A conversation with Chef David Danielson
By Janice Carter Levitch
Photos by Kathryn Harrington
The Signature Chefs Auction will take place on Nov. 8 and will benefit the March of Dimes and the countless families they support. One individual participating in the evening of culinary excellence is David Danielson, the executive chef at Churchill Downs and chef/owner of the Old Stone Inn in Simpsonville. We sat down with Chef Danielson to discuss the importance of this event, the re-opening of his restaurant and his love of cooking.
What inspired you to become part of the Signature Chefs Auction benefiting the March of Dimes?
“I was a guest a couple of times at the event and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was a great event showcasing the culinary talent and some of the amazing restaurants that we have in the city. It seemed like something I wanted to be involved in. What’s important for me, as well as Churchill Downs, is to be engaged in the community and to give back by participating. It’s also a great way for some of my sous chefs to see something different than what we do on a normal day. All of us got into this because we believe in nurturing and helping people. And this year, we will feature some of the dishes from the Old Stone Inn.”
Can you tell us about the menu for the Old Stone Inn?
“What we’re doing is contemporary American cuisine, embracing some of the Southern dishes with Southern history, and reinterpreting them into a modern time. We do that by taking ingredients that some people might recognize as comfort dishes and changing them a little bit to make them more contemporary. On our menu, we have roasted pork tenderloin with a sweet potato puree, English trout with roasted carrots and, of course, shrimp and grits. For dessert, we feature an Appalachian apple stack cake, which is a 100-year-old recipe and was a tradition in Appalachia. Families would each bring a layer of the cake to social gatherings and it would get assembled at the gathering. It’s a nice mix of dishes, and we showcase the local farmers we work with from the surrounding areas.”
Is there an opening day planned for the Old Stone Inn?
“We officially open Oct. 26, Tuesday through Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m. for dinner and soon for Sunday brunch. In 2019, we will expand into lunch. We’re looking forward to opening the doors soon and continuing to give back to the community with events like Signature Chefs benefiting the March of Dimes.”
Is there a personal connection to the mission for the March of Dimes that inspired you to become involved?
“For me personally, I’ve always felt like giving back was important. It’s easy to volunteer, but I’ve always felt that by using my talents as a chef to help raise awareness for charities I believe in – especially dealing with children, disease and sickness – was an important way to help. The Signature Chefs Auction is one event that we’ve aligned ourselves with to try and help people out and give back where we can.”
Was there a certain moment when cooking became your passion?
“I grew up in Chicago and loved watching my mother and grandma cook. It was also inspiring to watch Julia Child’s cooking show. My first restaurant job was washing dishes in a French pastry shop. When I saw the chefs putting together the pastries and fruit tarts, I was mesmerized by the beauty and creativity of it all. That’s what really sparked it and that was the defining moment.” VT
The Old Stone Inn
6905 Shelbyville Road, Simpsonville
Opening Oct. 26
March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction
5:30 p.m. Nov. 8
Omni Hotel Louisville
For more information, contact Carolyn Harper at 502.473.6682