A Chat with Chef Robert Irvine Live in Red Bank 10/5

If you are an avid Jersey Bites reader you saw this event in our “Foodie Things to Do This Weekend & Beyond” — Robert Irvine Live in Red Bank, NJ on October 5th at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank at 8 PM. As a huge fan of Restaurant Impossible and a major foodie, I made it my goal to not only get to his show but to interview the illustrious Chef Irvine. Last night, I turned that goal into a reality and had the pleasure of having a phone interview with Robert where we spoke about food, keeping a positive perspective in life and making the impossible–possible!

SCBD: Happy Belated Birthday! Thank you for doing this interview with me. Anyone who watches your shows knows you are passionate about what you do. Who or what fueled this for you?

RI: I’m always inspired by the human race. After being helped by others in the past, I feel its my duty to encourage, lead and motivate others. I also feel it’s very important to give back.

SCBD: I’m really excited for the show next week and like your shows on Food Network you’ll have no idea what your walking into. What do you like about the unknown? Most people would not want to do that and have it planned. How do you prepare for your shows?

RI: Like my television shows, I don’t prepare and walk into a situation where I am being challenged which I embrace. I like that people get to see the other side of Robert that they don’t see on tv and learn a lot about who I am as a person, the traveling I’ve done and charities I am a part of. All the proceeds from the show also go to the charities I work with.

SCBD: I’ve learned so much from watching Restaurant Impossible, I love that you are interactive with the restaurant owners & the community. Why do you find those factors so important? Why do you think community is so important, in any form of business?

RI: I believe word of mouth by locals is better than any print ad in a paper. Community is a huge factor and support system for a restaurant that can embrace it. It can also easily get a lot of people in a restaurant from hearing good reviews from locals.

It’s also very important to restaurant owners to embrace social media and use it to their advantage to really speak to their audience. Bloggers have a huge impact now too and can make or break a restaurant.

SCBD: On that note– do you moderate your own Twitter & Facebook?

RI: Yes, I do. I think it’s really important to answer your own tweets and be interactive with your audience. It’s also great meeting some of my followers and fans at my shows who I’ve tweeted with.

SCBD: I really look up to do “can-do” attitude, it’s really encouraging how you make the impossible, possible. When & who inspired you to take this point of view on life? What piece of advice do you have for people like me who are just starting their career or want to go into a field they are passionate about for the first time?

RI: My military service definitely instilled those values within me. I’m a huge advocate of the power of positive thinking. I believe you should do what you do because you LOVE it and always be the best you, you can be– no one else but the best you. I believe and live this– start with the end in mind. If you want to be a chef– be a chef & achieve your goal. I think you should always be a good person who is direct, lives a life that is honest, loyal, and with integrity. Those are my personal keys to success.

SCBD: What’s one of your favorite moments from the show?

RI: My favorite moment during Restaurant Impossible is 8 hours in, that’s when the change in the people begins and it’s a great feeling for me to see it and how far they are coming.

SCBD: What is one lesson you’ve learned from the Restaurant/Dinner Impossible? How has this helped you on tour?

RI: I learn a new life lesson daily. After awhile you realize how small the world is really is, so I believe you should be respectful to everyone you meet because people will constantly go in and out of your life. I also believe you should never go to bed without telling someone you love them, life is too short.

SCBD: What is one of your favorite, easy recipe from one of your cookbooks you’d give someone whose still learning how to cook? Who told you about it?

RI:  All the recipes in my cookbooks are creative mistakes. As a chef I’m constantly starting to cook something and turning it something else by using basic concepts. One recipe I recommend I came up with over my honeymoon recently– grilled flank steak with watermelon salad, which I made with a greek salad also and it came out great. If I like something I’ll keep making it and use it on the show, etc.

SCBD: I had the pleasure of interviewing Serena Palumbo from Food Network Star season 6, she said she got to meet you and that you’re an awesome person. What’s the most common misconception people have you and how would you clear it up?

RI: I think people misunderstand my directness at first and take it as arrogance. But once I explain their situation in story format it really hits them and they know they need the help. I have a 94% success rate and take my job seriously and love knowing that I’ve helped keep families and couples together with a successful restaurant at the end of the day.

SCBD: What is one of the most memorable places you’ve cooked in?

RI: I was cooking in the British Navy for a huge part of my life so I’m fortunate to be well travelled so it’s hard to pick one. Greece, Egypt, Italy, and the palace in Saudi Arabia were some of my favorites. I believe their are more than seven wonders of the world also. There is so much to discover.

SCBD: What do you think is currently most damaging to the American palette?

RI: There is no food that I think is most damaging, if anything I think its overindulgence. We live in a world where people are always busy and in a hurry. They don’t take time to plan their meals and may not make the right choices when they are out. It’s all about moderation.

SCBD:  You definitely have an empire by now with all your shows, restaurants, and more and it didn’t happen over night. We all have a moment where we know what we want to do or just feel like we are in the right place. Looking back, when did you know you wanted to be a chef?

RI: I knew I wanted to be a chef when I was 11 years old. I was on the USS Uganda, trying to impress a girl I liked on the ship. I told the chef I could do what he did and mimicked what he cooked and learned from him the entire trip. I knew that I wanted to be a chef and was able to do so for 30 years for the British navy. Television has just been a recent venture for me.

SCBD:  What’s your favorite part about having an interactive show?

RI: I love hearing from the fans and getting to know them better, while learning a lot about food and connecting with them in person which I can’t do on TV.

SCBD: Thank you again for letting me interview you. What should we look forward to at the show next week?

RI: Well there will be a lot of personal interaction, learning new things about food, about my life, interact with a computer named Chad, and just enjoy and have a  funevening with Robert Irvine.

On that note, I don’t know about you but I am truly excited to go to the show next week. I have a feeling it’ll be an evening filled with food– can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Sara Monica Gaona is a born and raised Jersey Girl and originally hails from Monmouth County. This past May she received her BA in Communication with a minor in Sociology and Public Relations from Fairleigh Dickinson University and is currently working for a public relations firm in Rutherford, NJ. She found her inner foodie during her Fall Semester of Senior year while interning at The Rachael Ray Show and was soon inspired to start her food blog, Small Chick Big Deals that has restaurant reviews covering New York City & all over New Jersey, recipes, and interviews with food writers and more! When she’s not working or blogging she enjoys hanging out with friends, cooking meals with her boyfriend & family, reading a good book, relaxing by the beach or escaping to New York City. You can follow Small Chick Big Deals @Smchickbigdeals on Twitter or follow Sara personally @Sierrax0x or both!