Silver Creek man embraces life enjoying many interests

Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland David Lewis sits in his music room at the piano his father refinished many years ago.


Special to the OBSERVER

SILVER CREEK — Although Silver Creek native David Lewis finds little time to sleep, he leads an interesting life doing the things he loves to do.

“I’m a happy guy. I’ve had a wonderful life and I like what I do,” he says. “I’ve been at the stove since I could reach it.”

When he was 18 years old he became the head chef at The Colony House in Silver Creek. Later, he opened a Mexican restaurant in Naples, Florida and owned The Enchilada Warehouse in Westfield, New York. He served as the head chef at Chautauqua’s St. Elmo’s Hotel in the early 80s.

In 1984, he was hired by Faculty Student Association at SUNY Fredonia, where he cooked at a short order lunch restaurant and helped launch much of the catering, especially at the college president’s house. He was moved to the dining hall, where he felt he learned a lot about cooking, but found the hours to be unfavorable. He then took a position as a truck driver, making deliveries on campus. With apprehension, he moved into baking with a new baker who was obviously not happy to have a “green horn,” but he has held the position for 17 years. The college took first place in a national collegiate catering event the year Lewis served as chef. In August 2017, he was presented the Fredonia Outstanding Administrative Services Award.

He enjoys managing the kitchen at Fellowship of the Spirit Learning Center in Cassadaga two weekends per month.

“I hope to be involved at the Tally-Ho as it emerges into the coming years,” he says of the restaurant which is situated on the grounds at Chautauqua Institution.

A love of cooking goes back many generations in the Lewis family, with his grandmother owning The Irving Diner, which she ran 24 hours on demand, getting up out of bed whenever anyone stopped by for a meal.

Besides having a passion for cooking, he enjoys golf and has coached the sport at Fredonia High School for the past 18 years. His father first took him golfing when he was just four years old. Until recently he had been a member of Tri-County Country Club, having held that membership for 44 years.

Music is another of his passions, which he may have acquired from his mother’s side. He tells about his grandmother graduating from Fredonia College two times. She was an art and music teacher, who loved teaching music, but was required to teach art, as well, thus her return to college in an attempt to hone her art skills.

“The music and the harmony in my life was beautiful growing up,” says the grandson.

Lewis began singing in barbershop quartets in 1984 and is the frontline music director of Jamestown Harmony Express Barbershop Chorus. He has been in 13 registered quartets and has competed six times in international competitions. Jamestown Harmony Express is currently readying for an upcoming gospel concert on May 5 at Christ First United Methodist Church, 663 Lakeview Avenue, Jamestown. Tickets can be purchased by calling 499-5248.

He is a eucharistic minister at St. Albans Episcopal Church in Silver Creek.

“My church and my barbershop are my most favorite things.”

Volunteering and doing for others in the way of providing transportation is another way he gives back to his community.

“I like to be nice to people when I can,” he says.

He has lived in the same house, a house his father built, since his parents brought him from the hospital as a newborn baby. The home contains many collections and things that are near to his heart. His mother’s china cabinet holds his paternal grandmother’s Noritake china set, of which his mother added pieces to build a service for 24. She added a small matching miniature set, as well. A 24-hour clock that has been in the family for many years hangs on a short wall around the corner from the china cabinet.

His late brother’s musical instrument collection, of which Lewis helped to build, is displayed in the music room. Two trombones, a flugelhorn, a tiple which is part of the guitar family, a piccolo trumpet and a bugle are exhibited on a shelf above the piano the brothers’ father refinished many years ago. Nearby two violins sit on the mantel near a table that holds a clarinet-like instrument.

Several of the homeowner’s vintage wooden pieces can be found in the room. A small wall cabinet holds a Swarovski crystal musical instrument collection. His cobalt blue glassware collection is contained behind glass in two large cabinets.

“When I see a yard sale, I pull over and I look for blue,” he says with a grin.

The local museum has borrowed his late mother’s Santa collection, which Lewis admits is stored away because he has no room to display it.

He has traveled extensively, visiting Italy, England, Ireland and Newfoundland and China, Thailand and Belize. He has family in Hawaii who he has visited several times and has seen much of the USA.

Today he shares recipes acquired from family and friends beginning with his mother’s Crock-Pot Chuck Roast, which he refers to as his “number one simplest recipe that any dummy can make.” He adds that the dish does not need to be seasoned or stirred.

“The Eggplant Parmesan with Bacon is a lot of work, but it is worth it,” he states. “When the college put it on the vegetarian menu, the bacon was removed.”

The Spicy Cook-Out Onion Relish compliments many dishes, whether served as a condiment or on the side.

“You can do a lot with it and it’s a great condiment to put on a hot dog or hamburger.”