Chef Robert Reinken

Hi! I had the pleasure of attending a private tasting of the restaurant Evoke’s new menu a couple weeks ago. I had never participated in anything of the sort. My thought was i’m going to eat a lot of awesome food. I never thought for a second it would be anything but the highest of quality. I was right. It was awesome.

This isn’t a food blog so I needed to talk with a real human. Meet Chef Robert! I was able to grab him towards the end and chat a bit. What’s my takeaway and what made me want to keep talking with him? He’s a family dude through and through. He understands that being a chef in a new restaurant and growing something takes time. He also understands that family is everything. As a new father myself and one that loves to get involved in all the things I can say I have done a shitty job myself of finding that balance. This conversation while short was super eye opening.

Thanks for being awesome Chef Robert. Also… your food is bad ass.

Full Disclosure. I forgot what emoji he loves using. It didn’t get captured in the audio and I didn’t have my laptop with me like usual. I chose ice cream for him because he talks about ice cream and it made me want ice cream… all of the ice cream.

What are you passionate about?

Definitely Family and food. So much of my life revolves around food though. Any time I’m not with my family i’m generally spending my time here at Evoke. Food definitely sounds stereotypical for a Chef to say but it really is. I love to cook. A lot of people are surprised to find out that even the few times I do have at home with family I cook every night I’m there. People are always like don’t you get tired of it. Don’t you want to go home after being here all week and not touch a pan. No. It’s even more fun cooking for family. Cooking for loved ones is even better.

What frustrates you?

It can be any of a number of situations but wanting to get something done and something stopping that from happening really frustrates me. There’s always rules and parameters that you have to abide by. You can’t always do exactly what you want. I did just move here from spending five years in Southern California and some of the things we had there completely spoiled me. Especially the produce. I could essentially order anything I wanted and have it on the door the next morning if I wanted. It’s a little different here. A lot of the stuff we get is from California. We have to call it in… takes a couple days. I’m learning though. I’m learning the area and of places to find things around here.

What is your greatest indulgence?

I probably have more of a sweet tooth than I would like to have. Again, a very common indulgence but for someone’s that not really a pastry chef I do have a little soft spot for the pastries. {do you have a go to dessert?} I don’t really have a go to dessert but I do love ice cream. There’s so much that you can do with it. Anything that you can come up with in your brain you can make it work. We just got a brand new ice cream machine here. I’m pretty excited to experiment with that.

If someone was visiting Charlotte and you had two hours to give them an experience where would you bring them?

That’s a really good question. If they were my personal family and friends I would want to take them here (Evoke) because this is where I spend most of my time since I’ve been back. Because of the amount of work it’s taken to open this place up. When I came here back in October (2015) this was just walls and boxes. It’s taken a lot to get it open. Unfortunately that means I haven’t had a chance to go out a whole lot. It’s hard to get around and see all the things. I have a big list of to-dos around Charlotte. There’s a lot of places I’d love to go eat.

If you could go back in time 10 years and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be?

Can we go back 15 years? {sure} I would probably just to go ahead and tell myself to get serious about the cooking. I would have loved in those earlier years to have traveled more and cooked. When I could travel light and cook in different places. Maybe overseas. That’s advice I give to a lot of the younger chefs I work with now.

Katie Levans wants to know about your parents?

My parents were kind of opposites. I picked up some things from one and others things from the other. I think they blended together really well though completely opposite in every way. From neat versus messy to loud versus quiet. Everything. I’d like to think I got the better parts of both of them. Depends on who you ask.


You can find Chef Robert making awesome food at Evoke or on Instagram here.

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