Chef Profile: Nick Roberge Executive Chef at Bourbon Belly Hospitality in Geneva, Glen Ellyn and Wheaton
Nick Roberge Executive Chef at Bourbon Belly Hospitality in Geneva, Glen Ellyn and Wheaton
Years as a chef? I’ve been cooking professionally for 14 years, and for four years I've been the Executive Chef of Bourbon Belly Hospitality — Barrel + Rye and Burger Local in Geneva, Burger Social in Wheaton and Maize + Mash in Glen Ellyn
When did you first get interested in cooking and what sparked that interest? I always helped my mom cook when I was growing up. I think that came from being impatient for dinner.
What is your culinary training? I graduated from Elgin Community College’s culinary program.
Describe your daily routine. Managing four different kitchens, most days are very unique and challenging in their own way. Mostly I choose a location that I will be most effective at or that needs the most help and I start there. Anything can happen in the restaurant world, especially when there are four current locations.
Your go-to cookbook? The Flavor Bible. It helps me come up with new ideas or flavor combinations I haven't tried before.
Favorite ingredients to work with? Anything new to me that I haven’t worked with before.
Favorite place to shop for ingredients? Farmers' markets are my favorite — you can see what’s in season and talk with people who are passionate about those ingredients.
How many meals come out of your kitchen on a busy weekend night? We’re cooking for 200+ people out of a small kitchen. The way to keep it consistent is to hire good people and keep them trained on how you want the food.
Top tip for foodie home cooks or aspiring chefs? Salt is always one of the most important ingredients. Use enough but not too much. Also, take a lot of cooking advice with a grain of salt.
Favorite west suburban restaurant, other than yours? Niche in Geneva
Guilty pleasure or junk food you really enjoy? Taco Bell and/or Dairy Queen.
Your last meal would be? Tacos would be pretty good — with someone I like.
Kitchen utensils you can't live without? A sharp chef’s knife, tongs, and towels
If not a chef, what career would you have pursued? Possibly construction or something where you make things. I’d really like to get into an excavator machine and tear it up.
Hobbies when not cooking? Fermentation and kayaking Do you ever watch cooking on TV or online? I watch a lot of YouTube. I really like watching Brad Leone’s videos on fermentation.
Who is the chef you most admire and why? Rene Redzeppi because of his progressive attitude about working in a kitchen and trying to improve working conditions for cooks around the world.
What do you look for in new hires? I look for people that are eager to learn about cooking and are devoted to improving their skills. Also, a sense of humor doesn’t hurt.Edit Module