It has been said that you eat first with your eyes, then with your nose, then with your mouth. Chef Louis Robinson of Spice takes this idea to heart, and then uses his heart to produce some of the most visually arresting, audaciously aromatic, and wildly tasty food that we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in recent memory.
Spice is a pop-up restaurant and personal chef service, so if you’re thinking of joining us on the “Fans of Chef Louis Robinson” bandwagon, you’ll need to hire him or follow him. The pop-up restaurant is a cool concept coming to a crescendo in big cities over the last few years. In San Francisco, where Chef Louis lived and worked for eight years, this concept is so popular that many pop-ups have become their own restaurants in order to keep up with the demand created by their devotees. A pop-up restaurant happens when an established restaurant or venue allows a chef to “borrow” their space to present a temporary exploration of his own culinary vision.
Chef Louis’ culinary vision is staggering in its simplicity: He wants to make people happy. He believes that cooking is an expression of love and should be presented as such. When we talk to Chef Louis about culinary movements he is dismissive of the idea of getting caught up in a particular trend.
“Being part of a movement can get you too focused on one thing and then you lose focus of the guest and what makes them happy. I like to think about who is eating the food and what they might want to experience. There is so much out there that hasn’t been experienced.”
Chef Louis especially enjoys Latin and Caribbean flavor profiles and he learned a lot about these flavors when visiting Jamaica, where his wife is from. His wife, Joan Robinson, is a beautiful and stylish woman and who mingles with the guests at her husband’s pop-up events with the same grace and poise that he implements in the plating of his dishes.
Louis Robinson is not a classically trained chef. He began working in restaurants as a teenager in Oakland, California, and many years later he still considers himself to be a culinary student. He studies techniques and draws inspiration from everyone and everything that he finds interesting.
At a recent pop-up event held at Baker & Wife, under the auspices of chef/owner Isaac Correa, Chef Louis was in his element and the provocative menu delighted all in attendance. The first plate was an immediate showstopper: a langostino crudo with black garlic, orange, serrano chile, and finger lime. The artfully arranged plate enticed our eyes, the pungent black garlic and citrus wafted teasingly in the air, and the shocking delicate crudo melted in our mouths. By the time the last bite of that first plate was over we were all happy, but none of us more so than Chef Louis Robinson himself.