Hot from his long-time Executive Chef tenure at renowned SW Steakhouse and Lakeside Restaurant at The Wynn, Las Vegas, CW is thrilled to have David Walzog on board as our new Corporate Chef. CW Magazine was excited to steal a moment with this all-star veteran to get a taste of what he’ll be bringing to the CW table.
You’re known for creating innovative, lavish menus and running some of the most impressive restaurants in the country. What was the catalyst for accepting the CW Corporate Chef position?
When you’re a young, dynamic hotshot in the business, there’s nothing like it. You’re hustling and you’re making your mark, you’re creative, you’re building your teams–you’re doing all of those things. The road of deciding whether to stay at the ops and run restaurants or hop out and do something else was a difficult one.
Being a chef, I’ve never taken more than ten days off consecutively. This hustle afforded me great positions in my life and a fantastic life for my family. However, this comes at a human price, not only for the family dynamic but for myself as well. My wife was basically a single parent. So coming out of COVID last June, after 16 years at The Wynn, Las Vegas, with one daughter starting high school and the other graduate school, I decided just to take time off for myself and reset.
Coming aboard CW as Corporate Chef really happened organically. We used to buy from CW back in the ’90s! And anytime Chris Pappas was in Las Vegas, we’d grab a cocktail and talk about what The Chefs’ Warehouse had on the shelves, because we as operators are always fishing for different things right? CW offers that broad spectrum of interesting products.
Prior to Las Vegas, you had one hell of a run in NYC as Partner/Owner of Strip House, Executive Chef of Michael Jordan’s Steak House and Arizona 206 (to name a few highlights) Please share the allure of making the jump from the Big Apple to Sin City.
The bar was so high which suited me very well, as I’m a guy who never wants to settle; who always wants to keep striving for that food-ingredient discovery. I was lucky as a chef to be able to afford killer high-end stuff at any cost. If you were running an independent restaurant you couldn’t afford that. Guests were really coming for that type of bespoke experience when it came to ingredients and we were there to deliver. That made it a lot of fun.
Nearing six months in, how is it going in your new position as CW Corporate Chef?
It’s been quite the learning curve. The Chefs’ Warehouse has its own culture, which I find really interesting. I’ve been traveling a lot and attending a lot of CW Food Shows where you meet a bunch of people from all the regions. This really helps put pipelines together for communication.
But now digging in and learning from vendor talks with our partners and suppliers and being entrenched in the company is awesome. Learning by having intimate conversations with our suppliers is really great. I like to say that my part-time job is helping my chef friends with that kind of knowledge. I also like to make introductions to chefs about what’s on the CW shelves that are chock full of all-natural products or labor and cost saving stuff that doesn’t pinch quality. I see myself as a conduit between operations (chefs) and the supplier side.
What is your objective as the main host of the exciting new CW Video Series?
You know, I really love what Andrea Parkinson and John Magazino have done with CW Ingredient Insiders. With the CW Video Series, I am wanting to do something very similar to that but more visually captivating (being that I.I. is a podcast.) So a bullet point for us is to portray different ingredients in a concise, precise, sexy, and romantic way, and to also use it as an educational tool for CW Reps and our chef customers. Historically those static product sheets chefs get end up 10 pages deep on your pile of stuff on your desk after about five minutes. The CW Video Series will be much more exciting and accessible. Like the Ingredient Insiders, we want to have killer content, awesome hosts, and guests that resonate and tell chefs what they want and need to know to engage with products. This will also include modern techniques of cookery to make things more efficient. I think chefs/operators want to find any magic bullet that makes their lives a little bit easier.
You’re a man with a plethora of career options. Why CW Corporate Chef?
I’ve trusted CW for 30 years. CW never failed to meet my expectations in terms of products, and this helped me shine as a chef. I want to be a part of being able to tell that story.
CEO Chris Pappas’s endless curiosity to find the next best thing truly resonates throughout the company; to make sure that what’s on CW shelves is better than everybody else’s. So being inspired by this and trusting and loving CW all these years has me wanting to be a part of the company on the other side of the fence.
What are you looking forward to for the holiday season this year?
I definitely look forward to spending it with my family. In the past, it was always very difficult to carve time out. I was definitely pinned down. So at this point in my career, in life, if somebody in my family gives me an inkling of temper about my excitement to celebrate the holidays together, I’m like, ‘Come on, I missed 33 years. I want to have a good time! No complaints!