Chef David Quintana is a well-respected culinary expert who is known for his inventive cuisine and creative use of unfamiliar ingredients. With experience ranging from working in a swanky Michelin Star restaurant to teaching chef-driven college courses, he’s faced all facets of the cooking world. Currently, Quintana leads the kitchen as Executive Chef at distinguished Charlotte speakeasy Dot Dot Dot.
Quintana spent most of his young adult years in Waxhaw, NC and began his career working as a dishwasher for Raintree Country Club. There he found a passion for cooking, as the kitchen staff would urge him to make his own meals and be resourceful.
“I would ask them to make me something to eat and they would encourage me to make it myself. I then realized I didn’t want to wash dishes anymore.”
As he transitioned into a young chef, Quintana stayed close to his country club roots and had the opportunity to work with several seasoned professionals.
After 10 years of working his way up the kitchen ranks, Quintana decided to sign up for an official culinary education. He enrolled at Johnson and Wales in Charlotte, ultimately graduating with his Associates Degree in Culinary Arts in 2008.
Quintana had a busy final year at school: a newborn son arrived in July and a three-month internship started in August at WD50 in New York City. His day-to-day was filled to the brim. “It was a hard decision to leave in August, but I knew this was going to benefit me and my family in the long run,” noted Quintana. As a result of his experiences in New York, he was hired at Four Moons in South Carolina. Within six months, he was awarded the position of Executive Chef and gained a AAA Four Diamond Award within his first year. He maintained it his second year as well.
It was while working a robust schedule at Four Moons that Quintana and his son’s mother decided to split ways. Upon gaining full custody of their energetic toddler, Kobe, he decided to move back to Charlotte so they could be near his family.
Because restaurant hours were not an easy option for a single father, Quintana decided to find a happy medium between his culinary passion and devotion to raising his son. Insert Providence Preparatory School here. “I got there at 6am with my kid, everyday. I cooked breakfast, lunch and a snack for 150 children. I made cookies, muffins… everything from scratch,” mentioned Quintana. It was here that he met his current wife, Courtney, who was teaching preschool classes. Quintana stayed at Providence Prep until his son was ready to start Kindergarten.
Moving on, an opportunity was presented to him from Horry Georgetown Technical College in Myrtle Beach, SC. The school was in the middle of rebuilding its culinary facilities and wanted David to help modernize the curriculum and campus restaurant. He jumped on board immediately and moved to the beach with his son, wife, and their newborn daughter.
“I had every gadget, toy and equipment in the world that any chef would want to work with. However, I had the task of doing it all with students who were just learning how to cook. Prior to this position, I was a Hell’s Kitchen chef. This job definitely taught me how to be more patient,” reminisced Quintana. “You need to have a good delivery with students and know what you’re talking about. If you fumbled on your words or didn’t teach in a convincing manner, they’d smell blood in the water and attack. I did a lot of my own studying and reading, and this position really helped me become a better chef… a better person.”
After three years of renovating the culinary curriculum and restaurant, it was time for David to move back to Charlotte.
Upon returning to the Queen City in the middle of 2017, Quintana was pleased to see Piedmont Culinary Guild had blossomed into a full service professional organization – including an online forum where chefs, farmers, food artisans, and other culinary professionals could communicate with and support each other.
An Inland Seafood rep saw David on their virtual forum and reached out regarding the Executive Chef position with Dot Dot Dot. “I was told that they lost their chef right before opening, so I took the opportunity to meet with Conrad, Stefan and Stephen so I could hear more about the concept and position,” expressed Quintana. “My first day was on August 1. They had already been open for about two weeks so I didn’t want to make any changes right away. It was a legit menu, but nowhere near my style. Fast forward several months and the offerings now reflect what I’m passionate about. Things are consistent and we have 7000+ members.”
The value of a PCG Professional membership solidified for Quintana a few months ago. His Sous Chef was deported and he was left with nearly no support staff. “We were a new business and running on a skeleton crew,” expressed Quintana. “I texted (PCG Executive Director) Kris Reid and asked for help. She posted it on the PCG Members Group and within hours I had over 30 responses. Basically, within 24 hours of my guy leaving, I had the help I needed.”
Quintana’s menu does not solely focus on local availability. Rather, he is 100% committed to quality.
“I’m more produce-driven when it comes to using local ingredients. I don’t take shortcuts or buy certain ingredients to save money. I’m quality-driven.”
“I also focus on plating. For me, I literally draw my dish out on paper. I use color pencils and say what’s going to be red or where there will be a pop of green,” he further explains. Quintana will take more than a month, if needed, to perfect a dish before any guest even sees it. He takes the utmost pride when ensuring that each menu item has the right texture, color and taste.
Quintana’s vast experience has earned him local and regional recognition when it comes to revamping classic entrées into modern masterpieces. His individuality, dedication, and passion are clearly tasted in his flavor profile choices and seen in his final presentation.
Chef. Teacher. Innovator. David Quintana embodies what Piedmont Culinary Guild is all about.
Profile written by Jessica Bentley, Slice of Jess
Dot Dot Dot
4237 Park Rd
Charlotte, NC 28209