Dru Tevis: Life Is Uncertain. Eat Dessert First
Rehoboth resident Dru Tevis had it all figured out. He was on track for a career in film; having earned his degree in communications from New York University. Everything was falling into place: He was now enrolled at The American University in Washington, D.C. to begin his master’s program in film and video. From there, the sky was the limit.
To celebrate his impending move to the Nation’s Capital, Tevis spent the summer of ’09 in Rehoboth Beach. Like many of us, he had vacationed here as a child, and associated great memories with our little beach town. His new memories were even better— including the freedom to be himself. And he loved all the restaurants. So what better way to spend the summer than to ensconce himself smack in the middle of Rehoboth Avenue, serving the public in a busy eatery?
What he didn’t anticipate was how much fun it would be to work for Glenda Adkins at Blue restaurant. Pinch-hitting as both server and bartender, he loved being at a place where he could, without hesitation, ask his customers, “Well, how did you like it?” and know that the answer would include a satisfied smile. Things just kept getting better: During Rehoboth’s annual Restaurant Week, one thing led to another (that’s restaurant code for “somebody didn’t show up”) and he found himself in the kitchen making desserts. And people loved them.
Full-time pastry chefs are few and far between here at the beach, given all the candy makers, popcorn poppers, taffy pullers and ice cream dippers. So when he wasn’t whippin’ up something sweet and fluffy back in the kitchen, he was handling the managerial side of Blue’s front-of-house (more code for “where the customers chow down”). “The more pressure there was, the more I loved it. I thrive on the rush.” Hear that sound? Yup, that’s Dru’s film career fading away.
When he stepped into the dessert-maker role as a full-time pastry chef, he knew he was home. Everybody loved his creativity, but Tevis wisely recognized that he needed to fill in some blanks with formal culinary education. So he went back to New York—this time to the famed French Culinary Institute. This is no two-bit outfit; notable alumni include TV chef and restaurateur Bobby Flay, and New York chef/molecular gastronomist/Top Chef judge and participant, Wylie Dufresne. The now classically trained Chef Dru was a hot item, and it wasn’t long before he landed a position at New York’s über hoity-toity Momofuku Milk Bar. But he stayed loyal to Blue, commuting up and down the Turnpike to help out. But in June, 2011, Adkins sadly called it quits and shuttered the little eatery.
Still crankin’ out croissants, pies, and cake truffles in Manhattan, Tevis maintained ties with Rehoboth by applying his newfound skills to the dessert menus at Cloud 9 and Hobos. “It was the best of both worlds. In New York, I worked under highly skilled chefs at Momofuku, then I got to put that knowledge and expertise into my own creations here in Rehoboth.”
But let’s rewind for a minute. When Blue was still open, a young man named Vince Niko was smitten by Dru’s energy, smile, and all-around good nature. Vince is a long-time employee at the Rehoboth’s charming Critter Beach pet supply—“The ultimate shop for pampered pets and their humans.” He began to make multiple visits to Blue, and it wasn’t long before the feeling became mutual and they became an item. Because of Dru’s extended commutes and hectic schedule, they don’t as yet cohabitate, but suffice it to say they are certainly within walking distance.
After a short stint as pastry chef at The Dutch restaurant in New York, Tevis traveled to Italy, London, and Paris for specialized cooking classes. But the young toque still pined away for full-time life in Rehoboth Beach. He used Chocolate Festival 2012 as an excuse to return, and friends insisted he try the recently opened Shorebreak Lodge. Drew was no stranger to the co-owners’ impressive resumes. Rob Stitt had opened the original Eden (ironically enough, in the space where Taste, and then Blue, subsequently appeared), and was the opening chef at Regan Derrickson’s twin Dewey Beach eateries, Nalu and Ponos. Inveterate surfer Matt Sprenkle also opened Nalu and Ponos as bartender, and worked for Matt Haley for a while at Fenwick’s perpetually busy Catch 54. This was neither of these guys’ first rodeos.
In May of this year Dru Tevis became the official pastry chef at Shorebreak Lodge. He not only comes up with mouthwatering morsels like his palm fruit cinnamon curry donuts (made to order, yet!), but he also creates the bread for the restaurant and is instrumental in making Shorebreak’s signature soups.
So the world might have lost a(nother) film producer or director, but it gained an expert maker of tasty desserts and a nice guy who truly loves what he does. I can live without one more or less movie, but those cinnamon curry donuts? I don’t think so.
Bob Yesbek, a Rehoboth Beach resident. Email Bob Yesbek