Chef Jeramie Robison of Cinq at La Colombe d'Or

Chef Jeramie Robison of Cinq at La Colombe d'Or
March 2011

Jeramie Robison has come a long way from the restaurants in his hometown of Ruston, Louisiana, where he began cooking professionally at the age of 16. Today he’s executive chef of Cinq—the elegant hotel restaurant at La Colombe d’Or in Houston. Heeding the wishes of his father and four food-loving uncles, Robison landed a coveted kitchen post at Mansion on Turtle Creek, an experience to which he credits his culinary education. Having access to the kitchen’s vast array of chefs, each with a honed specialty, allowed Robison to experience nearly every facet of professional cooking.

Looking to further his practical education, Robison ventured to Manhattan to work under Chef David Burke at Fishtail. Lured to Houston by Chef John Tesar, Robison worked as a sous chef at Tesar’s Modern Steak & Seafood for nearly a year before getting the break of a lifetime. When Tesar departed, Robison took on the role of co-executive chef, until the restaurant closed and left him unemployed.

In the summer of 2010, Robison packed his belongings into his truck, and just hours from a planned move to Austin, went to meet Restaurateur Steve Zimmerman to interview for a position as executive chef at La Colombe d’Or. Zimmerman and Robison connected instantly, and Robison’s understated personality allowed him to seamlessly transition into the established Houston kitchen. In addition to landing the top gig at Cinq—at just 27 years old—Robison also leads the kitchen at Zimm’s Little Deck, a New Orleans-inspired icehouse and seafood bar, where his youth adds fresh perspective to the restaurant’s staunchly Southern cuisine.

Chef Jeramie Robison

Kathleen Culliton: What inspired you to pursue cooking professionally?
Jeramie Robison: My dad and his four brothers were a big influence on my getting into cooking. My dad always wanted to take it to a professional level so I pursued it. I come from a family of cooks.

KC: Would you recommend culinary school to aspiring cooks?
JR: I don’t think it’s necessary. I would say to get into a very nice hotel where you can get your hands on breakfast, lunch, dinner, and room service—A French brigade kitchen where you can get your hands on everything. Coming from [The Mansion on] Turtle Creek, that’s how I got where I am now. We had a saucier and a breakfast chef, and they don’t sleep. We had a butcher and fish butcher—we had the whole thing. Whether it’s cooking a hamburger or foie gras or learning stocks and sauces, you can just get your hands on all of it.

KC: What are a few of your favorite flavor combinations?
JR: Gosh, I don’t know. I’m all over the place. I love seafood with tomato products. I’m a really big fan of the acidic flavor in the tomato. Madras curry is something I love to use. I do a merguez with Madras curry, sautéed onion, and cumin aïoli, and here I do it with a soy glaze and sea bass.

KC: What’s your most indispensable kitchen tool? Why?
JR: My most used tool is the Kunz spoon. I use it move purées around. Also, a stick blender to emulsify.

KC: Is there a culinary technique that you have either created or borrowed and use in an unusual way?
JR: I do a lot of French braising with vegetables, sweating them out slowly, adding a knob of butter, covering them in stock with parchment paper lid. This slowly brings them down and pulls out the flavor. Then I add a little butter and whip. I do this instead of blanching vegetables—I do a lot of braising. In terms of roasting whole fish in the oven, it’s a great technique, not an aggressive technique. It doesn’t dehydrate the protein, but just slowly puts the heat through to cook it.

KC: Define “American Cuisine.” What does it mean to you?
JR: It’s a mix of a lot of different things—lots of cultures coming together. In terms of knowing other cuisines, I don’t have a strong opinion on that. I’ve taken from what I’ve learned, and I’m doing my own thing with it. I ate out twice [when I worked] in New York. I’m buried in the kitchen.

KC: If you weren’t a chef, what do you think you’d be doing?
JR: Professional mountain biker? It’s a tough one. I’ve never really enjoyed sports, but I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Related Links