Three Questions: The culinary career of Los Angeles private chef and restaurateur David Chaparro
David Chaparro is a sensitive and deeply thoughtful man with whom one can be in engaging discussions about culinary history, music or the antiquities, always with a satisfying and enjoyable outcome. David is above all, a masterful chef with the nose, the palate and eye of a born restaurateur and it is this special gift that I've most had the pleasure of sharing in, and learning from.
While I lived in Los Angeles, David introduced me to the culinary greats of American baking and cooking like Julia Child, Nancy Silverton, Nick Malgieri and M.F. K. Fisher. His respect and understanding of where these American food traditions have come from, together with his own rich history of family cooking, inform his knowledge and respect for food.
David Ray Chaparro was born in Los Angeles, and attended UCLA, studying the classics.
However, his interest in food began as a child in his family’s San Gabriel Valley home, where he learned Mexican cooking in the Sonoran style from his mother, Eva Guayante Chaparro, and his aunts, who were cousins of the Guerreros who founded Rosarita, one of the first packagers of Mexican food.
While at UCLA, David began organizing parties and cooking for friends, and upon graduating, he set up Two’s Company, a party planning and catering outfit. Two’s Company grew in reputation, and its clients included entertainment executives, prominent families of Beverly Hills and Pasadena, and celebrities from the music, television, and motion picture industries. The company began gathering accolades along the way from the Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, U.S.A. Today, House Beautiful, and New West magazine.
David's next venture was setting up The Bombay Cafe with Neela Paniz. Their new restaurant soon became known among L.A.’s cuisine connoisseurs as the finest Indian restaurant in Los Angeles. David and Neela developed many of Bombay Café’s dishes while touring India, sampling the food of street vendors in and around Bombay as well as tasting the cuisine of many Indian households. Bombay Café success saw it featured in Gourmet magazine, Bon Appetite, Newsweek, Sunset, and Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine to name a few, and it was consistently rated as the best Indian restaurant by the prestigious Zagat Guide.
When David was not tending to Bombay Café, he kept his hand in the cooking world, catering for Hollywood luminaries including Elizabeth Taylor, Meg Ryan, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Laura Dern, and numerous parties for director Tim Burton.
David frequently traveled to be on location for Ralph Lauren-Polo, Abercrombie and Fitch, Gianni Versace, Nautica, Jill Sanders, Elizabeth Arden, Victoria’s Secret, and Calvin Klein with world-renowned photographers Bruce Weber, Annie Leibowitz and Mario Testino.
These days, David has given up cooking 'officially' for events and parties, but he still loves to cook for family and friends. He also travels as frequently as possible to eat with old friend and partner Neela at her home in Palm Springs.
I asked David to answer three questions:
Secret naughty food obsession?
Fruitcakes. (Recently I have been making one with real mincemeat. Heaven!)
Best thing you ate most recently?
Rajas- sauteed strips of chilies pasilla sauteed with onions, cheese and herbs, served on a home made corn tortilla at La Super Rica in Santa Barbara.
Never fail pantry ingredients?
Olive oil from Crete, Maldon sea salt, Rustichella d'Abruzzo Pasta, preserved lemons and Hatch green Chilies.