Award-winning restaurateur inspired by Norfolk childhood
PUBLISHED: 17:00 07 October 2011
An upbringing along the picturesque Norfolk coastline provided the perfect inspiration for David Howard, whose latest venture has been rated the best new restaurant in America.
The 53-year-old admits that from the age of nine he wanted to be a chef and set himself the goal of letting his culinary skills take him from Norfolk to the rest of the world.
And after a two-year course at the then King’s Lynn Technical School and a year as sous chef at Claridges, in London, he moved to Europe.
But it wasn’t long before the “land of opportunity” beckoned and he began work as a chef at restaurants across the US before he opened his first restaurant in North Atlanta.
Fast forward 20 years and Mr Howard’s latest venture called Husk has been rated the best new restaurant in the USA for 2011, which has brought huge press and TV publicity “over the pond”.
He said: “I remember starting to cook at about the age of eight in our kitchen at home in Norfolk with my mum giving me direction.
“My dad was a farmer so I always grew up with incredible ingredients in the fields, in the garden, on the side of the roads and in the pantry.
“The natural resources in Norfolk are fantastic and as a kid I would snack on plums, strawberries, gooseberries, peas, beans, carrots – and basically anything that was growing that season.
“Until you have pulled a beautiful fresh potato out of the dirt, wiped most of the dirt on your trousers and eaten it raw you have been culinary deprived. I am very proud of growing up in Norfolk in a village less than a 100, and doing my apprenticeship in Claridges in London at the age of 18 was very hard. I then worked in Switzerland in Genève and St Moritz, Copenhagen, Dublin, Bermuda and eventually all over America.
“I arrived in America with a net worth of fifty pounds and two bags and hitchhiked to my first job. I now have 250 members of staff, four different restaurants in two states – but I am far from finished.”
Mr Howard told his father John, who lives in Bircham, near King’s Lynn, the news about his restaurant’s accolade in catering magazine Bon Appetit on his 85th birthday.
The former Burnham Thorpe resident continued: “It was a proud moment for us both and I seem to have a knack for timing. My wife Anita and I got married on September 17 which is also my mum and dad’s wedding anniversary. My dad has also spent a lifetime affiliated to the food industry in Norfolk so I guess the seed does not fall far from the tree.”
His father added: “I am really proud of him. I visited him and his family last year and saw the run-down building that is now Husk and the transformation is unbelievable.”
Asked about any ambitions to move back to Norfolk, David replied: “I love Norfolk and it’s always been a dream to do something there but with my own family and business here in America, it’s probably not a reality.
“Plus it might interfere with the absolute pleasure of having a pint of craft ale in a rural pub when I return to Norfolk.”