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Chef Spotlight: Executive Chef David Standridge of THE SHIPWRIGHT'S DAUGHTER in Mystic CT

Executive Chef David Standridge of THE SHIPWRIGHT'S DAUGHTER

Chef Spotlight: Executive Chef David Standridge of THE SHIPWRIGHT'S DAUGHTER in Mystic CT

The Shipwright's Daughter is a culinary gem in the historic Whaler's Inn Hotel in downtown Mystic and the newest addition to the thriving and lively culinary community. The restaurant's kitchen is being helmed by the talented Executive Chef, David Standridge. Their daily changing menu draws from the bounty of local farms and waters and reflects the unique character of coastal Connecticut. The modern New England cuisine is informed by the flavors of Oaxaca, the deep South, and Southern Italy.

Prior to joining The Shipwright's Daughter, David spent the last 13 years in New York City earning his culinary chops. He earned two Michelin Stars with culinary icon Joel Robuchon, before heading the farm-to-table restaurant, Market Table in the West Village.

Next, he was tapped to create a new health-focused concept Café Clover, Clover Grocery and the revamped Maidstone Hotel in East Hampton.

His culinary roots began with his Italian mother and her slow-cooked Sunday meals, and his deep Southern roots on his father's side. David grew up in the northern Appalachian mountains, where berry foraging and freshwater fishing were part of daily life.

After graduating from Montclair State University, David pursued his chef training at Culinary Institute LeNotre in Houston, the only French owned culinary school in the U.S.

At Shipwright's Daughter, David produces an ever-changing seasonal menu with a focus on the bounty from local waters and farms. Although a Modern New England restaurant at heart, David's cuisine is informed by the culinary techniques of Oxaca, the deep south and Southern Italy. had the pleasure of interviewing Chef David Standridge about his career and Shipwright's Daughter.

What was your earliest interest in cooking?

When I was 4 or 5, I was an avid fisherman. As I walked up the hill to the lake, my neighbors loved to ask me where I was going, mostly because I had a terrible lisp. "I'm goin' fithin!" I couldn't say it, but I came home with the fish. So naturally, one of my first interests in cooking revolved around "I caught - it now what?" Largemouth bass, lake perch, and even little bluegills, or Sunny's, as we called them, ended up on the table. My father grew up on City Island in the Bronx, so beer batter was well within his wheelhouse. He would cook up fish while reminiscing about eating clams right out of the water and all the little puffer fish he used to fry whole as a kid.

Another fascinating culinary moment was during our summer camping trips to Montauk, where we'd boil lobsters right on the beach. A very early connoisseur of lobster, I looked forward to this all year.

Who were some of your career mentors?

In my childhood, I think more than anyone Martin Yan was very influential. I learned knife skills from him watching "Yan Can Cook." Without a doubt, however, Joel Robuchon was the game changer for me. My six years on the fish station and as a sous chef in New York at L'Aterlier de Joel Robuchon cemented my outlook on food as an elevating experience, when simple ingredients can become ethereal.

What culinary styles have influenced your career?

I think the nose to tail movement in the late 90's and now, its application to fish in whole fish butchery and cooking, are very important to me. Fishermen, and the fishing industry are in great peril, and it's important for me to bring attention to that through culinary practices that highlight sustainability, reducing waste and respecting the animal. In our coastal community here in Mystic, it's important that we take the lead on how to best make use of the sea's bounty.

What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work as a chef?

At The Shipwright's Daughter, I'm taking an elevated and modern approach to cuisine using ingredients from the Northeast coast. For example, a classic New England chowder is revamped using French technique and handmade oyster crackers. We'll put a different lens on bluefish by pairing it with a blueberry kombu mole, and aji dulce peppers. And we'll put a whole fish to use in dishes like the Rigatoni Nero, with tuna blood sausage and stewed tomatoes.

What is your favorite meal?

It's pretty simple - a fresh, whole fish on the bone grilled over a wood fire. I always remember an Italian cookbook I have with the recipe for trout cooked over a wood fire. "Catch a trout, make a fire, find some herbs."

Tell me a little bit about your restaurant for our readers.

The Shipwright's Daughter opened this past summer. We're part of The Whaler's Inn, a historic hotel in the heart of Mystic, a thriving year round destination. We serve breakfast, lunch, brunch, and dinner. Our menu changes daily and focuses on modern New England cuisine, showcasing local seafood and the bounty from area farms. We have an excellent wine and cocktail program and a daily Happy Hour. Our goal is to provide an elegant and exciting experience in a convivial setting.

One of the things I'm very excited for is our ode to the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve.

The Shipwright's Daughter serves breakfast, lunch, Happy Hour, dinner and Brunch. The restaurant is located at 20 East Main Street, Mystic, Connecticut 06355. For more information and menus, visit and call 860-536-7605.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Executive Chef David Standridge

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