A native of Minnesota, Chef David Nelson attributes restlessness for steering him in a culinary direction. Easily bored by jobs without challenge and by the
college classroom, he found the stimulation he needed in the restaurant business. A stint in the army and then a culinary arts degree from the Art Institute
of Seattle eventually led his career to Naples. He started in 2006 as developmental chef for Truluck’s Seafood, Steak & Crab House, and later oversaw the kitchen at Avenue5 before it closed. Nelson’s latest position as executive chef of Timeless—An MHK Eatery, which opened in August, is his “dream job.” The architecturally stunning, glass-wrapped restaurant features a display kitchen and pizzeria, a bar and an attached bakery that together offer diverse styles of dining. Nelson says he’s excited about creating a new brand of pizza using dough from its bakery, and introducing even more progressive techniques, such as sous vide and other modern cooking methods to Timeless.
Circle of influence: My grandmother was a major cook in a small town in Wisconsin. She had her own garden, and it was amazing what kind of food she could put out of this tiny kitchen.
Childhood craving: Definitely pasta with a cream sauce. I think I was 16 years old when I made my
first fettucine alfredo, trying to impress a girl. It worked!
Aha moment: While in the military, I worked in kitchens. When I was 23, I took the army’s advanced culinary course and made consommé and chicken cordon bleu. I was fascinated by the process.
His muse: I need music while I’m working. Silence drives me mad. I like to listen to bluesy R&B women when I’m prepping, and more aggressive music like Green Day or Foo Fighters when I’m cooking. At Timeless we have an open kitchen, so we’ll be listening to whatever is playing in the dining room.
What inspires him: I’m a big cookbook nerd. I also like to go out to eat to see what other chefs are doing. But having great ingredients at hand is the best inspiration.
Favorite ingredient: Citrus. I use it in just about in everything, even if it’s just a squeeze of lemon juice. It can bring out flavors so much better than salt or anything else.