Photo by George Pimentel/Nespresso.

David Burtka

The daily grind.

David Burtka has put the busiest year of his life behind him. The whirlwind experience included selling his catering business and relocating from Los Angeles to New York with his husband, Neil Patrick Harris, and their five-year-old twins. “We move[d] back to New York in March of last year,” he says over the phone from Toronto. “It was the craziest year. Niel was doing Hedwig [and the Angry Inch on Broadway], we moved across country, the kids were going into a new school, I started a new Broadway show, we renovated a 9,000-square-foot brownstone, and we got married in one year. I mean, insane. I would never want to do that year again.” The family man credits his focus on carving out enough time for himself and his husband with keeping everything running smoothly. “You have to take time for yourself and for your spouse, because if you don’t do that, and if the kids don’t see that you guys are happy, and there’s a foundation, then it just won’t be as gratifying—or it won’t make sense to them,” he explains. “I think you really have to take care of your relationship first before you start taking care of the kids.”

Taking time to rewind and decompress is what also led Burtka to his culinary career. “My mom died eight years ago and I was living in Los Angeles and not really enjoying being an actor, and I thought: ‘What makes me happy?’” he says. “And I thought, ‘Cooking. Cooking makes me happy.’ It’s therapeutic for me.” After this period of self-reflection, Burtka enrolled himself in the esteemed Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School: “It ended up really taking off for me, mentally, and things started happening in the world of cooking.” This zeal for chefdom was established early on. “My parents always loved entertaining,” he recalls. “From a very young age, my mom used to put my sister and me to work to cleanup and do chores for her cocktail parties.” This sous-chef training came in handy while he was working with Mario Batali and Thomas Keller upon leaving culinary school; following those stints, he went on to open his own catering company. Now he is collaborating with Nespresso, and has produced a holiday entertaining guide and selection of recipes. The project has had an influence on Burtka’s cooking, encouraging him to discover the ways that coffee can unexpectedly shape a meal. “Coffee gives a nice rich, bold flavour, sort of a darkness or undertone of flavor components to a lot of savory dishes,” he says. Burtka encourages home chefs to utilize coffee in its ground state: “You can mix different spices, like coriander, cumin, oregano, chilli powder, sort of like a mole, or you could do an actual rub on a brisket or lamb chops or spiced chicken wings.”

Despite the focus on food, acting has a place in his heart, and not just because it’s the work that his husband (known for his role on How I Met Your Mother) does. Burtka remains hushed about his current acting projects, but confirms that a handful of various ventures are in the works. “I’m sort of focusing my world into more cooking and entertaining,” he says. “There’s talk about a book and a TV show, and I’ve just been developing that right now.” Earlier this year, Burtka and Harris shot an episode of Barefoot in L.A. with the host that every gourmand idolizes, Ina Garten. Burtka confirms that he’s “working with her producers right now on something—what a team.”

Not too long ago, in fact, Burtka and Harris were at Garten’s home for dinner, and he affirms that she is just as delightful as she seems on television. “You just want to cuddle up with her while she feeds you prosciutto-wrapped figs,” he gushes. When asked whom he would most like to have coffee with, he confidently responds with Garten. “I mean, she would make me the most amazing chocolate whipped cream cake, and I’d sip coffee and just smile at her,” he says. While Garten supplies the dessert, Burtka can bring the coffee. He’s got connections.


Post Date:

November 23, 2015