"I cook here at the restaurant, and I cook for catering. I run a restaurant, but I cook," said Chef David Kirkland, owner of Turn restaurant.
The restaurant is located at 3224 Locust St., close to St. Louis University. David reflected on the circular journey that brought him back to the area where he grew up. "I spent the first half of my life in North St. Louis, and it's nice to come home to work in the area I grew up. My family moved from the city to Webster on Lorraine Davis in the late 1970s, so I bleed orange and black. But now I support the red because we live in Kirkwood, and my daughter goes to Kirkwood High," said David. "Webster and Kirkwood are the same to me; they are both great schools."
The chef took time out of the kitchen to share his latest brunch creation and to reflect on the past five years as the owner of Turn and David Kirkland Catering.
"At the end of the day, yes, it's David Kirkland Catering, and Turn restaurant is my idea and concept," David said. "But it wouldn't happen without everyone in the kitchen helping. I'm incredibly proud of the team that I've built." He added, "I'm proud that we made it for the last five years—through a pandemic. I'm proud that my clientele is so diverse. There is always an interesting variety of people here: artists, musicians, Black people, Jewish people, and Catholic people from SLU."
Turn opened in 2017, but David was a well-known chef and caterer working in St. Louis and San Francisco restaurants.
"I've cooked all my life. I watched my grandmother and mom cook and learned a lot. I worked in the restaurant industry to help pay for college. My degree is in finance, but I hated it. I wanted to work in the restaurant business," stated David. "After college, I moved to San Francisco to attend cooking school," said David. To help pay bills, he spent several years as a resident D.J. in some of the Bay Area's most hoppin' clubs.
In 2005, David moved back to St. Louis with an idea. "I always had this idea of making my jams and biscuits, so when I opened Turn, the first thing I put on my menu was a jam and biscuit flight. I make a traditional buttermilk biscuit and then add three other biscuit flavors that change with the seasons."
David's other iconic menu item is the L.E.O. "The L.E.O. is a play on my father-in-law's dish that he serves after Yom Kippur. He scrambles lox, eggs, and onions. I wanted to elevate it for the restaurant, so I make it with goat cheese, capers, caramelized onions, poached eggs, salmon, and hollandaise sauce on rye bread," David said. "It gives you this sweet and salty flavor combination."
Turn restaurant offers delicious, health-centered, comfort brunch food in a beautiful space drenched in sunlight. "This building, now owned by Ken and Nancy Kranzberg, used to be a Cadillac car showroom. That's why the windows are so big," explained David. To hide a large garage door on one wall, David's wife, Stephanie, had a friend build an enormous frame that holds 72 album covers. The covers are changed out twice a year. "Stephanie does an outstanding job of color-grading the wall with the album cover art. All the albums are mine. I have a problem," smiled David.
Turn is a summation of every aspect of the word. "If you look closely, the letter T in our logo is actually a tonearm on a record player. And then you think about a D.J.'s turntable, and turning tables in a restaurant and turning seasons because I change the menu with subtle nuances according to the seasons," stated David.
He's a remarkable seasonal chef who is phenomenal at making your experience at Turn memorable.
"When you are in Turn, it's my living room, and I want you to feel at home," said David warmly.