You won’t find David Rashty manning a traditional restaurant kitchen these days. He strikes an interesting culinary balance between creating artful four-course meals on yachts and preparing food for sustenance in field kitchens during natural disasters.
The hospitality business was not Rashty’s original career path; he came to his culinary career in 2006, when he took on the job of caring for his terminally ill father. “I was cooking for him every day, and he said you have to do something with this,” Rashty remembers. When his father passed away, Rashty went to the French Culinary Institute (now International Culinary Center) in New York. His background in science was ideal for the molecular gastronomy craze that many sophisticated restaurants were embracing at the time.
Now, Rashty’s résumé holds the names of respected two- and three-star Michelin restaurants, and he’s worked alongside renowned chefs, including Masa Takayama, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud, and Michael Schwartz.
Free of a traditional kitchen, Rashty uses his gourmet culinary talents through his Yacht Series dinners. Partnering with boat owners whose vessels stay docked much of the year, he creates excursions incorporating wine, sake, and whiskey dinners—and more.
“It’s something no one else is doing,” he says. “And it’s a lot of fun.”
Several years ago, on the east coast of Florida, Rashty became involved with feeding victims of disasters, from hurricanes to fires. This led to a position with the American Red Cross disaster assistance team.
Following Hurricane Ian, the classically trained chef was instrumental in the massive effort to feed Southwest Floridians, helping to coordinate hundreds of thousands of meals without power and amongst hurricane debris. But taking care of people is in Rashty’s blood. From the north shore of Long Island, he worked as a paramedic through college and draws on that experience when serving disaster victims.
“Seeing what we saw on the islands—Sanibel, Captiva, Fort Myers Beach—was so sad,” he says. “But food is a great way to help people and to give comfort, even to those who had nothing.”
It’s the best of both worlds for the chef. While he gets to create beautiful meals with the finest ingredients for those with discerning palates, he also feeds those who simply need food to survive.
“I know it makes a difference; I can see it makes a difference,” he notes. Rashty says there is a common thread that ties us all together: “Food is our medicine.”