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Business on a platter

Chef David Myers

Chef David Myers

Wanderlust is an oft-used trope on Instagram, but Chef David Myers has taken it to heart. He has lived in Los Angeles and Tokyo, and has restaurants even further afield, in Dubai and now New Delhi. He has just launched ADRIFT Kaya, a new take on the izakaya format in the city’s JW Marriott Hotel New Delhi Aerocity.

At the Delhi restaurant, with interiors by Timothy Outlon, there is an open kitchen and sushi bar alongside a 360 degree cocktail bar for those looking to grab a tipple. To accompany those drinks, Myers brings his appreciation for Japanese cuisine to the fore, with dishes that put a spin on the izakaya – think truffle morel miso soup and hinoki-scented black cod. The dishes are elevated with osteria caviar and wagyu beef. There are a host of vegetarian sushi options including mushrooms and teriyaki, but also myoga (Japanese ginger) and takuan (pickled daikon).

Main dining area of Adrift Kaya

Main dining area of Adrift Kaya

Myers will visit the city every six months, and in his stead, the restaurant will be helmed by Vladimir Villarba, who has worked in Saudi Arabia and the Maldives previously.

Boston-born Myers, who grew up in Cincinnati, set up Sona in Los Angeles in 2002 which won a Michelin star for three consecutive years and was shuttered in 2010. He says, “Over the years, I’ve embraced a somewhat nomadic lifestyle some might say. Although my base is in Venice Beach, California, I’ve adopted both Tokyo and Dubai as my second homes, and I often jokingly say that my suitcase is also my home.” He admits that pre-COVID, “I would spend 49 weeks a year on the road, boarding a new flight every few days and touching down on a new continent every few weeks. So naturally, all of my encounters across the globe have shaped my relationship with food and cooking.” No wonder his Instagram handle is @gypsychef, which he corroborates by explaining, “My love for the open road has gained me the nickname Gypsy Chef, and I’ve chosen to truly embrace that in every possible way.”

Live kitchen and bar at ADRIFT Kaya

Live kitchen and bar at ADRIFT Kaya

This globe-trotting means that Myers has had the chance to immerse himself in new cuisines which he says is, “nurturing my inner curiosity. It’s really impactful both as a chef and as an entrepreneur. I never stop learning and discovering new things, I’m a lifelong student.”

Myers reflects that his approach to cooking brings together his training from across the US as well as France, “I’ve been incredibly blessed to train with some amazing chefs over the years, including Charlie Trotter, as well as some of my French culinary heroes such as Daniel Boulud and Gerard Boyer, who taught me a great deal about the skill, attention to detail and grit it takes to work in a kitchen. Both Daniel and Gerard trained me in classic French cuisine, providing me with a great foundation.”

Bar at Adrift Kaya

Bar at Adrift Kaya

Los Angeles, which he has adapted as home base, is where that technique was allowed to shine. Asked to reflect on his formative years as a restaurateur and chef, he says, in LA, there is a farmer’s market every single day of the week so all chefs go and buy their own fresh produce and cook it that very same day, producing healthy dishes bursting with flavour. I like to take this fresh, healthy and vibrant approach to food with me wherever I go.”

Wanderlust though, has come along with other restaurants across the world, first in Tokyo in 2010 with David Myers Café and then in 2017 with the launch of three dining brands in Dubai, within Marriott hotels. Post-pandemic, there is a new global partnership with Marriott International, that includes ADRIFT Kaya. Myers explains, “Next month, I’ll be launching my third collaboration with Marriott in Doha, Qatar, at Le Royal Meridien where I am opening ADRIFT Anda, an ode to honest Italian cuisine.”

Private dining Room at ADRIFT Kaya

Private dining Room at ADRIFT Kaya

Beyond boundaries
Myers has an international portfolio of eateries that spans from comfort food to fine-dining. Responding to the pandemic, he launched Adrift Burger Bar on Venice Beach in 2020 and expanded that to a delivery brand in Dubai. That joins his two existing ventures in Dubai — Basta! and Bleu Blanc, both at The St Regis Downtown Dubai. The former serves Italian while the latter’s speciality is wood-fired grills. In Asia, Tokyo was home to David Myers Café and 72 Degrees Juicery and Café, though both are now closed. The Japanese izakaya format is one that he has tried before, with Adrift restaurants in Singapore and Tokyo, both of which are now shuttered.


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Printable version | Aug 1, 2022 1:21:47 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/business-on-a-platter/article65406978.ece