He first made his name by cooking at hot restaurants in South Florida, but Robbin Haas soon branched out, opening hip hotel restaurants across the country. A native of Buffalo, NY, the selftaught Haas arrived in Florida in 1988 and quickly earned a national reputation for the sundrenched cuisine he turned out at Turnberry Isle Resort, The Colony Bistro, Bang, Red Square and Baleen. Now a consultant, he's also chef/partner at Chispa in Coral Gables. Haas plans to open a second Latin-tinged Chispa in Miami's Doral area this year.
What's with the plans and the laptop?
I'm working on a new place in Atlantic City for Phillips Seafood. It's at The Pier at Caesars.
When's the grand opening?
This summer, if everything goes perfectly.
What are the odds that things will go perfectly?
In this case, high. It seems like everything that could stall the project has already happened to it.
What do you have left to do?
We meet with the review board in New Jersey next week to get the permits.
We should come away with everything we need to start construction. It will be a quick build-out once we get going.
Let's get going on your fridge. What's for dinner tonight?
Glad you asked. I love chicken and it seems like you can never get a great chicken. But I think I've found one and we're having it tonight.
Let us in on your secret.
It's a French breed called Poulet Rouge Fermier. They're raised now in North Carolina.
Where'd you find it?
At a Sysco conference yesterday. This chicken blew me away. Tanglewood Farms is the grower.
At least you've got foie gras and champagne as backup if the chicken doesn't work out.
We're shooting this on the day before New Year's Eve. My wife and I are throwing a party tomorrow with that stuff.
You sound like our kind of host.
Actually, that's not champagne. It's a fantastic Spanish Cava. I get it for $13 a bottle.
Looks like you're big on bacon.
My mother-in-law buys me a membership in the bacon-ofthe-month club every year as a Christmas present.
Sounds like a cool gift.
It is for me. Bacon with biscuits is my standard breakfast now. I use these Pillsbury Southern-Style biscuits.
What's with all the travel books?
They're for reference. I travel all over the world for my job.
Where to next?
Ecuador. A client wants to import fresh fish from there.
So who stays on top of Chispa?
I'm still chef/partner, but more financial partner than operational partner now.
We thought that one was your baby.
Oh, it still is. But Chispa was built as a concept restaurant, not as a chef-driven one. We'll have a second Chispa soon.
Boy, you've got a lot on your plate.
There's always room for more. I'm redoing the menus for the Clevelander now, too.
The Clevelander? That crazy party place in South Beach?
Yes. It's a hotel/restaurant that's being renovated to deluxe standards. We're looking at it as a concept that can be expanded into Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
Good luck with the Atlantic City review board. Maybe you should let them know The Clevelander is on the way.
Photo Credit: Len Kaufman/Black Star