CREATING A HOME CULINARY EXPERIENCE
Chef David Hill brings the restaurant to you
In August, private chef David Hill is already booking events for January. Traveling foodies, some of whom have relied on Hill’s culinary prowess for five years or more, book his services before they book airline reservations because fine food is an integral ingredient to a memorable stay in paradise.
Chef Hill creates a restaurant experience in the home, often for a group of visitors traveling together (think extended families, girlfriends on vacation, man escapes and couplefriends). Clients work with him in advance and set menus for the duration of their stay. Then the chef goes to work, shopping in the morning and providing dinner for the group: soup, salad, entrée and dessert. He works his custom magic, too, for special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries for Southwest Florida residents, both annual and seasonal.
It’s a niche business he has carved for himself: a multifaceted culinary career working one on one with private clients. There’s no middleman. There are no restaurant politics. And the feedback from customers feeds the chef’s soul with instant gratification.
“It’s a really nice way to work,” he says. “You are one on one with the client. I go in with one or two servers, and I’m there
start to finish. I have a good track record, so it’s worked out very well.”
The 40-year-old Hill hails from Detroit, where he worked as a restaurant dishwasher at the age of 16. That restaurant’s chef saw a natural ability in him and promoted him to prep work, line work and, finally, sous chef. His Detroit culinary mentor, chef Eric Pilot, suggested he go to cooking school to “fill in the gaps,” Hill says. He graduated from the culinary program at Oakland College in Michigan, having studied the food languages of French, Italian, Japanese, Lebanese and others.
Knowing he wanted to aim high in his profession, he learned recipes by memory and repetition, “building a database of
recipes and menus in my brain.” He moved to Southwest Florida the year he graduated, having eschewed the flooded market of Beverly Hills and Los Angeles.
Sometime during his seven-year career with Twin Eagles Country Club in Naples, he had a light-bulb moment. Hosting cooking lessons for members and introducing the concept of chef/wine dinners in the home, he realized it would become his profession. Today, his clients are some of the most affluent people in Southwest Florida, including residents of and visitors to North Captiva, Naples, Sanibel and Sarasota. He creates cuisine for parties on Florida’s east coast, as well. With that, he says, come flexibility, fewer hours and higher pay.
“There’s no ceiling to my salary,” he says. I can make as much as I want as long as I’m physically alive to work.” For that reason, Hill maintains a fitness routine of weight training and running to buoy his speed and efficiency, moving from house to house, creating celebratory culinary experiences.
“One thing I learned is that I couldn’t stand working under the same menu day to day,” Hill says. “If you find your passion and it comes naturally to you, it doesn’t feel like going to work, does it?”
There’s no middleman. There are no restaurant politics. And the feedback from customers feeds the chef’s soul with instant gratification.
Chef David Hill produces personalized culinary events in his clients' homes, working with them to create the menus.
CHEF DAVID HILL
From appetizers to desserts, chef Hill produces gourmet meals for private clients all over Southwest Florida.