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Chef David Lepage

Updated: Jul 1, 2022

An Ode to His Culinary Calling

David Lepage, Executive Chef of Cafe Boulud The Bahamas, talks about finding his passion, the value of mentorship, and what it means to be a leader.

Smiling man in chef's coat, sitting at a restaurant
David Lepage, Executive Chef of Cafe Boulud The Bahamas

When he worked at a restaurant for the first time, Montreal-born David Lepage found absolutely no joy in the experience. The high pressure and the drudgery of that job did not appeal to him. He remembers walking away thinking, “How can people stand this stressful way of making a living?”

He pursued an avid interest in music instead. That was perhaps foundational to his current work discipline. In music, it takes rigorous training to master the techniques and properly render a musical piece. But most gratifying is the freedom of expressing it your own special way.

He was already enrolled in the college of music when he landed another restaurant job working for a ready-to-retire French chef. “It was just him and me in the kitchen,” he said, “until a Swiss couple came along.” The woman had front of house experience while the man was a trained chef.

Working alongside the Swiss chef, the young Chef David learned there was so much more to cooking. He discovered that it’s a craft which requires years of serious training. But once equipped with the right skills, a chef would find so much room for creativity. That, to him, was pure delight.

Without a second thought, he switched to culinary school, taking along a treasured advice: “Seek to work with serious chefs who are willing to teach you.”

The value of mentorship

With a new-found passion, he persevered, even as the demands of his professional culinary training continued to grow. He knew the path wasn’t going to be easy but he had made up his mind. His ultimate goal was to work in a critically-acclaimed fine dining restaurant.

Throughout his career, he found valuable mentorship and support from several brilliant chefs including Paul Liebrandt, formerly with the two-star Michelin-rated Corton in New York.

All those opportunities led to his flourishing career at Daniel Boulud’s restaurants, starting at Cafe Boulud in New York, moving to Maison Boulud in Montreal, and then returning to New York where he worked at Restaurant Daniel (achieving his goal of working at a Michelin Star restaurant).

Gaining the confidence of Daniel Boulud, he was later entrusted with the executive chef position in Bar Boulud London in 2019 and now, executive chef of Cafe Boulud The Bahamas, Daniel Boulud’s first-ever restaurant in The Bahamas.

Most impressionable was the mentorship he received from Gavin Kaysen when they worked together at Restaurant Daniel in New York. Over a period of 18 months, Chef Gavin Kaysen assigned him to work in every kitchen station. He remembers going home exhausted yet feeling deeply fulfilled having survived the grueling hours in the reputed tough kitchen.

Now as captain at the helm of Cafe Boulud The Bahamas, Chef David recognizes his duty as a leader and mentor. “I strive to create a fun environment where my whole team effortlessly bonds together. I want to keep the team members interested and passionate in their own craft-- as passionate as I am in what I do.”

“I know I am imperfect but I rest in the fact that I’m always progressing,” professed Chef David.

Keeping up with trends

As a leader, he stays abreast with industry trends. Having just returned from a week-long immersive vacation in Mexico, he enthusiastically talked about his food adventures there.

“Mexico City is a fast-growing gastronomic center,” he related. “From the street food, to casual eateries, and to the up-and-coming restaurants, the diversity is intoxicating.”

He’s fascinated at how private French chefs creatively use Mexican ingredients while cooking them in traditional French style. This concept is not new to him and he is taking a similar approach while in The Bahamas.

Chef David understands the challenges of being on an island when it comes to consistent sourcing of ingredients. Add to that the complications brought about by the global pandemic. But he openly accepts such challenges and is quick to adapt, especially when there is no compromising the quality of his food.

Man in chef's coat gestures as he explains
Chef David Lepage talks about his passion

What’s next?

Currently, he is delving into creative menu interpretations of local Bahamian delicacies like conch and spiny lobster. In his test kitchen, he keeps his spirit of adventure alive as he engages in menu development and experimentation.

“I love to cook for people and I love to improvise,” he admits, hoping to introduce more interesting twists to his culinary creations. As in music, his cooking style combines the elements of beauty, harmony, and professional technique. The end-result is a masterpiece, evoking emotions that carry you away.

For this chef, there is still so much to learn and discover. But keep your eyes on him as he is definitely a chef to watch.

“I know I am imperfect but I rest in the fact that I’m always progressing,” professed Chef David.

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