With roots in the deep south, Chef Burnette began his career in the kitchen at age 15 making pizzas and sandwiches in his hometown of Richmond,VA. Over the next several years, while pursuing other interests, Chef Burnette continually found himself back in the restaurant industry, following a similar pattern that would begin in the front of the house and end in the kitchen.
Jobs with national chains both in the south (Battleground Restaurant Group) and in his adopted home of New York City (Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Dave and Buster’s) lead to experience in every position in the restaurant as well as trainer positions that allowed him to open over 20 restaurants. After four years, he was recruited to be the General Manager at the Cobalt Room and subsequently some of New York’s other finest lounges including Bar and Books, The Carnegie Club and Galapagos Art Space.
In the cooking field, Chef Burnette served stage all over Manhattan before landing a job as a prep cook for Chef William Hickox in his new Lower Manhattan gastropub, Mary Queen of Scots. After opening the restaurant and a successful year learning a proper French foundation, Burnette followed Chef Hickox when he departed for Del Posto to become its senior sous chef.
Working under Chef Mark Ladner, the Executive Chef at Del Posto, Burnette blossomed quickly.
Starting initially as a commi, he was promoted quickly into a chef de partie position, with responsibility for shopping daily at the green market in Union Square. This experience left an indelible mark on Chef Burnette’s vision of food. He has since become a tireless researcher and student of the chefs that came before him.
Following an interview on Charlie Rose with Chef Sean Brock (Husk Restaurant), Chef Burnette wrote asking for a job and one week later, was in Charleston working at Husk. The experience at Husk gave Chef Burnette the learning environment he needed to develop the creative skills and ideas for which he has become known. His sharp-focused vision is centered on the use of the finest quality produce and ingredients and treating them with the utmost respect and care. Further, his dedication and commitment to partnerships with farmers is a central tenant of his beliefs. It is his mission to rediscover the flavors of our country, particularly the South, that were lost to the industrialization of agriculture, combining both historically-accurate food with avant garde cooking techniques.
Chef Burnette was Sous Chef and Chef at The Bar at Husk in Charleston SC, Bon Appetite magazine’s Best New American Restaurant 2011 and a restaurant listed on Esquire Magazine’s “Top 10 Restaurants to Eat In Before You Die.” While in these positions, he wrote menus, ran service and created dishes for festivals and national television.
During this time, Chef Burnette worked and traveled extensively with Chef Sean Brock, the Executive Chef and creative force behind Husk, who received James Beard award nominations 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012-2015.
Chef Burnette returned to his adopted home of NYC to act as Executive Sous Chef for April Bloomfield’s empire flagship “The Breslin.” He assumed the reigns of The Ace Hotel’s two restaurants, lobby dining, room service, and event catering. Working with Head Chef Christina Lecki, Chef Burnette gained invaluable experience running such a complex involved business while maintaining an active schedule supporting chef Bloomfield’s travel and defending Michelin Stars.
After 2 years the opportunity came to design, build and operate the food lab at Greenpoint darling of innovation, Glasserie. BIN 5, as his lab became known, was a chance to unleash creativity and delve into research both historical and modernist, while producing all new work for the formidable Chef Eldad Shem Tov. Having a stand-alone food lab and tasked with nothing but creation was an opportunity to allow imagination to run wild while constantly learning both new and old techniques to fuel this award-winning restaurant.
At the end of this creative time Chef Burnette was offered the perfect opportunity to incorporate all of his ideas in a very special project. Butterfield at Hasbrouk House in the Catskill Mountains, where Chef Burnette would become Chef/Partner, afforded the opportunity to incorporate all of his learning, knowledge and passions under his sole direction for the first time. The work at Butterfield included accurately restoring and operating a 300 year old smokehouse, narrowing product sourcing to a 25 mile radius, growing and raising much of the produce for the restaurant with the target of a 100% closed system, as well as building a restaurant from the ground up. This project is still a spot of pride and honor to many in the Hudson Valley and garnered intense praise during the project life.
Chef currently tours extensively with his overfire cooking company and is in production on a pilot for a show about the history behind cooking.