As the executive chef at the Smith restaurant in Burton, the 39-year-old is working to redefine the way we gather around the dinner table. Burke’s Southern-style menu includes a special Sunday supper with shareable three-course dinner. The father of two also started a nonprofit alongside his wife, Joy, in January that brings local chefs together to cook for a collective cause.
Smoke House: The Smith’s in-house smoker can hold more than 125 pounds of pork at a time, but in addition to ribs, chicken and beef brisket, Burke smokes oil, butter, pesto, sea salt and sweet potatoes to bring out a diverse range of flavor profiles. “I like to use smoke as a replacement for salt in a lot of the stuff we do,” he says. “I like the earthiness and the richness you can get.”
Sunday Funday: Every Sunday, more than three generations of family flock to Burke’s mother-in-law’s house for a shared supper. The weekly gathering sparked a movement in Burke’s own restaurant. Sundays from noon to 6 p.m., families can share dishes such as smoked chicken and spaetzle noodles with sides and a rotating list of cobblers and pies for $16 per person. “It was a great way to recharge at the end of a week and it’s a great way for me to reconnect. I’m trying to pass that need and that want onto others.”
Collaborate and Listen: Those same family values inspired the start of Revival Social Dinner. Burke and his wife team up with other chefs such as Flour’s Matt Mytro and Sol’s Michael Schoen to host charitable dinner gatherings to raise money for organizations such as the Refugee Response and Northcoast Community Homes. “The only way change ever begins is on the smallest level possible,” he says. “I think food has a way to heal.”