(Photo provided by Stone Balloon Ale House)
On Thursday night’s episode of “Beat Bobby Flay,” local chef Robbie Jester defeated the celebrity Iron Chef at his own game.
Jester, executive chef at the Stone Balloon Ale House in Newark, says winning is “pretty awesome.”
“It feels pretty incredible for everybody to see it,” he says. “I was really happy.”
Jester’s winning dish was shrimp scampi. He says it’s already a popular menu item at the Stone Balloon but that he has a feeling it’s all they’ll be serving tonight.
“Shrimp scampi was something in my wheelhouse,” Jester says. “It was the first sauté dish I ever learned, so it was kind of close to my heart.”
Jester grew up in a restaurant family and started working for his family restaurant, Harbor House, when he was 12. He fell in love with the organization, the prepping and the line before he ever fell in love with food. He says cooking is like putting together the pieces of a puzzle.
“I like to see the mechanics and ways you can shift those gears around,” Jester says.
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In Flay’s game, there are two rounds: In round one, two chefs face off and the winner moves on to round two, where they go head to head with Flay.
“The whole ordeal is generally intimidating, but I really go into it just completely grateful that I’m there,” Jester says. “I keep saying it to everybody—it really is a cliché—but I feel like I’ve already won just being there, so it takes a lot of the pressure off for me.”
This isn’t Jester’s first Food Network appearance; he previously competed on “Guy’s Grocery Games.” Jester says it all started because he was chasing his dream to be on “Top Chef.” He interviewed for “Top Chef,” whose casting team also worked with “Guy’s Grocery Games.” The team liked him and asked him to be on the show. From there, other opportunities opened up.
Jester says he enjoys the competition. He still wants to be on “Top Chef,” but in the future he’d also love to be on “Cutthroat Kitchen,” or any other Food Network shows.