If you’re a fan of the Food Network, you’ve probably seen local celebrity chef Robyn Almodovar in at least one televised cooking competition. In 2012, the owner of Palate Party, a food truck based in Hollywood, was a finalist on the 10th season of Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen.” On July 7, she was named the Season 24 winner of the Food Network’s, “Chopped,” a hit series in which chefs compete before a panel of judges and turn baskets of mystery ingredients into edible three-course meals. Now, you can find her competing weekly on Camp Cutthroat, a summer variant of the wildly popular Cutthroat Kitchen, hosted by Alton Brown.
Recently, Palm Beach Happening was able to catch up with the Chef Robyn while she was being tattooed at a local tattoo convention; as she said, spending some of her winnings from Chopped!
How did you get started in the food industry?
Cooking always came natural to me. It was like a chore when I was growing up. I was three years old making meatballs with my grandmother, throwing them in a pot of gravy, so cooking has always been a family thing, being half Puerto Rican and half Italian. It really didn’t come to me until I was in my twenties. There were a whole bunch of late night informercials about Le Cordon Bleu, so I saw it as a sign from God! I dropped out of cosmetology school and started culinary.
Can you tell us a little bit about your food truck?
Palate Party is a gourmet food truck that was started four years ago, My slogan is “it’s a party in your mouth every time!” I like to give South Florida fresh, local ingredients, specializing in farm to table. I like to try and help out the Mom and Pops instead of corporate America.
When can we expect to see your food truck in the Palm Beaches?
My truck comes into Palm Beach County twice a month, at Abacoa.
What made you decide to compete in Hell’s Kitchen with Chef Gordon Ramsey?
When I auditioned for Hell’s Kitchen, I felt like I had the right tools to win the show. I felt like the training I had in life was going to help me win.
The most memorable thing was meeting some of the contestants I’m still friends with now; five years later. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to be treated like a child all the time, and basically be in the cattle ring.
What was the best thing about competing on Chopped?
The best thing about competing on Chopped was to represent food truckers of the United States, because we’re always underestimated. Taking down an executive chef at the Four Seasons, Chef de cuisine from the best restaurant in Seattle, and an executive sous chef for Morimoto is definitely worth more than $10,000. It’s priceless, like Mastercard!
How would you compare the two experiences?
On Chopped, it was more serious. You’re cooking for well known chefs, Geoffrey Zakarian, Amanda Frietag and Marc Murphy, who have great resumes both in the USA and all over the world.
On Cutthroat, it was more about fun. Having four chefs in a kitchen who are able to mess with each other.
What can you tell us about your new supper club?
The supper club is in Sunny Isles. It’s an eight week series, and every week we specialize in a new menu. We offer three courses for $55, or we have a lounge menu that offers six appetizers and three entrees. Everything is made fresh, in house, down to the bread. We’re just focused on fresh, local, sustainable, and taking the fru fru ness out of food. It doesn’t have to be so intimidating all the time.
How do you plan on spending your winnings?
I’m spending my winnings from Chopped right now, supporting an artist by getting my tattoo done by Marissa Lauren from Ink Masters. I’d also like to go to Italy.
Can you tell us a little more about your charity work, as demonstrated on your Facebook page?
I believe that giving back to the community is the best way to gain fans, and not only that; to gain respect as a human being. I help with educating underpriveleged youth by showing them they could build a farm in their backyard so cheaply so they can get fresh food year round. We’re trying to get them away from processed foods, like McDonald’s and Wendy’s where it’s easy and fast, but anyone can cook a meal in 20 minutes with ingredients that come from your own garden.
What are your future projects?
I’m working with Share our Strength, and looking forward to my next television opportunity.
A private chef for celebrities such as such as Timbaland, John Corbett and Travie McCoy, Almodovar’s Supper Club Thursdays is an eighth week pop-up dinner which started July 23 at Kitchen 305 inside the Newport Beach Resort (16701 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach).
Some items featured on the menu have included slow braised meatballs (ricotta cheese, pickled shallot, ricotta ensalada); deep-fried egg salad (frisee, bacon lardon, sherry vinaigrette); duck-confit pappardelle (homemade pasta, shaved ricotta and broccolini); roasted half chicken (crispy potatoes, caramelized onions, eggplant caviar and roasted garlic au jus).
“I describe it as a party in your mouth,” she says of her cooking style, using her signature catchphrase. “It’s comfort food with finesse.”
The price includes access to a lounge (which will offer hors d’oeuvres and cocktails) and a meet and greet with Almodovar, who is known for her upbeat personality and for creating a homey atmosphere among her dinner guests.
Tickets to Supper Club Thursdays cost $55 per person. Call 954 – 749-2110 or go to Kitchen305Miami.com.
We’d like to thank Chef Robyn for taking a few minutes out of her busy schedule to share some of her insight into the world of dining, and wish her tons of success in the future. She has already competed in seven on air food competitions, and is currently on the lookout for her next culinary challenge.
She is also about to embark on a literary challenge, of sorts, as she will be providing the audience of Palm Beach Happening with a glimpse behind the scenes of some of her favorite television appearances, as well as reveal some of her favorite recipes for all of us to enjoy!
If you’re a local chef whose cuisine matches up to the best out there, we’d love to talk to you. Contact us and perhaps you can be the next celebrity chef!