Interview: Canadian Chef David Hawksworth

David Hawksworth, 47, is a fabulous chef. He has two restaurants in Vancouver, Nightingale and Hawksworth, both highly successful (Hawksworth was rated one of the world’s 50 best restaurants by Diners Club). A no-nonsense sort, he is gifted with a great sense of humor. He is a family guy, a proud Canadian and is breeding his only son to be a foodie. He is very passionate about putting Canada on the list of excellent places to eat, and was named Chef of the Year by Vancouver Magazine in 2005 and 2013.

The Daily Meal: How did you get into cooking?
I’ve always appreciated good food. From baking with my nan, to my uncle being a chef as well, food would always bring my family together and is something I was always fascinated by. Since I was young, I loved the idea of creating something that was universally enjoyed. When it came time to choose a career, this stuck with me and has ever since.

What keeps you cooking?
Seeing Canada as a culinary destination really making its mark on the international scene and feeling like I have a part in that. Also, my love of food. With food trends, what’s available and in season ever changing, the thrill from being in the kitchen and creating something new never goes away for me.

Do you prefer a particular style of cooking?
Using my European-trained technical ability while still focusing on local as much as possible to best showcase Canadian cuisine in a very contemporary way. This is shown uniquely through each of my establishments; Hawksworth for its fine dining, Nightingale for its social dining and share plates, and Bel Café for a quick yet quality option.

What kind of atmosphere do you try to create in the kitchen?
Professional and a place of learning. The chefs that come through Hawksworth and Nightingale’s kitchen doors are often young yet very well-trained with an unmatched keenness for the industry. I want to instill this even further, showing them the skills, techniques and expertise it takes to make it in the best kitchens in the world knowing that they’re fully capable in doing so.

What is your favorite spice? How do you use it?
I can’t say I have a favorite as each enhances one dish so beautifully, and another not nearly as much. For me, it’s more about the quality of each spice and how it’s been procured.