Chef David Waltuck of Élan - Biography

New York, NY

February 2015

David Waltuck is a bit of a Manhattan chef legend—and for two very good reasons: He opened Chanterelle in 1979 when he was just 24 years old, and, after nearly 20 years in business, it’s still one of the top fine dining destinations in New York City.

Waltuck’s enduring skill and originality have earned him international renown and numerous awards. He first began cooking while studying biological oceanography in Manhattan in the early 70s. After a brief stint at The Culinary Institute of America, Waltuck spent two years as lunch chef at La Petite Ferme in New York City, and then set out to open Chanterelle with his wife Karen in a then-remote section of SoHo.

The chef’s French-inspired menu changes monthly and features seasonal ingredients from local farmers (some of whom he’s known since the early days of Chanterelle), as well as the finest seafood, game, and, of course, wild mushrooms. His extensive travels over the years have influenced his cooking style; although he remains firmly based in the French classical technique, he incorporates diverse flavors from Europe, the Far East, and other parts of the world.

Waltuck’s first book, Staff Meals from Chanterelle, debuted in July 2000. A second book, Chanterelle: The Story and Recipes of a Restaurant Classic, was published in October 2008. Among its many accolades, Chanterelle is proud to be the recipient of two James Beard Awards, for “Outstanding Restaurant” in 2004 and “Best Chef New York City” in 2007.

After its 30-year run, Chanterelle closed in 2009. Striving to stay afloat in business and continue cooking great food to New York diners, Waltuck opened Élan in 2014, where he dishes out minimalist modern take on New American cuisine.