Chef David Rose says to raise foodie kids, start young: 'I had foie gras at 8, gnocchi at 10'

·4 min read
David Rose says, as one of eight children, he learned to cook from an early age. (Photo: Omaha Steaks; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
David Rose says, as one of eight children, he learned to cook from an early age. (Photo: Omaha Steaks; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

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Chef David Rose is a television food personality who has appeared everywhere from Food Network to the Hallmark Channel. But once upon a time, he was just a kid at a barbecue, unaware those first foodie memories and flavors would inspire his career.

"Growing up in New Jersey, I'm the youngest of eight kids," says Rose. "And everyone except me — mom, dad, cousins, uncles — was born in Jamaica."

"We have a huge Jamaican family," he continues, "some of my biggest memories growing up were these huge barbeques with upwards of 80 to 100 people and just a plethora of food. Even though the majority of my family were not professional cooks, everybody in my family — in some capacity — can throw down."

Rose says these early barbecues were filled with a combination of flavorful Jamaican foods and classic American dishes. Jerk chicken, burgers, grilled fish, hot dogs and curry chicken could all be found on the table.

"Growing up, food, laughter, the grill, family gatherings: Those are really some of my greatest first memories in life," he tells Yahoo Life.

As a child, Rose always reached for jerk chicken — which he describes as the perfect combination of flavor, sweetness and spice — a dish that gifted him with a palate prepared for the spicier things in life.

"I like super-spicy food," he says. "The kind of food where you're eating and kind of tearing up and your nose is kind of running — the spicier it is, the better. It's an endorphin rush for me."

According to Rose, jerk chicken and a perfectly grilled steak are still his favorite cookout dishes, ones that continue to inspire him in his work.

Rose spoke to Yahoo Life on behalf of his role as executive chef and spokesperson at Omaha Steaks. He says Jamaican food is more than just spicy, it's flavorful, spice-driven and has a lot of herbs and seasonings. When he's in the kitchen, he channels memories of those bold flavors to create flavorful dishes.

"I just always pay homage to my heritage, because those foods are the foods I grew up with," Rose says. "Synonymous to my childhood is soul food — so when I get the chance to weave that in in a way that makes sense and is organic, I always try to do that."

Rose describes his partnership with Omaha Steaks as a "dream job." Still, even this classically-trained chef acknowledges that sometimes cooking can be a challenge.

"Cooking can be very intimidating if you don’t know what you're doing," he says, "but what we love doing at Omaha Steaks is instilling the confidence and the skill set with simplified instructions, where people can make these delicious, amazing dishes — that you would pay top dollar [for] in a restaurant — in an easy-to-approach way."

Rose also shares his love of cooking through his cookbook, Eggin': David Rose Cooks on the Big Green Egg. Here, he shares his foodie traditions and flavors with the world, while also keeping a record of family recipes to pass down to the next generation.

"I have cousins, nephews and nieces, so whenever I can, I try to teach them recipes, bring them over to the grill, pass the tongs, teach them about cooking temperatures and seasonings," Rose says, "I try to share that with the world through my cookbook: I like to call it the culinary journal of my life, with foods that I grew up with and loved from Jamaica, foods that are from the tri-state area and also everything grilled and barbecued from all over the world, because every state, every region, every country has their form of barbecue or grilled foods. The cookbook is my love letter to everything grilled and everything delicious."

Beyond grilled foods and Jamaican cuisine, this chef credits his home state as the perfect breeding ground for growing his passion and allowing exploration of cuisines and cultures from all over the world. "The great thing about the tri-state area," he says, "is that it's a culinary melting pot where you have food from Asia, Italy, Israel and beyond."

"Some of my favorite memories growing up," he adds, "I had foie gras at 8, gnocchi at 10 — I really think that, coupled with me being Jamaican, fueled my desire and my love for food."

For this 38-year-old chef, a love for cooking and food comes naturally, no matter the situation at hand. "I've always been surrounded by food," he says. "That's why good food has always resonated with me. Regardless of if you're celebrating something or you're mourning, there's good food and laughter."

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