I’ve been in the restaurant industry since I was fifteen years old. I have no clue what drew me to this line of work. I didn’t cook much as a kid, our meals consisted of Banquet veal parmesan which to this day, haunts my dreams. I had the opportunity to be a fry cook during the summer and none of the other kids had jobs and I was hungry. I was already working as an usher for the Cincinnati Gardens, Coliseum, and Stadium where I was fortunate enough to see amazing acts like INXS, Adam Ant, The Kinks, Billy Squier, Def Leppard, and Stevie Nicks. But I wanted to cook for some insane reason.
An opportunity came along to be a fry cook at Roy Rogers Restaurant on the Skywalk in downtown Cincinnati. I had the free time, the desire to have a pocket full of cash, and thought, why not? It was just a three-month gig and having disposable income at fifteen was inviting. The job was exactly what they described, I wasn’t expecting anything else, and when the summer ended, so did the job.
I banged around during my freshman year in college working at various fast food joints to keep the beer money flowing. Then the opportunity for me to up my game at a funky and hip local vegetarian restaurant called Mullane’s came along and I dove right in. This was a wildly popular restaurant that you only got in the door was by word of mouth. I was fortunate enough to work there three years and kept getting more hungry to learn more. I migrated across the big muddy to Covington and worked as a saute’ cook at The Waterfront Restaurant under the iron fist of Jeff Ruby. By far the craziest place I’ve ever worked. Insane hours, the revolving door of chefs, sports celebrities galore. It was an amazing time. Accidentally stepping on the foot of Peter Frampton was the highlight of 1992.
I still wanted more. I wanted out of Cincinnati. I had lived here twenty-eight years. I saw many of my friends leave for the west coast. I wanted that. I wanted to be free. In the fall of 1993, I sold everything I owned and split for San Francisco. I landed a job after a month, got my place, and worked my way up to sous chef, and worked at the same restaurant for seven years. I also met my current wife who was a server at Palomino, where I was Sous Chef.
Though I was married, working, and living in San Francisco, the home started to call again and we moved back to Cincinnati. I bopped around places like Boca in Northside under the ownership of Dan Reis. Great place. We were allowed tons of creativity, the food was on point and it was a beautiful restaurant. After it was sold, I moved down to the Hilton and worked as a Sous Chef under Chef Damian Reolon. Funny, Swiss workaholic who was kind and caring. I was sad to hear that he had died at the restaurant five years after I left.
Oddly enough I ended back at Palomino but this time in Cincinnati. I was promoted to Senior Sous Chef and by chance, was transferred back to San Francisco but not to Palomino but to Kincaid’s which is a sister restaurant in the same company. I remained there a year and did a few stints at small places in the city until I had the opportunity to open as the chef at an upcoming beer-focused Gastropub called The Monk’s Kettle. I created the menu from scratch, paired with craft beers, and eventually, we conducted beer dinners with world-famous breweries like Stone, Boston Beer Company, and Dogfish Head. It was a glorious time but all good things come to pass.
My father was terminally ill and I ended up caring for him and taking a year off going back and forth to Cincinnati. Another similar Gastropub was opening in Berkeley California called Freehouse. I opened with the same menu I created at The Monk’s Kettle and it was an instant hit. After fifteen months, my wife and I were offered the opportunity to relocate to Portland Oregon with my Uncle and his partner. We had been in the Bay Area for almost fifteen years now and the change was good.
We moved to Portland in 2013. I worked as Chef at a local popular restaurant called Equinox. Super busy, also served brunch. It was a meat grinder. Portland is a tough town for Chefs. Opportunities to run your kitchen were slim and the pay wasn’t that great. I worked for two breweries which where Lompoc and Hair of the Dog. We lived in Portland for three years. The housing was getting as expensive as the bay area and the job market was lousy.
My wife Judy was missing her mother, and vise versa. We ended moving to Pennsylvania in 2016 and have been there ever since. Where we live is a culinary desert. Though I did make my mark at a local Tavern where I introduced some Asian Fusion style Gastropub cuisine, I’ve still not found my footing. Time will tell. Who knows what the future holds for us but wherever we land, we will excel at what we do. We are a great team.

7 Responses to “About”

  1. fathman said

    you really should be proud of yourself.
    and you really should get a decent camera.
    if you’re ever in boston, i’d like to have a drink with you.

  2. Thanks Rob. You were a big inspiration for me. Helping me cut my teeth with food that was other than brown rice and tofu. I’d love to grab a drink with you if we are ever in Boston. My wife loves the place.

  3. Paul Midgen said

    Hi Kevin, my wife and I have seen you at the underground markets, and we loved your food at Monk’s Kettle.

    We’re sad that you left – we hear the new guy wants to change everything – but empathize with you right to the core. I’ve been doing one thing for over 15 years and am heeding the call to a different path.

    Go be true to yourself and be happy man, I’m sure you’ve earned it.

    • Paul, thank you. That was probably the most heart felt and sincere response anyone could of written. This transition has been a rough one and I’m starting to see the light after many years of serving people who don’t appreciate it. See you at the next market! -Kevin.

  4. Amanda Toledo said

    Hi Kevin!

    You might want to check out secret suppers. An acquaintance of mine does this and the experience, as a diner, is very intimate and wonderful. As the chef, you’d get to choose your own menu, and be able to visit with all that attended. It sounds like what you’re looking for.

    Good luck!

  5. Hi,

    Here is my article and slideshow just published which includes your great business!

    Should you want, please go ahead and include my article and slideshow on your website

    your webmaster will see my byline and copyright at base of article (which must be included please) after the vendor list in the article.

    New Taste Marketplace a San Francisco food market with a cause July 16, 2011 by Mara Rogers
    And the companion slideshow by Mara Rogers for New Taste Marketplace a San Francisco food market with a cause July 16, 2011

    http://www.examiner.com/culinary-travel-in-san-francisco/mara-rogers

    I hope you love the article and slideshow!

    Mara Rogers

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