance Foodservice - Springfield, and 2023 finalist in the California Giant Berry Farms’ Chef Invitational, strives to answer.
But before we dive into that, I asked David about the dish taking him to the fifth annual Chef Invitational.
“My dish is Congee with Brûlée Berries and Quick Berry Pickles. Congee is an Eastern Asian dish that dates back as far as 1000 BC; today it has many names and variations of preparation based on regional traditions and geography,” he told me. “As a chef, I get excited with a dish that is the proverbial ‘clean palate’ or plate. For me, congee screams modern comfort food as you can impart today’s flavors and ingredients into a centuries-old dish. When faced with the decision on what recipe to prepare for this competition, I instantly knew this was the base of the dish I would prepare.”
Don’t let the simplicity of David’s dish trick you into thinking his flavors aren’t on point. Throughout his career, he’s developed a style of cooking that makes the ingredients themselves jump off the plate.
“My feeling is, ‘Why make plants into something they’re not?’ Let’s simply eat the plants. There’s nothing they can’t do!” he noted. “Knowing now how to impart the flavors, textures, and colors into food to produce the results I am looking for is advantageous to making fruits and vegetables appealing and delicious.”
Advocating for produce on the plate is something David has become quite good at during his decades-long career, and one he believes all chefs should be able to implement.
“The flavors and colors of plants in general should excite chefs who understand the concept," David stated. "The versatility of plants allows us to present incredible dishes that are desired by diners, are easy to execute, and profitable for our customers. That’s the goal, right? It’s only food and it should be simple!”
From working in his family’s restaurant as a child to starting at his first chef position in his 20s, David has a host of experience at his back.
“For the past four years, I have been able to share my passion with customers by providing support to them from a culinary and managerial standpoint,” David said of his latest role with Performance Foodservice, which he has held for four years now. “Whether it’s discussing current trends, new menu items, product solutions, or procedural challenges the customer faces every day, I get to play a small part in their evolution and success. It’s a great feeling and has truly brought my career full circle.”
David’s insights offer a glimpse into a great culinary mind, and I’m looking forward to seeing him cook at this year’s Chef Invitational.
ANUK will keep reporting on the latest news before the event, so stay tuned!