Family, Food, and A New Face In Town: David Rose Takes Over as Executive Chef of Omaha SteaksMay 27, 2021 04:18PM ● By Chris Bowling
Corn and lobster sizzle in bacon fat on the stove as a cascade of spices fall from the chef’s fingers to the filet mignon on the cutting board.
If this were at a restaurant, the chef’s eyes might dart around as they watch dishes in preparation, but David Rose is staring straight ahead. In a black apron and gray T-shirt pulled tight against thick muscles, the new executive chef for Omaha Steaks isn’t worried about a dinner rush. He’s looking right at his audience.
In Omaha Steaks’ YouTube videos, his goal is to connect consumers with recipes that make the most out of their food. And of course, always push the brand, which is no problem for this 39-year-old with a bright smile, close-cropped beard, and tendency for big hand gestures.
“With surf and turf, we’re talking about luxury,” Rose said in one video, “and what’s more luxurious than this wild-caught Maine lobster? It’s shipped fresh to you, frozen day of, so you literally can taste the freshness, all the way from Maine to your mouth.”
That’s Rose’s personality coming through. He’s a salesman who’s genuinely excited about his product, a celebrity chef who wants to use his platform to connect people to food, and, above all, a people person. He hopes to add to Omaha Steaks’ 113-year history a new, friendly face who can get more people in the kitchen and push the brand’s products to places they’ve never been.
“I want to bring you in my kitchen and show you how to make some amazing food,” he said.
Food is inseparable from culture, identity, and family for Rose.
The son of Jamaican immigrants who settled in New Jersey, Rose grew up with eight brothers and sisters, and a cadre of aunts, uncles, and cousins who all lived nearby (his mom was one of 13 kids and his dad one of 10). Thanksgivings, birthdays, and summer barbecues meant upwards of 100 people eating jerk chicken and oxtails bursting with Carribbean flavors along with hot dogs and hamburgers with ketchup and mustard.
“Everybody would kind of bring their own flair and twist to the food,” he said.
From the time he got his first job at 13, he worked in hotels and restaurants. At the time it was just a job for him—he’d seen his parents make careers cooking for seniors and nuns, so a job in the service industry seemed natural.
In 2003, he moved to Atlanta, where he got a bartending job, schmoozing and serving a diverse crowd every night.
His lightbulb moment occurred when he saw a commercial for Le Cordon Bleu, an international culinary institute that used to have branches across the U.S., including Atlanta. He realized bringing people together through food, and having fun doing it, was something he could do as a career. He enrolled.
“Nobody would ever really call me, previous to that, a scholar, or an academic,” Rose said. “But you know for me, it wasn’t really school. Every day was something new, a new adventure, a chance to create with your hands and create and innovate and also learn the staples and classical technique of French training.”
He graduated summa cum laude, took a job with the Four Seasons hotel in Atlanta, realized the hours weren’t for him, and started catering to a network of high-profile friends.
That led to bigger catering gigs, which led to brand ambassador deals with The Big Green Egg—a ceramic charcoal barbecue cooker that, as the name suggests, looks like a big green egg—which led to TV appearances, which led to facing off against Bobby Flay on Food Network Star.
On his couch hundreds of miles away, watching Rose furiously chop vegetables on TV in 2017, was Brian Fowler, vice president of procurement and product development at Omaha Steaks.
When it came time to look for a new executive chef a few years later, Fowler knew they had to get the chef with a big smile and engaging on-air personality.
“What I loved about what I saw on TV, is that that guy is exactly who he is. So no matter what he’s doing or he’s interacting with, he is genuinely himself,” Fowler said.
When Rose got the call from his agent, he thought it was a prank. Then it set in. He’d really be working with one of the biggest food brands in the country—a family-owned business that values accessibility as much as quality. In other words, people like him.
“It’s something that I’m very proud of and something I consider an honor,” Rose said of the position. “It’s something I don’t take very lightly.”
The opportunity came at a unique time. Home cooking and food delivery became top of mind in 2020. Meanwhile, protests for racial justice across the country remind Rose why this position is an opportunity. As the son of immigrants and a Black man, it means something to have representation in a very visual way, while also promoting recipes that connect with his training as a chef and his family.
In one video, he shows viewers how to make African Spice-Rubbed Porterhouse with Curried Shrimp Pearl Pasta & Collard Green Chimichurri. In another, it’s Philly Cheesesteak Sliders.
Any way you cut it, Rose just wants to make sure that people are learning, getting into the kitchen, and making something delicious.
“I want to see you win,” Rose said. “So even though something might look intimidating and you might have thought beforehand, ‘That looks delicious, but how am I gonna get from A to Z to execute it?’ I like to simplify things, break it down and make it easily digestible to where I can give you the skills you need to recreate something happy, delicious, and simple.”
Visit Omaha Steaks YouTube channel for more information.
This article originally appeared in the June 2021 issue of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.