Sandy Banker is an interior architect at the Friedmutter Group. She worked closely with Chef David Burke to realize the design and detail behind David Burke Prime, located in Foxwoods Resort and Casino. Together, they pooled their creative inspirations to bring the project to life.
Give us an overall look and feel for David Burke Prime.
It’s a very contemporary-style steakhouse that has the flavor of South American gaucho infused with Chef Burke’s whimsy. It’s roughly 13,000 square feet, complete with a bar/lounge, a main dining area, and a private banquet room for up to 100 people.
What factors into the inspiration behind the design and detail of any space?
I basically get a square box to work with. I start with “programming,” or the basic requirements of the space: what is its function, and what do you need to accommodate within it? In this case, I asked Chef Burke how many people he anticipated to determine the size of his kitchen, bar area, dining room, and so forth. From there, the flow of how each area’s function interacts with the others dictates traffic patterns.
How do you incorporate the client’s personality into the physical facade of a building?
It’s different for everyone, but basically I take a characteristic of their personality and reflect it into the design. For example, with a bubbly personality, I focus on happy colors. Since Chef Burke is very whimsical, I tried to incorporate elements that had a lot of curves and spaces within a space so that every corner you turn presents something different or unexpected. David Burke’s cuisine is like that–full of surprises.
“Jim Koch is a hard-working guy who has created a very honest product with Samuel Adams beer. I think there is a huge trust involved on the part of the consumer when a new flavor is introduced. He gets credit for knowing what he’s doing because it comes from genuine passion.”–Chef David Burke
“I have to admit that when I cook, I usually cheat,” confesses brewmaster Jim Koch, “because I use beer and my knowledge of beer to make the whole process simple.”
Adding beer to a recipe isn’t just another step, in Koch’s estimation, but a very important component: “The brewers have already assembled a spice package in the beverage; just connect the right beer with the right protein, and you have a home run.” Chef David Burke adds: “There is flavor in beer, just like in herbs and spices. When you add beer to food, to marinate or in a sauce, you impart those flavors.”
While most consumers still associate beer with casual dining fare, things are changing dramatically on the beer-crafting side. This has lead talented chefs to not only incorporate more brews into their cooking, but also develop their cuisine to pair well with beer.
“These days, I meet so many people who know so much about beer, which brew is made from which wheat and so forth,” marvels Burke. “There are genuine Sam Adams fans out there who endear Jim Koch with rock-star status. These are businessmen who know quality.” Koch appreciates the enthusiasm; he’s gone to great lengths to create a craft beer that consumers will take seriously, even as seriously as they take their wine: “Craft beer is brewed for flavor and complexity, just like a good wine, so sip it accordingly, because when you chug it, you miss all that.”
And there is so much to miss! Chef Burke calls Koch “the world’s greatest saucier,” because he flavors his brews like a saucier: “He has this amazing basic veal stock, say, that he puts a little of this and that into and takes it in all different directions.”
Take Sam Adams Summer Ale, for instance, Koch’s attempt to bottle the essence of summer. They start with color and clarity–in this case a bright, golden hue with a slight haziness to it–capturing that moment