David Foulquier was not your average 8-year-old. Growing up in New York City, he requested dishes at restaurants that "normal 8-year-olds don't," he says. And he admired Manhattan restaurateurs for the busy, people-pleasing lives they led.
Today, at the age of 27, he operates his own restaurant, Fooq's, in downtown Miami. He's been there nearly three years.
"It was kind of a fantasy growing up,"Foulquier says.
He attributes his love of food and hospitality to his French and Persian upbringing. "Through big family dinners at the house, big Persian feasts filled with different stews, different rices, colorful plates, and beautiful décor, [there was] this general homey feeling where we would let pretty much anybody into our home and make them feel like it was their home," he says. "I think that's a mission statement of Fooq's — to create an environment where people feel safe, comfortable, happy, and ready to enjoy food that's not only responsibly prepared, but prepared with lots of love."
He first traveled to Miami to visit relatives and fell in love. Drives on the Rickenbacker and MacArthur Causeways are his favorite memories of the city from his youth. He moved here in 2008 and studied international relations at the University of Miami for two and a half years before transferring to Florida International University's School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, among the best of its kind in the nation.
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He spent a summer as a manager-in-training for Michelin-starred genius Daniel Boulud, which inspired him to strive for the best quality in his own work.
After college, Foulquier worked in the kitchens of now-defunct Miami favorites such as OTC and Gigi. In 2012, he dove headfirst into hospitality full-time. Back then, much of Miami's hospitality industry was beginning to bounce back from the recession with exciting new concepts.
In early 2015, he opened Fooq's, an endeavor he saw as part of the "local, grassroots approach" of newer spots in downtown, such as the hip bar the Corner and the café All Day. He sees his fusion of French, Persian, and American cuisine as a way to bring together the city's diverse community. He credits his staff, patrons, fiancée, and family for the restaurant's success.
Approaching the third anniversary of Fooq's in February, he says, "I think this [year] is going to be the big one," both for his restaurant and Miami's burgeoning reputation as a food city.