WASHING DISHES AT A COUNTRY club as a teenager inspired David Belknap’s love of cooking. In order to pursue his dream, he spent five years working for different chefs before becoming sous chef at K2U in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio. He’s come home with his current position as executive chef at AC Hotel Columbus Dublin’s Spanish-inspired rooftop lounge and restaurant, VASO.
This isn’t his first hotel restaurant foray. After graduating as valedictorian from Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, he joined the team at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, then ventured to Puerto Rico; Denver; and Naples, Florida, before landing a dream job working under Thomas Keller at the 3-Michelin-starred PerSe. After his own NYC venture, L&W Oyster Co., he moved to Mexico. Home called to him, and he relocated to Columbus to raise a family and bring his culinary excellence to AC Hotel Columbus Dublin.
WHICH DESTINATIONS INSPIRED YOU, AND HOW HAS THAT INSPIRATION TRANSLATED INTO YOUR CULINARY CONCEPTS? Every destination has inspired me and can be seen at least in some small part of VASO’s cuisine. It’s not always recreating a dish you had before but more so incorporating the flavors and ingredients that travel with you. For example, lemongrass, kafir lime and fish sauce from Thailand, or plantains, pigeon peas and tamarind from Puerto Rico. All the flavor memories just tumble around in your mind and can end up being a truly miraculous dish without any particular lineage behind it. My wife is Mexican and believes more in tradition and heritage, while I tend to pair ingredients regardless of origin.
WHOM DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR CULINARY HERO? Thomas Keller — he, like many of us, started at the bottom and worked his way to greatness, but he didn’t make it without his fair share of failures, either. He’s had his challenges, but through steady and persistent determination, he continues to be a pillar of our industry.
WHAT ONE PERSON MOST INFLUENCED YOUR COOKING STYLE? Everyone you work with has an impact; but if I had to choose one, I would say my wife, Alexandra. When we first met 13 years ago, she taught me the art of Mexican cuisine; and two years ago, when we were living in Playa del Carmen, we were doing cooking classes and catering events together. You’ll notice a lot of my cuisine has Mexican and Latin American undertones. She also keeps me in check when I take too much creative freedom with a dish.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD CITY? New York City, of course. It has everything you could ever want — and usually an entire neighborhood of it. Such a diverse number of people living in New York makes it a mecca for culinary exploration, not to mention the insanely talented, Michelin star-trained chefs working around the city. We all spend years in the fine-dining world but inevitably branch off to explore our own styles. That gives rise to these small, hole-in-the-wall restaurants putting out Michelin-quality food without all the pomp and circumstance.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE NEXT BIG TREND ON THE FOOD SCENE WILL BE? Interactive cooking will make a comeback. The days of sharing an expensive pot of fondue may have fizzled, but we still see huge interest in people taking part in the dinner production, like tableside service where things are prepared in front of you but outside of the kitchen. We hosted a dinner at VASO where everyone made their own gin and tonic at the table, and the guests got such a kick out of it. With the invasion of smartphones into our daily dining norms, interactive service forces diners out of their “selfie” world and back to enjoying an experience and engaging and sharing stories among people.
AC Hotel by Marriott Columbus Dublin
6540 Riverside Drive
Dublin, OH 43017
tel 614 698 2525
American Airlines Mobile ID creates a more seamless, touchless travel experience for American Airlines customers with TSA PreCheck. Recently started at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, AAdvantage members with PreCheck can use Mobile ID at selected checkpoints to verify their identity. AA plans to deploy the technology at Miami (MIA), Phoenix (PHX), Washington, D.C. (DCA) and more later this year.
First opened in 1742 by George William Wilton, a seller of oysters, shrimp and cockles near Haymarket in London, Wiltons continued drawing diners with its delicious food for more than two centuries. This summer, Wiltons celebrates its 280th birthday and its place as one of London’s most beloved fine-dining establishments with a unique dining experience.
Resting on the edge of Reykjavik’s Old Harbour next to the soaring, sparkling glass edifice of Harpa concert hall and conference center, the brand-new Reykjavik EDITION brings a new level of swish lodging to Iceland’s capital city. Steps from Laugavegur — the city’s main shopping street — and an easy walk to a wide selection of museums, restaurants and cafés, the newly opened hotel delivers high on luxury and service in a location ideal for becoming fully engaged in the energy of this spirited capital city.
THE MOST EXCLUSIVE TOURS OF EGYPT EVER OFFERED
Recently, more than 345 million people globally watched OMNIYAT light up the sky for the launch of AVA at Palm Jumeirah, Dorchester Collection, Dubai thanks to more than 500 drones. Now, OMNIYAT will once again illuminate the sky with one light to signify the groundbreaking of AVA at Palm Jumeirah Dorchester Collection, Dubai.
Through Aug. 31, guests who stay at Château du Sureau for four nights receive the fifth night free. The extra day allows for more time to enjoy the outdoors and embark on nature-themed adventures such as rock climbing in Sierra National Forest with South Yosemite Mountain guides and renting a boat to explore Bass Lake.
ISN’T IT TIME? It's time to treat yourself to the vacation you deserve, and Celebrity Cruises® offers the perfect escapes. With an award-winning fleet of ships that sail to more than 300 destinations around the world, Celebrity will take you almost anywhere you want to go in style. Enjoy stunning staterooms and suites, culinary experiences imagined by Michelin-starred chefs and intuitive service. Celebrity makes sure your vacation is effortless from the start, which is why drinks, WiFi and tips are Always IncludedSM on every sailing.
In time for summer, the recently opened Palacio Provincial hotel in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, launched a new exploration-driven offer. The Sip & Savory Summer offer includes a mixology tour for two adults, a sweet or savory welcome amenity and a hotel-branded gift.