Interview with 2012 Atlanta Rising Star Chef Robert Phalen

June 2012

Antoinette Bruno: What make you pursue cooking?
Robert Phalen: I needed a job in college. I worked as a dishwasher and then worked my way up.

AB: What advice do you have for young cooks?
RP:
Listen to what someone else has to say. Keep your head down, say yes, listen, and watch. Don't go into it thinking you know everything because you don't know everything.

AB: What goes into creating a dish?
RP: We change the menu here everyday. Sometimes the guys don't know what’s on the menu until 5 o’clock, but it’s fun. The jarring and preserving is fun.

AB: What is your biggest challenge?
RP: Getting the clientele interested in my food. What I am doing is something different, and I have to work to get people to come here. But when they do they are like "Oh!"

AB: What trends do you see emerging?
RP: Going back to the way things were done. I want to capture all the sugars from caramelization or roasting; flavors you don't get from cooking in a bag.

AB: If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?
RP: Travel. I love cooking, and when I'm not doing it I'm travelling or spending time with my kids.

AB: Where will we find you in five years?
RP: Opening another restaurant in Atlanta.