How did D.C. resident Chef James Robinson go from being homeless to competing on Fox’s Hells Kitchen with esteemed Chef Gordon Ramsey and being the executive chef for the United States Department of Energy, Indulj Restaurant and the Washington Marriott International? Well, we have no idea — so we asked him.
Chef JR, as he’s known around the District, is the epitome of seeing it through. A father of two, he’s also the creator of KitchenCray, a catering company specializing in private dining and culinary education.
Find out what it took for the Harlem native to become who he is today!
DC Fab!: Prior to moving to Washington D.C., you were once homeless. How did you overcome your difficult situation to put yourself through school, and finally start your own business?
Chef James Robinson: I made sure I set goals and held myself accountable. I prayed a lot. I prayed to God in every situation. I knew I didn’t have the money for school so I had no choice but to get a scholarship. I was always a leader and would always work my way to the top, and after a few years in the industry I knew I could start my own company and make some noise.
How do you incorporate D.C. culture into your recipes?I love D.C. culture so much I made my own Mumbo sauce flavor called Sticky Orange and I use this sauce in a few of my dishes.
We are a nightlife blog so we have to ask — when you hang out in D.C. where do you like to party?
I like to hang out in in Georgetown. I don’t party too much. I like to check out all the restaurants in the area.
What’s next for Kitchen Cray brand?
We are working on a program for kids called KitchenCrayKids, teaching them culinary arts exposing them to new foods.
Do you plan on expanding outside of Washington D.C.?
Yes, our next stop is New York City then worldwide.
If you could cook for any politico or celebrity, who would it be and what would you cook them?
I’m going to cook for Shawn Carter [better known as Jay Z]. The dish will be a fusion dish — braised oxtail ragu tossed with fresh made parppadelle pasta topped with shaved black truffle and chives.