A philosophy major when at the University of Texas, the 30-year-old self-taught chef says his interest in cooking started when he became a fan of TV’s Japanese Iron Chef... Kogan currently spends his days contentedly preparing food according to Jewish religious practices. Kosher is procedural, he explains—the best-known facet may be the separation of meat and dairy. “Kosher, first of all, involves no blessings or holy water,” he says. “It’s purely an operational method just like cross-contamination or anything. That’s my short answer. Except the procedure is very, very complicated, and it’s entirely based on Jewish law.”
He’s held about a dozen full-time jobs since graduation, but the first opportunity to run a kitchen was at Camp Tel Yehudah, the national teen leadership camp of Young Judaea in Barryville, New York.
“I have put sweat equity into learning what kosher really is,” Kogan says. “At the end of the day, I’m like an operations expert and a logistics expert.” Born in Philadelphia, he spent part of his childhood in Arizona and went to high school in Houston. He had been a camper and a counselor at the Young Judaea camp before the opportunity came to take over the food operations there.
With his well-trimmed beard and crisp green chef’s jacket, Kogan can joke now about the steep learning curve for preparing 2,000 meals a day, seven days a week, at the camp. “I had no idea what I was doing,” he recalls. “My friend gave me an overview and said, ‘Good luck!’” While in a hurry getting ready for a parents-weekend cookout, Kogan called the bakery and ordered “500 ham, 500 hot” for an anticipated total of 1,000 hamburger and hot dog buns—only to find piles of boxes totaling 500 dozen of each at the doorstep the next morning.
“You make big mistakes, you only make them once,” he says. Garlic bread and salads with lots of croutons were featured on the camp menu that summer. He has returned to run the camp kitchen for four summers.
Click here to read the full article highlighting David on Edible Austin.
David attended TY as a camper in the 90's, served on National Mazkirut, and returned for many summers as a staff member, most recently as our Food Service Director. We are so proud to have been such an integral part of David's career path. David currently serves as the executive chef and director of catering and kosher operations for Ecstatic Cuisine out of Austin, TX.