• Certified Executive Pastry Chef, American Culinary Federation

Professional Achievements

  • Competitor’s Choice Award at 2013 Pastry Live Competition
  • Gold Medal in 2011 – Food Network Extreme Candy Carnival
  • Gold Medal in 2006 – National Bread and Pastry Team Championship
  • Silver Medal – Food Network Extreme Candy Coaster
  • Gold Medal – Food Network Sugar Destinations
  • Silver Medal – Western Regional ACF Pastry Chef of the Year
  • Silver Medal in 2009 – National Pastry Team Championship
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The newest addition to Arizona Culinary Institute’s impressive roster of chef instructors is Chef David Smoake. A graduate from Scottsdale Culinary Institute, Smoake had decided in the 9th grade that he wanted to be a chef after learning that cooking was a necessity, both practical and fun. He became a pastry chef at the age of 25 and says, “I was younger than most of my staff, and it took earning their respect through making awesome desserts and using proper techniques to teach them that experience is more important than age. That was probably the biggest challenge I faced.” Teaching is nothing new to the accomplished chef.

Smoake taught at Le Cordon Bleu for 14 years and says of the difference between teaching and cooking, “As a chef you’re always teaching because things need to be done and presented in a certain way.” Among his favorite dishes he has created, he chooses the Chocolate Caramel Ginger Entremet due to the contrasting textures and flavors, and Caramelized Onion and Thyme Specialty Bread because “anything with caramelized onions is amazing.”

His favorite part of being in the kitchen is having the ability to change what we eat by replacing a flavor with another, adding a new ingredient, or even changing the way it is presented. Smoake’s long list of accomplishments include gold and silver medals from various competitions ranging from Food Network dessert competitions to the National Bread and Pastry team Championships, which he says his gold medal win in 2006 is among one of his biggest accomplishments. “I had no competition experience going into that, so it was huge for me to win the gold medal. I remember being extremely intimidated because I was looking at my competitor’s backgrounds. One chef had won a Guinness Book world record for a sugar piece, and the others had lots of competition experience.”

His wife is an accomplished pastry chef as well, but Smoake says that he does most of the cooking at home. “I love putting good food in front of her because she works hard and she deserves it. I would do anything for that woman.” When he’s not in the kitchen, Chef Smoake enjoys activities that mostly revolve around water. “Whitewater rafting, camping, fishing, or anything else near or on the water is where I usually end up on the weekends.”

When asked what advice he would give to aspiring chefs, “It’s important to stay humble and learn from your mistakes. I love teaching because I get to see that lightbulb go on and see the learning that takes place.” ACI is thrilled to have Chef Smoake in our faculty, and we are looking forward to the wonderful education he will provide to our incoming students.