Dave Cruz received his start in the culinary industry like many in the business – in college. While studying for his Engineering degree, Cruz worked in dining rooms to supplement his living expenses. His excitement for the business of hospitality drove him to excel within the ranks of several restaurants, including work as a General Manager. He discovered his true calling when he stepped in to cover for the chef who didn’t show up for work one day. Cruz subsequently enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America to pursue a culinary degree and honed his skills at several acclaimed dining establishments including March Restaurant, Mas (farmhouse) and Nobu in New York City. On his days off, he staged at various 3- and 4-star restaurants all over the city in search of kitchens where the discipline and detail would further his understanding of food and cooking. This pursuit eventually led him to the Napa Valley and to Chef Thomas Keller.
First hired in 2004 as a Chef de Partie at Keller’s Bouchon outpost in Yountville, Cruz’s talent and energy quickly propelled him to Executive Sous Chef. With the opening of Ad Hoc in 2006, he was promoted to Chef de Cuisine and was instrumental in the restaurant’s initial success. While Ad Hoc was originally intended to be open only temporary, strong guest support led Keller to keep Ad Hoc permanent with Cruz leading the team.
Under Cruz’s helm, Ad Hoc received a 3-star rating from the San Francisco Chronicle and was included in the publication’s annual list of “Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants” each year he was there. In collaboration with Keller, he co-authored “Ad Hoc at Home”, a cookbook that included the stories and favorite recipes from the restaurant. The title won both James Beard and IACP awards and appeared on the New York Times Best-Seller list for 7 weeks.
Cruz has been featured in Food & Wine, O, The Oprah Magazine, and Wine Spectator among many other publications. His TV appearances include stints on the Cooking Channel , Food Network, The Today Show, The Early Show, and Martha Stewart.
“We are fortunate in the Bay Area to have so many outlets and avenues right at our fingertips to acquire ingredients (even the best ones), these days. At Little Gem, it is an absolute imperative for vendors we work with to not only be able to provide those great ingredients, but also couple that availability with amazing service; service, that is personal, understands our specific needs, and is not restrictive. Pacific Gourmet matches in every category.” – Dave Cruz