David Chambers (1963-2022)
In the earliest days of the Tomato Head, when it was still The Flying Tomato, the foundling restaurant was a close working environment – the space small and the working quarters condensed, and the restaurant was often quiet so the only conversation was with coworkers. In those slow times the comradery made the first incarnation of the Tomato Head family a tight bunch. It was almost an us-against-the-world vibe born of the easy communion of youth on a mission. It was also fueled by a singular personality belonging to our very first employee: David Chambers
David was a born ringleader – the sort of human who said the kinds of things we wish we could say, taught the way we wish we could teach, and shocked us in ways that led us quickly from gasp to guffaw. He was burdened with a vision of the world that was hard, cold, and real, but that never robbed him of love and kindness for the people he claimed.
He opened his home, his heart, and his imagination to those around him, and he was the friend who would offer you his car with the same insouciance that another friend might give you an apple. In those formative first days, he helped define a vibe that continues to inform our restaurant today. Some of our craziest ideas came from David, and while some of them (like the frog’s leg or smoked oyster pizza) were mostly about getting the business passersby to pay attention to our sign, they helped stretch the imagination of our kitchen and inspired us to think far outside of the traditional food box.
Those who knew him will understand the irony when we say that he also taught us to be nice – especially to those in need. For a man whose humor was usually savage and always salty, he demonstrated courtesy to the homeless who crossed his path. He was a good teacher, but not just in terms of rolling out pizza dough or balancing the composition of a salad, his example led many of us to a lasting understanding of human matters – kindness, commitment, and friendship. Karyn Adams, another of our early team members sums it up nicely: “The underlying code of David was, ‘that in this broken world there are relationships you tend, people you protect, because sometimes, you simply can’t protect or love yourself enough.’”