Notable Neighbors: Chef Ben Robinson
“With any artist, I think the goal is to become stylized,” says Ben about how he’s evolved as a chef. “You have to have your own signature and develop that. Mine leans toward classic with a modern fusion.” He fondly remembers growing up in the English countryside, developing that signature style of his with an Aga oil-drip stove. “It was just a top-notch burner, and probably about a ton of steel. No one was strong enough to remove the Aga,” he says. “It would probably be too warm for my Florida apartment anyways.”
With his catering company, Chef Ben flies all over America to cook for clients, but when he’s home on the Cape, he enjoys cooking for his parents, two brothers and sister. “It’s a full-time job—they should really pay me,” he jokes. “But really, it’s therapeutic. There are no deadlines.”
Aside from afternoons spent in the kitchen with his mum, Ben has treasured memories of time spent at the Wianno Club, going to Cape League baseball games, and taking out their 15-foot whaler with his brothers. “We traveled everywhere by whaler,” he says, “and we wouldn’t stop bombing around until well after dark.” His memories are ones of classic Cape Cod summers—running down the docks with sand-laden feet, riding bikes around the town with his friends, and trying to wash off the day with a salty dip in Oyster Harbor. “It was just so enchanting,” he says. “We were in our own secret little bubble.”
“I love the food on the Cape,” says Chef Ben. “I love to dig for clams on the beach and make some down-home, Cape Cod food. I still just love the food aspect, and I hope I never lose that. As a chef, it’s important for me to keep it fresh and keep learning.” Some of Chef Ben’s favorite local spots include the Chart Room at Crosby’s—though he still calls it “Keeper’s”—Gina’s by the Sea, and the Wianno Yacht Club. “When I was younger, I’d go to restaurants and think about how I would do things differently, but now I’m just so happy that the cooking is being done for me—and the cleaning,” he says with a chuckle.
“I like people to think about my process,” says Chef Ben about what he wants people to take away from his meals. “I like to coin cooking at my level as simplicity within complexity. We take all of these complicated elements that we need to demonstrate with a meal, and simplify them into certain forms that are simple on the eye and also simple on the palette. It’s about deconstructing everything into something that exemplifies the traditional dish, but it’s done in a very neat, thoughtful manner.”
What’s next for Chef Ben? “It’s exciting,” says Ben, whose adventurous life is always taking him to new places. “So stay tuned.” One thing’s for sure, no matter where he is, what exotic places he travels to, food will always be the one common element in his life that keeps him grounded, passionate and inventive.
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