The ‘gypsy chef’ David Myers has an exciting history with big future plans. We dig deeper.
By: Suman Tarafdar
Posted on: June 15, 2023
David Myers. Image © Gypsychef.com
Adrift. It isn’t a word that many diners are stopping to ponder over as they scurry to have their favourite meals. Perhaps they should. For the word is at the core of the culinary experience on offer. Chef David Myers, who opened his first restaurant in Los Angeles in 2002, and now has 16 operating restaurants across three continents, is also known as the ‘gypsy chef’ – largely for his penchant for extensive travel.
He admits to travelling 50 weeks a year before the pandemic struck, and is once again getting back to globetrotting as he looks to open new outlets across the globe. As he says, all his restaurants reflect the flavours and ingredients discovered throughout his travels. “Travel is my greatest source of inspiration for my restaurants. And, you know, I'm happy literally being on the road.”
Recreating Japan in India
In Delhi, on the occasion of the completion of one year of Adrift Kaya, his Japanese izakaya style restaurant, the busy chef dwelt on the year, even as he hosted dinners to celebrate. The response to the first year of the restaurant, he says, “has been amazing. The numbers are much better than we expected. Repeat guests have been very strong. Critically, it's been, again, beyond our expectations. So, we are highly motivated for year two.”
“I live in Tokyo as well, so I'm immersed in the very best cuisine in Japan, and I eat out almost every night. And that's my inspiration for everything I do here.”
David Myers at Adrift Kaya.
His love for Japan is well documented, and indeed, one of his bases is Tokyo, where he has the Adrift Tokyo. “I love Japan in general,” he explains. “I especially love the food. I've always loved sushi, yakitori, soba, ramen, I mean everything. And so, for me to be able to open a Japanese restaurant was a dream because I get to do all the things that I love, and that I would love to do at home, but it's too complicated, I don't have the time.”
Continuing his paeans to Japan, he adds, “I live in Tokyo as well, so I'm immersed in the very best cuisine in Japan, and I eat out almost every night. And that's my inspiration for everything I do here. So, all the dishes you see here are things that I've experienced in some way or another throughout Japan, and I love.”
While the number of Japanese restaurants in the city has only grown in recent times, within a year of its opening within JW Marriott, Adrift Kaya has established itself as one of the trendiest places to be seen in the city. “Well, people just love having Japanese, and, you know, they really appreciate that we're bringing our version of, you know, an authentic izakaya to Delhi,” he says in an exclusive chat post a meal for the media.
Most of the ingredients at Adrift Kaya come straight from Japan.
Of course, a major differentiator according to the chef is the stress on the sourcing of ingredients. “We get a lot of great response around our ingredients coming directly from Japan. All of our seafood - our uni that just arrived today, our ramen just came in, I mean, pretty much everything. Some of our fresh vegetables, we have a local farm here in Delhi that grows Japanese ingredients for us, such as some of our microgreens, lettuces, carrots, okra, ... So, that's really cool. We made a commitment early on to get the best ingredients. And so, we have found a few suppliers that do nothing but travel back and forth between Japan to get us our stuff.”
Travelling for food
Of course, a number of chefs have established their outlets across continents, though have stuck to a single cuisine, at most offering it in different formats. Chef Myers however stands out in his ability to offer different cuisines at his outlets. While Adrift Tokyo offers the food of north eastern Spain, Adrift Anda in Doha offers Italian fare while Adrift Burger Bar – yes, burgers are the star - is at Venice Beach, California.
“I'm not interested in being stuck in one place,” says the Michelin-starred chef. “I'm not interested in doing only one type of cuisine. It’s just not me. I am always exploring…So, you know, being on the road that much, being in different cultures, being immersed in, the different styles of cuisine out there, the gypsy component really plays.”
“Nobody wants to be locked at home anymore. Every restaurant is full everywhere in the world. In Japan, [at] any of the great restaurants, it's three, four months to even get in. Dubai, three, four months to get in. New York, LA, Miami, same."
Adrift Anda, Doha.
His passion for his projects is palpable. “Adrift as a brand, it was really created based on my love of travel and using travel as the inspiration. So, it's really a brand that is created for the dreamers, the explorers and the wanderers. So, it's a luxury brand that's got a lot of heart, a lot of experience. And we want to explore different cultures around the globe and create amazing, amazing restaurant experiences.”
As for the impact of Covid, he is a bit more philosophical. “Well, I think in a positive way, everybody wants to eat out and party,” he says. “Nobody wants to be locked at home anymore. Every restaurant is full everywhere in the world. In Japan, [at] any of the great restaurants, it's three, four months to even get in. Dubai, three, four months to get in. New York, LA, Miami, same. So, that's been one really great positive.”
Secondly, I think there's a real appreciation for restaurants, chefs, food, because people missed it, you know. I think we're all really grateful that we survived during the pandemic, meaning like the business survived. A lot of businesses didn't. We had to pivot a lot as well ourselves, business-wise, just to survive. I think we learned a lot. And one of the best things I did during the pandemic was I launched a new business, Burger Bar. We launched our first flagship in Abu Dhabi. We have a number of others coming up in different countries. Maybe we'll bring it to India. But, you know, I did that at the height of the pandemic. It was super scary. Didn't know if it would work. And here we are. It's a brand that's now global.”
Blueprints for the future
Unsurprisingly, his next outlet opening is just around the corner. “I'm super excited to announce we're opening Adrift Mare, our Mediterranean restaurant, in Miami in July. It's all of my favourite places throughout the Mediterranean.
“I'm working on a big TV show that we want to launch hopefully by the end of the year.”
Adrift Burger Bar in Venice Beach, California.
But that’s not all. “I'm working on a big TV show that we want to launch hopefully by the end of the year.” He however declines to name the platform it will be on.
Chef Myers is also looking at launching a couple of other big restaurants by the end of the year. Another dream are hotels, which he says are the “next big thing. We want to focus on Adrift Hotel as our next one. We are at the beginning stages. But we already have the model fleshed out of what we want. We already have markets identified where we want to go. We just need to find the right ownership that wants to come in, develop it and do it.” Interested owners would perhaps do well to join into this Adrift journey sooner rather than later.