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Meet the Nominees: Chef David Posey and Pastry Chef Dana Cree of Blackbird, 2014 James Beard Award Finalists

Learn the story behind Blackbird Restaurant in Chicago, where Chef David Posey and Pastry Chef Dana Cree are both finalists for 2014 James Beard Awards.


Blackbird in Chicago is honored to have two of their chefs acknowledged with James Beard Award Nominations. Chef de Cuisine David Posey is a finalist for the 2014 Rising Star Chef Award. Chef Dana Cree is a finalist for the 2014 Oustanding Pastry Chef award.

Blackbird619 West Randolph, Chicago, IL312.715.0708www.blackbirdrestaurant.com

Blackbird Chef de Cuisine David Posey

Chef David Posey’s first attempt at cooking came at the age of ten, when he began experimenting under the guidance of his mother. "I was a little chubby kid, so I wanted to learn how to make my own snacks," he says. Growing up, the California native was drawn to the creative aspects of cooking and music, spending time in and out of school pursuing both.

With his mother’s encouragement, Posey took a kitchen job at a local restaurant during his sophomore year in high school. Although pay was minimal, Posey enjoyed theresponsibility and pressure, eventually working his way into to a full-time position. The experience was pivotal, as it cemented his interest the in culinary field.

After high school, Posey attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. His introduction to Chicago came via an externship at Trio, where Posey worked under then-Executive Chef Offer: 1592406971 Grant Achatz, who he credits for instilling an attention to detail. Drawn to Achatz’ boundary-pushing cuisine, Posey returned to Chicago to work at Alinea, where he held positions in pastry and as Garde Manger.

In 2007, Posey left Alinea for Blackbird. Starting as a line cook, Posey worked his way through each kitchen position, becoming Chef de Cuisine in 2011. Nominated for Rising Star Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2013, Posey has come into his own as Blackbird’s Chef de Cuisine using simple farm-fresh ingredients and cutting-edge culinary technology to create a menu both highly creative and utterly approachable.

Pastry Chef Dana Cree

A Seattle native, Dana Cree began her culinary journey in 2000, studying at The Art Institute of Seattle. Cree first worked in the savory side of the kitchen for three years at Seattle’s Lampreia, before heeding her pastry calling. After a lengthy stage at The Fat Duck, in Bray, England, in early 2005, Cree returned to Seattle and assumed the role of Pastry Chef at Eva. There she honed her flavor-focused and detail oriented style.

Cree spent several highly influential weeks staging with Alex Stupak at WD-50, in New York. Upon returning to Seattle, she took the helm at Veil. It was there that she explored modernist technique in a fine dining setting, putting to use lessons learned at WD-50 and The Fat Duck.

When Veil closed in 2008, Cree joined the opening team at Poppy. There she continued to refine and focus her concepts, crafting exciting accessible plates, fit for the high-volume setting. Her work at Poppy earned her recognition from StarChefs, who presented her with a Rising Star award in 2009.

Cree left Seattle in 2010, and after a stage at Noma, in Copenhagen, she returned to the States to work at Alinea in Chicago. There she learned to push the boundaries of possibility. Later that year Cree found herself back in Denmark as the Pastry Chef at Kadeau restaurant, on the island of Bornholm. There she immersed herself in Baltic products, and a New Nordic minimalist style.

When Kadeau closed for the harsh Scandinavian winter, Cree returned to the States,positioning herself under the tutelage of Sherry Yard at Spago Beverly Hills. There she revisited classic techniques, and learned to foster strong relationships with area farmers.

Cree returned to Chicago in 2012, where she now draws on her broad range of experiences as the Pastry Chef at Blackbird and avec. Nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2014, her thoughtful, nuanced and resoundingly delicious desserts perfectly culminate the divergent dining experiences of both restaurants.

Content Courtesy of One Off Hospitality


Published April 10th, 2014