If name-dropping were part of chef David Patterson's MO, he could do it with ease.
Patterson was an executive sous chef under famed chef Alain Ducasse for nine years. He worked his way up to executive sous chef at the prestigious Maisonette in Cincinnati - a restaurant that held Mobil Travel Guide's longest-running (42 consecutive years) five-star rating. In 2012, he joined The Broadmoor resort after executive chef Bertrand Bouquin recruited him to be the executive sous chef.
The modest, soft-spoken Kentucky native was promoted to executive chef at The Broadmoor in late June. Patterson says he is humbled to be only the sixth executive chef at the resort since it opened in 1918 - and probably the youngest, at age 40.
In this position, he will oversee the resort's 10 diverse restaurants, including the Penrose Room, Colorado's only Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond restaurant. An additional 10 cafés and lounges also fall under Patterson's supervision.
"I do feel young for the position," he said. "I can't forget where I came from. I'm a cook and want to keep engaged with the chefs. My obligation is to inspire, not do so much sitting in an office."
Patterson, who grew up in Louisville, credits his parents for his love of food.
"My parents enjoyed eating good food at home and especially at restaurants," he said. "They would drive us (him and two brothers) to Chicago on weekends to eat at nice restaurants. My mother made meals from her garden, and we always had breakfast and dinner together at the table."
His grandparents were influential, too.
"Even if we had just had a big meal, when we walked into my mom's parents' home, we'd have to sit down and eat something," he said. "They would not take no. My grandfather had an enormous garden. They would can food, make pickles and store food in the root basement - a tradition that is still carried on."
But Patterson didn't focus on becoming a chef. He earned a bachelor's degree in industrial sociology from the University of Kentucky in 1999 while working at Mad Mushroom Pizza. It was there, he said, that he "fell in love with cooking."
"After graduation, I moved back home to look for a real job. Immediately my dad suggested going to culinary school," he said.
He attended the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vt., graduating No. 1 in his class in 2001.
Then he landed a job as a lunch sautée cook at the Striped Bass, an upscale fish and seafood eatery in Philadelphia. Within eight months, Bertrand Bouquin, executive chef at the Maisonette, called the culinary institute looking for a chef de partie (station chef). Patterson was recommended.
"During the course of my tenure at Maisonette, I was able to train and learn, working my way through all stations of the kitchen before my eventual promotion to tournant (a chef who rotates from station to station)," Patterson said. "In July of 2003, I was promoted to executive sous chef."
When the Maisonette closed in 2004, a Passport Resorts hotel in Hana, Hawaii, hired Patterson as executive chef. He oversaw all aspects of food and beverage operations, training and supervising a culinary and steward team of 40. While there, he passed on his family's farm traditions.
He started and maintained a network of local, sustainable farmers and fishermen to supply three dining outlets. His culinary team held the first "Hana - A Reflection of Place" food festival. It focused on sustainable farming and fishing practices, with participation from an international culinary community. This has become an annual event. He also hosted "A Taste of Maui" at the prestigious James Beard House in 2006.
But it was time for a breather - and to take a shot at a long-awaited dream: a sabbatical to research and discover the culinary traditions of Asia and parts of the Middle East. From November 2007 to May 2008, he traveled to South Korea, China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Egypt and Jordan.
A month after his return, he began his nine years with Groupe Alain Ducasse as executive sous chef. He helped open Adour at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, D.C. Ducasse invited him to stage (i.e., work without pay for experience) at the company's restaurants in France and Monaco. He became executive sous chef at Ducasse's flagship Adour Alain Ducasse in New York City before joining The Broadmoor in 2012.
Asked about his rapid progression to mostly top jobs, Patterson says, "I like to align myself with excellence. I've always wanted to be with the best people in the industry."