Life is uncertain: Eat dessert first
The presence of a pastry chef is one of the signs that a restaurant has “arrived.” But with all the ice cream dippers, caramel corn caramelizers and chocolate drizzlers here at the beach, full-time pastry chefs are few and far between. After all, seasonal competition is hard enough without having one guy (or girl) totally dedicated to nothing but squiggly things made out of sugar. But this is Rehoboth Beach, and we answer to a higher authority! So good desserts are a must.
That’s where Chef Dru Tevis comes in. This young toque has certainly made a name for himself here in the Nation’s Summer Capital, and even if you rarely dine east of the circle, you’ve probably enjoyed some of his creations, as he has graced kitchens both here and in New York City.
Like many of us, a somewhat-younger-than-he-is-now Dru vacationed here and associated great memories with our sand and surf. So, before embarking on an anticipated film/video program at The American University in Washington, D.C., he spent the summer of 2009 working for Glenda Adkins at Blue restaurant on The Avenue (used to be Taste and is now Cilantro).
He was pinch-hitting as both server and bartender during Restaurant Week when a position became available (that’s restaurant-speak for “somebody didn’t show up”) and he found himself whippin’ up desserts. As Blue’s jack-of-all-trades, he never had a free moment. “The more pressure there was, the more I loved it,” he tells me. “I thrive on the rush.” Oops - what’s that sound!? Oh, it’s Dru’s film career fading away. And let’s face it; we can survive without one movie more or less, but fresh, handmade desserts? Well, that’s another story.
Tevis had a knack for his craft, but he knew he needed to fill in some blanks with formal education. So, he left The American University in a cloud of powdered sugar and enrolled in the French Culinary Institute in New York City, joining such notable alumni as TV chef/restaurateur Bobby Flay and New York molecular gastronomist/“Top Chef” participant Wylie Dufresne. Our youthful upstart was a hot item in the Big Apple, and he quickly landed a position at the hoity-toity Momofuku Milk Bar.
Tevis maintained ties with Rehoboth by applying his newfound skills to the dessert menus at Blue, Cloud 9 and Hobos. “In New York, I worked under highly skilled chefs at Momofuku, and then I got to put that knowledge into my own creations here in Rehoboth. It was the best of both worlds.”
After a stint as pastry chef at The Dutch restaurant in New York, Tevis traveled to Italy, London and Paris for specialized cooking classes. But he missed his full-time life in Rehoboth Beach. So, using Chocolate Festival 2012 as an excuse, he joined Rob Stitt at Shorebreak Lodge on Wilmington Avenue. Stitt had opened the original Eden (ironically, in the space later occupied by Blue). Shorebreak customers loved the new pastry chef’s palm fruit cinnamon curry donuts.
Dru eventually joined chef/co-owner Lion Gardner at Blue Moon where they kept the customers smiling at the legendary Baltimore Avenue eatery. But that kitchen door swings both ways (especially here at the beach), and just a few weeks ago Dru joined forces with one of Rehoboth’s newest restaurants, Bramble & Brine.
The combination of the classically trained Tevis and self-taught kitchen savant Joe Churchman will be unbeatable there in the fourth block of Rehoboth Avenue. By the way, Dru also has a special affection for the diminutive yet delicious Modern Mixture, so look for occasional guest appearances in the ocean block of Rehoboth Avenue, where he will match his creative desserts to owner Leo Cabrera’s tasty menu. It’s a win-win for everybody. All of these talented guys love what they do, and you can taste it in every course - including dessert.
Bob Yesbek is a serial foodie and can be reached at email@example.com.