Following in the footsteps of his father Larry, a lifelong club chef, David Daniot is earning plaudits at Grosse Pointe YC while also distinguishing himself on a worldwide scale.
While some people apply for membership in the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club (GPYC) because they’re avid boaters, while others hold memberships for the club’s social offerings, an article on C&GNews.com, which serves southeastern Michigan, suggested that the club in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. is now attracting a new group of prospective members—foodies— because of the talents of GPYC Executive Chef David L. Daniot.
As reported by C&RB in January (http://clubandresortbusiness.com/2015/01/12/grosse-pointe-ycs-executive-chef-takes-silver-culinary-world-cup/), Chef Daniot received a silver medal in Culinary Art and placed 25th out of 154 international competitors last November for the Villeroy & Boch Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg, a challenging event held every four years. But in his “day job” at GPYC, which he has held since February 2013, Chef Daniot has also been earning a steady stream of plaudits from the GPYC membership, C&GNews.com reported.
“He has brought a greater variety of dishes than we have had previously, and I think at times that has been a little overwhelming for our members,” the club’s current Commodore, Kevin Granger, told the website. “Our last chef, Chef [Robert] Carney, was extremely popular, and unfortunately he passed away while still working for us. It is never easy to take over under those circumstances, but I think [Daniot] has done an admirable job.”
GPYC’s crab cakes — a long-standing recipe that predates him — is still the most popular and requested item on the menu, Daniot told C&GNews.com
But Granger himself said he’s especially fond of Daniot’s steak au poivre, accompanied by a double order of asparagus.
“The [GPYC] Board always kids me that they should rename [this dish] ‘the Granger,’ because I order it all the time,” he said.
As the club’s chef, Daniot told C&GNews.com, his focus is on making dishes that are “creative, seasonal and well-prepared.” Competitions and continued training help him continue to improve his skill set, which he began to develop at an early age, and in fact had from the start in his blood.
“My father, Larry, was a lifelong private club chef, working for 26 years at the Detroit Boat Club on Belle Isle [Mich.], then for 22 years at the Western Golf & Country Club in Redford [Mich.],” Daniot explained. “I began my career as a prep cook at 13 and never looked back. I was his Executive Sous Chef at 19 and was offered my first Executive Chef position at the Grosse Pointe Hunt Club [in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.] at the age of 26.”
Food at home was relatively straightforward, albeit delectable, fare, Daniot told C&GNews.com.
“My mother was a simple cook — basics like pot roast, liver and onions, and a variety of one-pot dishes,” Daniot recalled. “With German grandparents, I do remember fantastic continental meals as a child, as well as a great rotisserie chicken on my grandfather’s coal grill.”
Daniot, 48, studied culinary arts at Macomb Community College [in Warren, Mich.] and has a bachelor’s degree in business management from Eastern Michigan University, a bachelor’s degree in culinary management from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, as well as a master’s degree in business administration from South University. He has earned more than 15 American Culinary Federation (ACF) medals and was honored as the ACF Central Region’s 2008 Chef of the Year. Past positions that he has held include Executive Chef for the Van Dyke Park Suite Hotel in Warren, Mich. and Executive Chef for Edgewood Country Club in Commerce Township, Mich.
Daniot met his wife, Danielle, when she was a server at the Hunt Club in Jackson, Mich. They have two children: Bobby, 21, and Courtney, 19. The professional chef is usually able to hang up his apron at his home in Harrison Township, Mich., C&GNews.com reported.
“My wife does most of the cooking at home and is rather good at it, as well,” he said. “Typically, I only cook when we entertain, and given my choice, I would prefer to go to Boat Works [a local restaurant] for their nachos and a tall beer.”
Daniot told C&GNews.com that he’s grateful for the support of his family and the GPYC membership, who have helped him accomplish his culinary goals so far. But he still has more he’d like to achieve.
Daniot hopes to earn the extremely difficult title of Certified Master Chef, C&GNews.com reported. Awarded by the ACF, there are only 67 CMCs in the country, and these exams—for which chefs must first qualify—are only offered every two years. Daniot came close to earning this designation in 2014, when he took part in the testing period, which was held less than a month before he headed to the Culinary World Cup.
“The exam is eight consecutive days and 130 hours long, encompassing nutritional cookery, garde-manger, classical cuisine, freestyle, global, baking and pastry, continental cuisine, and, finally, market basket,” he explained to C&GNews.com. “Unfortunately, I only made it six days. It was by far the hardest test I have ever taken physically, intellectually and emotionally.”
Daniot said he’d like to take the CMC exam again in 2016, which is also the year he hopes to take part in the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung International Culinary Exhibition in Erfurt, Germany — better known as the “culinary Olympics.” Another local chef, Brian Beland, CMC—Executive Chef and Director of Food and Beverage for the Country Club of Detroit in Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.—received a Category A gold medal in the most recent IKA competition in October 2014, C&G News.com noted.
In between gearing up for the competitions and the CMC Exam, C&GNews.com reported, Daniot will be serving up fine, fresh food for GPYC’s members and their guests.
“The dining experience is always one of the highest priorities with current members and prospective members,” Granger, the club’s current Commodore, told C&GNews.com. “Chef Daniot has provided us with the opportunity to continue to deliver on that terrific experience and enhance our membership value.”
As for his silver medal, Daniot said he plans to have it framed with his team chef coat. And he’ll try to keep surprising diners with pleasantly surprising flavor pairings.
“I cook from the heart with the best possible ingredients,” Daniot said. “Working at GPYC allows me the very unique freedom to source the best ingredients globally for the menus at the club. My team and I then take these ingredients and develop menus that make sense in terms of seasonality, flavor profile and presentation.
“One thing I preach to my staff is correct fundamentals,” he added. “Like a foundation to a building, you cannot build on it without a strong foundation. The GPYC culinary team is proud to say that no shortcuts are ever taken, and food is prepared correctly. Our members have very discerning palates and expect nothing less.”
Daniot also provided more detail to C&GNews.com about his experience at the Villeroy & Boch Culinary World Cup, where an international jury of 55 master chefs rated the competitors, and Daniot scored an impressive 86.6 out of 100.
The contest was a daunting proposition, he told C&GNews.com. Until January 2014, he told the website, “I had not competed in a cold food competition at any level.
“I have won over 18 culinary competition medals, including five gold, but all in hot food, so making the second-largest international culinary competition in the world my first cold competition was rather daunting,” he explained. “With the support of my wife and GPYC, I decided to try out for the team in January. A chef needed to score a bronze medal or higher in the Dorsey Schools Culinary Salon, and I was awarded a silver to earn my place on the team.”
The competition “was huge,” Daniot reported.
“Imagine 1,000 of the finest chefs in the world, all trying to accomplish the same goals as yourself,” he said.. “Each competitor was required to make four finger foods, each between 10 and 20 grams, two to be served hot and two to be served cold, but all displayed cold. That’s the tricky part. You have to make the food look hot, but it’s actually cold. Then we had to prepare a festive dinner of four courses: fish appetizer, salad, main plate and dessert.”
Daniot’s varied menu included stuffed braised quail leg, cured venison loin in vegetable crust, plum-encased Humboldt Fog goat’s milk cheese, and halibut terrine with spinach mousse, nori and leek.
Commodore Granger said the club was thrilled after hearing about how well their top chef had done in the event.
“It truly is a prestigious honor, and I couldn’t be happier for him,” Granger told CandGNews.com. “He has put an incredible amount of time into his culinary skills, and it’s great to see him getting the recognition he has worked so hard for.”