Two ingredients are required for a successful television cooking career: culinary talent and good looks. For the crowd at the Jonathan Edwards College Master’s house on Tuesday, Dave Lieberman ’03 was the perfect mix.
Lieberman, a Food Network chef who made People Magazine’s list of the country’s 50 hottest bachelors in June, described his unusual career and his plans for the future. Lieberman said a series of serendipitous events catalyzed his career and catapulted him onto the national food scene.
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Before coming to Yale, Lieberman decided to take a year off from school — a choice he said was significant to his culinary development.
“I had to cook because I was on a budget, and that was my genesis for my development as an independent cook,” he said.
Lieberman said his cooking also improved when he moved out of his residential college and into an off-campus apartment where he had to cook for himself.
Although he decided against attending culinary school, Lieberman turned to cooking as an escape from the tedium of college life, he said.
“I spent my junior year abroad in France, and that was formative for me because I lived with a great cook,” Lieberman said. “I did a lot of cooking because I was homesick and bored … My respite was cooking with my host mother.”
Lieberman’s career as a TV chef began with Campus Cuisine, a local access program which he started with a few friends. In 2003, Amanda Hesser, a New York Times reporter, heard about the young chef and featured him in a front-page article in the Dining section of the Times. On the way to John Gaddis’s “The Cold War” the next day, Lieberman received a few calls from publishers about writing a book, he said. The offers eventually led to the publication of “Young & Hungry: More Than 100 Recipes for Cooking Fresh and Affordable Food for Everyone.”
Lieberman said his political science major provided him with a strong background for what he wants to do next: get involved in the political side of the food business.
“I really think there are some issues with the food industry and the business that need to be dealt with [such as] responsible consumption and green biofuels,” he said.
Lieberman said the widespread popularity of celebrity chefs is a passing fad but added that “food is not,” an aside that drew laughs from the audience, many of whom said they were impressed by Lieberman’s charisma.
“I thought he was great,” Alison Rosenblum ’07 said. “It was great to hear a recent Yalie who has been successful.”
Lieberman uses only common supermarket ingredients in his recipes, he said, and his style comes from a fusion of influences from his Jewish grandmother’s cooking to Indian and Asian cuisine.
When asked about being named one of America’s 50 hottest bachelors, Lieberman attempted to dismiss the question as quickly as possible.
“I just got ridiculed, really,” he said. “They took some awful picture of me and put it in some People magazine thing. No positive feedback on that one.”
While Lieberman may not have agreed with the assessment, a few members of the audience said the magazine was on target.
“I have a massive crush on him,” Lauren Harrison ’09 said. “I want to bear his children.”