We always grew up as big musical fans, and we’re lucky enough this week to be having our very own theater week, celebrating some of the amazing performers starring in all the spring shows. Up today is our newest man crush – David Burtka – who leads a family of foodies, sings in the shower and – starting tomorrow night – on Broadway in It Shoulda Been You.
When Burtka is offstage, he’s stealing La Mer night cream from husband Neil Patrick Harris, whose weird habits and off-the-charts bartending skills he spilled to us between bites. While their son Gideon loves octopus, their daughter Harper does miso and oysters and their go-to car song is Wrecking Ball. Seriously…can we road trip with these people?
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
Okay, if I could eat like a crazy person all day this is how it would go: Breakfast would be two poached duck eggs on grilled artisan country bread drizzled with olive oil and sea salt. Then to finish it off, shaved white truffle on top. To accompany, a mimosa with fresh-squeezed orange juice. For lunch, as an appetizer, freshly caught fish – maybe fluke – sliced with olive oil and lemon. Then a tagliatelle with homemade Bolognese (made by Mario Batali), a fresh green salad with all the produce picked from my garden and a lovely fresh apple dressing (see Joe Beef cookbook). Then a scoop or three of chocolate Haagen-Dazs peanut butter ice cream. For dinner, I’d start with the Kale Three Ways Salad from Hinoki and the Bird (a brilliant restaurant in L.A.), then a fresh rib eye with a dry porcini rub grilled medium rare, drizzled with expensive balsamic vinegar from Modena. Side dishes would be roasted potatoes cooked in duck fat and rosemary, and fresh green and yellow Romano beans cooked in an orange beurre blanc. For dessert, a chocolate peanut butter mousse pie. I seem to love chocolate and peanut butter, don’t I…?
Your favorite part about being a dad…
Spending time with my kids! They are everything to me. I love hearing their laughter and seeing them grow as individuals.
Do you often cook dinner for your kids and husband? What are your go-tos?
I cook for them a ton! I make ceviche and grilled fish a lot. We eat clams and mussels at least once a week, and I make a lot of sous vide proteins like pork chops, chicken, and fish to take out of the freezer in the morning and sear. I always have poached shrimp and blanched vegetables on hand. We also make tacos and quesadillas as a go-to.
Any last minute words you and Neil give one another when you go onstage? What are they?
Have a good show, nail it, and most important — have fun!
What do you two like to ‘couple cook?’
We don’t often cook as a couple…If anything Neil is more of the bartender and I am the chef. If we are having people over, I take care of food and he takes care of drinks. He will usually start off with a cocktail first or even a punch for parties and then pick wines that pair well with the food. However, he is a great sous chef when I need him. He’s great at plating, finishing touches and he ices cupcakes like a pro!
Are your kids foodies now too? How so?
OMG! My kids are crazy eaters. They have incredible palates. Gideon eats everything you put in front of him. His passion for cooking and eating good food is in his soul. His favorite foods: Clams, sushi, octopus, grilled pork, steak, Parmesan cheese, ginger, mint, cinnamon and coconut. Harper likes very strong and briny flavors. Some of her favorites: Oysters, sardines, prosciutto, capers, duck liver, miso, and anything chocolate.
Excited about the new Broadway show? What’s been your favorite moment in rehearsals?
Probably getting back into the industry. It’s been so long since I’ve done a Broadway show. My favorite moment could be the audience, the laughter, or the applause, but it’s probably the camaraderie of the cast bonding.
Are you the ‘sing in the shower’ type? If so, what are your go-to songs, and does it drive your family crazy or do they love it?
I do sing in the shower. Lately it’s been me warming up my voice for rehearsal and going over new lyrics and song changes. When I am not rehearsing I like to sing standards, like Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin. However, belting out a Katy Perry song is always fun too. It really does not drive my family crazy. We are all singers and we are all constantly singing. Whether it’s car trips or morning breakfast we all join along. My kids go-to song is Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus. I have no idea where they heard it in the first place…
Food and drink spots in Times Square that ‘aren’t so square’…
French: DB Bistro Moderne
Your favorite food and drink spots in Harlem…
Best and worst foods for vocals…
Best foods: Pineapple, apple, hot water with lemon and lots of water.
Worst foods: Brown liquor, beer and wine, high sugar foods, and anything with sugar and a lot of yeast like processed carbs.
Where do you love to travel? What’s been your most memorable trip so far?
Before the kids were born, Neil and I took a month-long trip all over Italy. We started at the top in Lake Como and zigzagged our way down the country. It was epic.
Your most memorable date ever with your husband and why…
Probably the first date we ever had. It was a Monday and we both had the day off from our shows. We met for lunch at a coffee shop, saw the movie Taking Lives, and then had dinner at 44 & X. It wasn’t the most unique date (in terms of what we did) but I just remembering having so much fun. The conversation flowed and he made me laugh. I remember thinking to myself, “This is a guy I could spend the rest of my life with!”
Most annoying advice parents give other parents…
I hate it when I ask my parents not to do something regarding my kids and they say “I did it with you and you turned out fine.”
What’s your personal grooming routine?
When I take a shower, I usually use the men’s Big Bar Soap from Kiehl’s. I use the Kiehl’s Non-Foaming Cleanser on my face. As for moisturizers, I love the Murad Matte Oil Control Moisturizer and at bedtime I tend to steal Neil’s Moisturizing Soft Cream from La Mer and his Night Recovery Oil from Kiehl’s.
If you could start any blog on the planet, what would it be about?
Cooking with kids!
If your husband was to name your oddest habit what would it be, and visa versa?
He’d probably say that I chew at my fingers when I’m stressed. Not the nails, the actual skin around my fingers. His oddest habit I think would be being the ultimate multi-tasker. It has its ups and downs. He starts many little jobs around the house but does not usually finish, so there are half-done jobs around the house.
What are your favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?
Oh wow! I do love me some food.
Just to name a few…
In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ in fashion, what’s the new potato right now?
So here are the things I think are the new black (to me). In fashion, lapel pins. A bit of flair, yet subtle. In art, Kehinde Wiley. He’s a genius. In food, whole roasted chickens – heads and feet attached. St. Anselm in Williamsburg is surreal. In drinks, Orange wine. It’s like rosé wine, but more interesting. In fitness, AKT. The most intense, dance-based workout I’ve ever done. Never sweated more in my life. In design, gold. It’s the new silver. In TV, Neil’s new variety show on NBC. It’s going to be huge. And I’m not just saying that because he’s reading over my shoulder right now…
*David Burtka, photographed at Babbo in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann.