Missy Robbins
980 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 280-2750

Biography »

Antoinette Bruno: Why did you start cooking? What or who inspired you to become a chef?
Missy Robbins: I’ve always been really interested in food. Growing up, my dad was a huge foodie. He took me to great restaurants all over. I went to college to pursue art history. I didn’t really think pursuing cooking was a career. Then I dined at Trotter’s and that made up my mind. I wrote to Trotter asking for a job. He called me and interviewed me on the phone. He suggested that I get some kitchen experience and then come and stage for a few days. I got a job at 1789 while at Georgetown during my senior year in 1993. I said I’d give cooking a year, and now it’s been 13 years.

AB: After Georgetown you attended the Institute for Culinary Education (then known as Peter Kump’s New York School of Cooking). Would you recommend culinary school to aspiring chefs today?
MR: For some people it’s really good. If you’re really motivated, you can just get a job with a good teacher. I manage 50 people – building a team is my job. So we spend a lot of time on education here.

AB: Who are your mentors? What are some of the most important things you’ve learned from them?
MR: I learned all of my techniques form Wayne Nish at March 10 years ago.

AB: What is your favorite question to ask during an interview for a potential new line cook?
MR: How did you get into cooking?

AB: What tips would you offer young chefs just getting started?
MR: Take your time and learn technique. I went through 2 sous chef jobs, traveled, staged throughout Europe and was a line cook for 6 years.

AB: What are your favorite cookbooks?
MR: The series form the River Café has been very inspirational. I also have lots of Italian cookbooks (in Italian). The first cookbook I ever owned was Jasper White’s Cooking from New England and I stayed with it for a long time. I buy a cookbook a week. I read them like novels.

AB: What cities do you like for culinary travel?
MR: I want to go everywhere. I’ve spent a lot of time in Italy and Europe. I want to go to Asia – to learn and experience but not for me to cook Asian food. It is just so different. I will continue to go to Italy once a year to stage at restaurants there. I come to work here at Spiaggia because I didn’t have a real “culinary” mentor. Tony has become that for me. He is deeply rooted in Italian cuisine and a great teacher.

AB: What are your favorite haunts in Chicago?
MR: Avec is great , especially the braised octopus and dates. HOTCHOCOLATE’s desserts are awesome. Café Lula for really good simple fresh food and a great vibe.

AB: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
MR: Owning my own place, maybe with Tony.

Missy Robbins
SPIAGGIA | Chicago

Just before graduating from Georgetown University, Missy dined at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and became convinced that the kitchen was the right place for her. She moved to New York for her culinary studies at Peter Kump’s School of Cooking and afterwards developed two important mentor relationships with noted chefs Wayne Nish at March Restaurant and Anne Rosenzweig at Arcadia and the Lobster Club. With a desire to further enhance the breadth of her culinary education, she embarked on an excursion to northern Italy where she worked in small, family-run restaurants and the Michelin-rated Agli Amici in Friuli. Robbins grew to love the ingredient-driven, simple and regionally inspired foods of Italy. Returning to the states, she became the sous chef and then chef de cuisine at the boutique SoHo Grand Hotel before she was lured to Chicago in 2003 by the opportunity to work at Spiaggia, one of the nation’s few four-star Italian restaurants. Working with highly acclaimed Chef Tony Mantuano, Robbins has found the perfect opportunity to bring her ardor for Italian cooking to life.


Guinea Hen Wrapped in Pancetta with Creamy Yukon Gold Potatoes and Umbrian Black Truffle Sauce
Chef Missy Robbins of Spiaggia – Chicago, IL
Adapted by StarChefs.com

Yield: 6 Servings


    Guinea Hen:
  • 3 guinea hen, boned out and cut in halves
  • 7 ½ ounces pancetta, sliced very thin
  • 6 ounces caul fat
    Black Truffle Sauce:
  • 6 guinea hen carcasses
  • 2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup roughly chopped carrot
  • 1 cup roughly chopped onion
  • 1 cup roughly chopped celery
  • 1 bottle white wine
  • 12 quarts chicken stock
  • 3 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 1 ½ ounces Umbrian black truffle carpaccio, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon truffle oil
  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
  • 4 ounces cream
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 1 Tablespoon truffle oil


For Guinea Hen:
Take half a guinea hen, which should be completely boned out, but left in tact, and roll into a cylinder so that the thigh and leg meat are inside of the breast meat. Lay 1¼ ounces of the pancetta flat on a work surface and place the guinea hen on top of it. Roll the pancetta tightly around the guinea hen cylinder. Place a piece of caul fat on the work surface and place the wrapped guinea hen cylinder on top. Roll the caul fat tightly around the package.

For Sauce:
Preheat an oven to 350° F. Place guinea hen carcasses on a sheet pan and place in oven. Roast until golden brown. When the bones have roasted, heat a large sauce pot to medium. Add 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and sauté carrots, onions and celery until vegetables are slightly golden and beginning to soften. Deglaze with the white wine and reduce the wine by half. Add the roasted bones to the pot and cover with the chicken stock. Add the tomatoes, thyme and rosemary. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 ½ hours until there is a strong poultry flavor. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve and place the liquid into a smaller pan. Bring back to a simmer and let reduce by ¾ or until the sauce can coat the back of a spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Just before serving the sauce, add 2 ounces of butter and whisk in over low heat so it slowly emulsifies. Finish with the chopped truffles and the truffle oil.

For Potatoes:
Peel the potatoes and cut into quarters. Place the potatoes in a medium-sized sauce pan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a simmer and cook potatoes until tender. Drain and let steam for 1 minute in order to dry out the excess moisture from the potatoes. Heat the cream and put through a food mill with the potatoes. Whip in 2 ounces of the butter by hand. (Potatoes should have a loose consistency. Add more cream if necessary.) Season to taste with salt and a Tablespoon of truffle oil.

To Assemble and Serve:
Preheat an oven to 450° F. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet and add 3 Tablespoons olive oil Add the wrapped guinea hens and sauté while turning until pancetta begins to crisp on all sides. When the pancetta begins to brown, put the skillet in the oven to finish cooking, approximately 20 minutes, making sure to occasionally turn it in order to achieve even browning. When the guinea hen is cooked through, pull it from oven and let rest for a few minutes. Trim both ends off and cut in half on a bias.

Place 2 Tablespoons of the potato puree in the center of each plate. Place the guinea hen upright in the middle of the potatoes. Spoon Two tablespoons of sauce over each guinea hen.

Wine Pairing:
Albert Morot, Savigny-Vergelesses, La Bataillère, Burgundy, France 1996


   Published: November 2005