Jen Nathan Orris [00:00:05] This is Skillet, the podcast where we cook together and listen to each other. I’m Jen Nathan Orris. I want to take you back to a sweltering afternoon in early September. I’m at Chow Chow, a new culinary festival in Asheville, North Carolina. There’s a ton of people milling around the park, sipping cocktails and nibbling on pork belly. I’m super excited to meet up with Cass Herrington, our Season 1 co-host, and today’s guest chef Clarence Robinson from Cooking with Comedy Catering.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:00:36] After much anticipation and planning, it’s a very first live taping of Skillet.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:00:42] As we’re getting our mics clipped on and ingredients in place, we find out that we actually have 30 minutes, not 45, to make the episode. But there’s a good reason. Chef Jose Andres has just given an impromptu talk about the food relief work he’s doing with hurricane victims in the Bahamas. We’re glad to share the stage with the world famous chef and humanitarian, but it did throw some of that planning out the window.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:01:05] Luckily, today’s storyteller, chef Clarence Robinson, is brilliant. He’s funny and real, and he totally surprised us with his great singing voice. We rolled with the punches during technical difficulties and kept at it when a fleet of fire engines peeled out of the station next to the stage. Clarence introduces himself at the beginning of the show, so I don’t need to give you much background. Just sit back and imagine yourself at Chow Chow with a tiny cocktail or little plate of something tasty balanced on your lap.
Clarence Robinson [00:01:34] Let’s get it started.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:01:35] All right.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:01:38] Hi, everyone. This is Skillet, the podcast where we cook together and listen to each other. I’m Jen Nathan Orris, this is Cass Herrington with the microphone, and our chef today is Clarence Robinson. So before we get started, I want to tell you a little about what we usually do on Skillet. It is a podcast about food and memory that combines cooking with deep conversation. We collaborate with a chef or a home cook and we ask them to pick a meaningful dish, something that reflects their childhood or a turning point in their adult life. We go over to the chefs home and we cook together. I record all the cooking sounds and we talk about the memories that come up. So we usually do this over the course of a whole afternoon. We get to know each other, we cook together and then we sit down and talk. Usually for a couple hours. Then I go home and edit down the best parts of the cooking and weave in the interview. It usually takes about 20 hours to produce one of these episodes, but we’re going to do it today live all in 45 minutes. So things might go wrong and might be total chaos, but it’ll definitely be exciting. So I’m really glad you’re all here. Let’s dig in.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:02:49] We have a tradition on Skillet of having folks introduce themselves. So I’ll introduce myself just real quick. My name is Jen Nathan Orris and I’m the host of Skillet. I’m also a journalist and I’ve been reporting on food and agriculture for about eleven years.
Cass Herrington [00:03:06] I’m Cass Herrington. I’m a news reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. But I helped launch Skillet with Jen. So you might hear me in Season 1, but I’m here today to record cooking sounds.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:03:18] Yeah. With that big microphone. Thanks, Cass.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:03:21] And now at the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Let’s meet our chef, Clarence Robinson. Go for it, Clarence.
Clarence Robinson [00:03:28] [sings parody of ‘My Perogative’ by Bobby Brown]
Clarence Robinson [00:04:22] All right. Enough of that.
Clarence Robinson [00:04:28] This part of the show is going to be kind of Cooking with Comedy.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:04:31] That was not scripted.
Clarence Robinson [00:04:32] It was not scripted, but I had to drop it. I had to drop it.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:04:35] I never heard it. We never heard that song. But I’m really glad that all y’all did.
Clarence Robinson [00:04:38] Yes. Yes. My name is Chef Clarence Robinson. I’m from Asheville, North Carolina. I traveled a little bit in my life. I was a military brat. So I got to stay in California and Washington and Hawaii just to name a few spots. I came back here to Asheville to conquer this culinary scene. I’m an AB-Tech graduate, worked at The Grove Park Inn, Another broken egg, Biscuit Head, Sunny Point, Chestnut’s, Mayfield’s, and The Veranda out in Black Mountain. I ran the Asheville Event Center. And I also took pride in running the Western Carolina Rescue Mission kitchen for two years while feeding the homeless. So I’ve been feeding five stars to the homeless in my community. I do cooking demos and cooking classes with the youth. Trying to show them a new way. And I’m trying to get myself out there. I’m trying to work on getting me a food truck and basically just push this food.
Clarence Robinson [00:05:31] So today I’ll be cooking sauteed chicken with a sweet potato puree, and some black sesame broccoli.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:05:41] Yeah. And you gave this dish a name, right?
Clarence Robinson [00:05:44] So I call this this the Bruce Leroy, because when I was coming up, it was a guy in my community. He was real smooth. And his name was Leroy, of course. And then I get the Bruce from the kung fu guy, Bruce Lee. You know, everybody want to be like Bruce Lee when we were coming up.
Cass Herrington [00:06:00] Why did you choose this dish?
Clarence Robinson [00:06:02] I chose it because it is different and it’s something nobody ever you know, they never did it before. I like to kind of create along as I go. So I create this just for Chow Chow. Just so I knew I knew nobody else would have this. I knew you weren’t going to see this nowhere else. So I’m going to get to cooking.
Cass Herrington [00:06:18] Yeah. So does the Bruce Leroy qualify as soul food?
Clarence Robinson [00:06:22] Yes, it’s soul food, of course, because every culture has soul food. Every culture has that grandma that’s in the kitchen that got her recipes there. She’s there in her nightgown with those slippers on. She’ll want nobody to know. So everybody got their grandma. You don’t matter what race you are and what culture, and I’m trying to let everyboyd see that. So I create, I put soul food with Italian, I put soul food with Chinese, I put soul food with Jamaican. It don’t matter. I’m kind of I like to freestyle like that, you know.
Clarence Robinson [00:06:52] So I’m cutting this off off the stalk.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:06:54] Great. So while you’re chopping and prepping and all that good stuff. We’d love to hear a little bit more about your life. So you said you were born in Asheville, and I’m interested in what your life was like when you were younger.
Clarence Robinson [00:07:07] Oh, my life coming up, I was a troubled youth. I’m not going to lie. So I kind of came up and I was struggling. I was always the leader, but I always followed the wrong crowd. So, you know, my mom, my mom was very she was she was on me hard. Me and my brother, we was spoiled. Everybody always said we were spoiled. She took care of us real good. And my family was all around. Always seen all the women cooking in my family. So that’s what made me want to be a chef. And I never seen men and cook.
Clarence Robinson [00:07:34] So I’m cutting this pepper kind of smooth. You’ll see that, right? Yeah. Y’all like that?
Jen Nathan Orris [00:07:40] You know, you said that things were a little rough when you were coming up. And I’m wondering if there was a turning point for you, a point where something happened in your life or you had to make a change.
Clarence Robinson [00:07:52] Most definitely. Back in 2007, I lost a cousin. He was 14. He got shot five times and over on Riverside Drive. And that was right in the same week of of my interview at The Grove Park Inn. So I really decided that day when I was going through that, because I could either gave up, you know, on trying to chase my career or I could really use that for strength. And that’s what I decided to do. I used it for strength and I ran with it. I made a way. I started out I worked at Grove Park Inn in 2007. And that was my job. I was there for about four years. So, you know, it was just the opportunity, thanks to a great person. And it kind of opened up doors for my culinary career. And so that’s it. You know, that motivated me to want to reach out to the youth and do stuff with them and showed them a different way so they wouldn’t be caught up like my cousin did.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:08:44] Maybe you could talk a little bit about some of the youth programs that you do. You were telling us about a program you were involved with this summer with the Asheville Middle School students?
Clarence Robinson [00:08:55] Asheville Middle School. I’m doing a program with FEAST. They basically work with kids in the middle schools and in all the schools. And they they they provide the food. They want everybody to eat healthy. So is no meat. You know, they want the kids to eat vegetables. And that turned them on to a lot of vegetables that they wouldn’t eat. You know, kids don’t like vegetables. They on the whole meat diet. All meat, candy and soda. We already know that. So that’s what I did. I produced that. Also, with YTL Training. I worked with them also. So this is the great opportunity for my community to see me in a different light.
Clarence Robinson [00:09:31] My mushrooms, I’m getting together. But yeah, I love that. A lot of people cook, you know, so differently when you cooking for a check. And if you’re cooking because it’s your passion, you’re cooking for love. And that’s what I do. I create, I work for a lot of different chefs that I didn’t like their attitudes. And I felt like I was going to always keep a positive attitude when I was in the kitchen. That’s why I came up with Cooking with Comedy. I felt like that it will go a long way. You know, personality. Plus, you know, my food. Love the laugh, too. This is how I marinate my food. It’s my secret ingredient. I sing to it. I tell a couple of jokes and that’s it, you know?
Jen Nathan Orris [00:10:07] Yes. So why combine cooking and comedy? Like, why do you think they belong together?
Clarence Robinson [00:10:13] Because it’s just good for the body. I mean, you know, everybody loves to laugh and everybody loves to eat.
Clarence Robinson [00:10:18] This is a Japanese sesame oil I’m putting on my chicken.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:10:21] So is good for the body. You know, I mean, that’s the perfect answer and there’s no way around it. People love to laugh and people love to eat. So my personality came, you know, it brought me to cooking and cooking brought me to my personality. So the kitchen saved my life. So I love it.
Cass Herrington [00:10:41] How did cooking save your life? What do you mean by that?
Clarence Robinson [00:10:43] Cooking saved my life, because it kept me out as areas that I didn’t need to be in. You know, when I was working, it kept me out of people. This is some garlic salt right here. Just a little bit, you know. But it kept me out of situations where, like, if I’m at work I might hear something done happen in the neighborhood that I was used to hang in or something like that or even just help me be able to provide for my family and being able to show people a different look, say my life completely. Also, I didn’t want to drop this off real quick. If you want to find me on the Food Network Cutthroat Kitchen. It is aired about five days ago. I didn’t know it was going to air is like it took them almost two years. I recorded it back in 2016. It’s season 15, episode four. Ya’ll find me now.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:11:30] What was it like to be onFood Network. What did it feel like? Was it fun?
Clarence Robinson [00:11:35] Oh, man. I thought I was being pranked. I’m going to move over here. Drop this chicken. I already got my pan warmed up. I’m using the skillet over here about a drop, about two tablespoons all in here. But yeah, food network. It was surreal. And what make us so bad is I went out there on my birthday. So I thought they was pranking me like, oh, the sizzle. That’s what ya’ll want to hear.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:12:01] Sounds good.
Clarence Robinson [00:12:02] I don’t want to disappoint you, but we’re not passing out samples. I don’t know if you heard that, but I did my samples yesterday. So you just gotta get a little closer. We’d like to get right here and look closer. You can smell it. Yes. You’re all right, ma’am with umbrella. Can I get that? I’m sweaty up here. I need you up here. I’ll give you a piece of chicken. I need you right now.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:12:24] Yes. You talked a lot about chasing dreams and persistence. Yes. Are there some dreams that you’re chasing now?
Clarence Robinson [00:12:30] Right now. And a food truck dream. It’s like I’m tired of working for people with my talent. I’m still doing my catering and I’m still still working for people. But I feel like I want to be full time working for myself. Because you aren’t. You know, you. You pay yourself what you worth. A lot of time working for people that don’t want to pay us what we work. We know what we worth because it’s on the resumé, you know? So it’s like I mean, I’m I’m pushing and I’m pushing my brand. And sooner or later, I will have my food truck and I’ll move up from there.
Cass Herrington [00:13:00] And I remember you saying at one point it’s it’s gonna be a soul food truck, right?
Clarence Robinson [00:13:04] Yeah.
Cass Herrington [00:13:04] So what are you envisioning with that?
Clarence Robinson [00:13:07] I’ll be doing the same thing I’m doing now. I want to have a open, open food truck. I want to have monitors on the inside and outside to where people was viewing me. You know, inside and outside, cooking and doing my thing. I want to entertain and cook. That’s that’s that’s my dreams. And that’s what I want to do. Like I say, I wrote down everything that I want to do in my life. Once I buckle down and say what I wanted to do and I say every dream I want to complete, I say I wanted to be on TV one day. And I chased it and it happened. So I said I wanted to create my own and I chased it and it happened. So I believe we create your own space in your life, whatever you want to come your way. Your response to things is how your life is going to be, how you’re going. And you see, what I’m saying is not it’s not how you, it’s how you respond and then it’s how you deal with it at the same time. You see what I’m saying? So that’s how I look at life. I like to stay humble. I’m a humble person. You know, I try not I try not to let certain things get to me, but we’re only human.
Cass Herrington [00:14:06] All right. So tell the listener, because we’ve got two audiences here. The one here and the one listening to the podcast. So for those who can’t see, what’s going on?
Clarence Robinson [00:14:15] So right now, we’re sauteing this chicken up. I want to get that good golden brown on there. It’s almost there.
Cass Herrington [00:14:22] It smells so good.
Clarence Robinson [00:14:23] Yeah. Smell real good. So we’re going to cook this through. We’re going to go about five minutes or five minutes on each side. And then what I’ll do then, I’ll just go ahead, cut it up and I’ll get it back in the pan. Then go from there. A little brown sugar right here. It’s going to help it caramelize and get that crust that you want.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:14:43] Yeah, I can smell that already. The brown sugar right there in the pan with the chicken. Smells great. So for the Ingles videos that you do. Do you get to pick what you’re going to make?
Clarence Robinson [00:14:55] Oh, yeah. I get to create that. That’s the best thing about being a chef. You know, you’re in your own lane with creativity. You could put different things together in your mind. I cook with my personality. So you never know what I might come up with. But that’s what I do. You know, I cook with my personality.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:15:15] So tell us more about how you infuse cooking with comedy. So we saw your song today, which was awesome. And a really fun surprise for us. What are some other ways that you involve comedy with cooking.
Clarence Robinson [00:15:27] Oh, I do. I do skits, too.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:15:29] You do?
Clarence Robinson [00:15:30] Yeah. I impersonate different people in my family. I love doing that. I love talking like my grandma. Come Well, you better sit down, right? Yeah. Eat your green beans. Stuff like that. And my grandma used to make me eat pimento cheese. I did not like that.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:15:43] Not a fan.
Clarence Robinson [00:15:45] Where’s my pimento cheese fans? Oh, that’s my sister. Oh, I’m sorry, sis, sorry about that. I didn’t mean, to call you out. OK, rice is going. And what I’m going to do, I’m going to try to get everything cooking in the same pot. That’s what you do. A lot of people want to wash out their pan when they I finish sauteeing and cooking in it. No, you use that same thing. That’s where all the flavors at. Throw a little water in there, you know, deglaze with soy sauce or whatever you like. It’s almost there. I’m going to pull that and start cutting it. How the time looking?
Jen Nathan Orris [00:16:18] Let’s check how we’re doing on time. So like I said, we normally do this over the course of about four hours and today we’re doing it like 30, 45 minutes. So we have about 20 minutes left. I think we’re right on time.
Cass Herrington [00:16:31] We’re coasting. We can have a drink.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:16:32] Yeah, right. So much get food and drink here at the Chow Chow festival. It’s really been nice.
Clarence Robinson [00:16:37] Yesterday I was in the grilling area. Man, that was amazing.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:16:41] Yeah. Talk a little bit about that. So you were asked to be one of the grill masters here?
Clarence Robinson [00:16:45] Yeah. Grilling in the park yesterday. What did I cook yesterday? It was chicken. What kind of chicken did I do? All I did a Cajun bulgogi chicken with peach barbecue, which I brought the peach barbecue today. And I did curry cabbage and grilled peppers and it was amazing.
Clarence Robinson [00:17:10] What are you doing? Oh, hey.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:17:14] Yes, just a little photo op here from an audience member,
Clarence Robinson [00:17:20] All right.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:17:22] All right. Chicken’s coming out in and out of pan.
Clarence Robinson [00:17:25] I just want to show y’all. This is what you’re looking for.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:17:29] Can you see?
Cass Herrington [00:17:31] Gorgeous. Caramelized.
Clarence Robinson [00:17:33] Sorry about that…..
Jen Nathan Orris [00:17:43] We might be having some mic problems.
Clarence Robinson [00:17:43] Check, check.
Cass Herrington [00:17:47] It’s the magic of live.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:17:49] Yes. This is very live. Which makes it fun, right? So we’re doing a little mic check. All right.
Clarence Robinson [00:18:00] OK. Now.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:18:02] You’ve got some rice on the stove, too, right?
Clarence Robinson [00:18:04] The rice is on the stove. It’s about ready.
Cass Herrington [00:18:07] That cooked up quick.
Clarence Robinson [00:18:11] Yeah.
Cass Herrington [00:18:11] So what kind of rice do you use? It’s bright yellow.
Clarence Robinson [00:18:15] I’m using yellow rice. That’s my go to.
Cass Herrington [00:18:16] How come? Is that what you grew up with?
Jen Nathan Orris [00:18:19] No, actually I grew up on white rice, everybody grown up with white rice, but I switched to yellow rice because it holds more flavor. And did it hold longer. The white rice, it kind of disolves and gets soggy and mushy. It turns into mashed potatoes. I don’t want mashed potato rice. So that yellow rice, it holds a lot firmer for you.
Cass Herrington [00:18:41] It’s pretty, too.
Clarence Robinson [00:18:41] Yes.
Clarence Robinson [00:18:43] And then you really don’t have to season it. Like I got high blood pressure. So I like to cook with less salt as possible. I use those other ingredients and other things, but I kind of use less salt. That’s the way I decided to eat because I noticed that health problems come from the way we eat. And it does. Like I did research on it. And you can cut out a lot of health issues if you eat certain things like like honey, honey helps out on your blood pressure and stuff like that. Honey is my secret ingredient. You know, I don’t know of any chefs is listening, but that is my secret ingredient, honey. And it brings out everything.
Clarence Robinson [00:19:24] I’m sauteeing up my peppers right now.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:19:27] Again, it smells really good up here.
Cass Herrington [00:19:29] And this is the same skillet that the chicken was in so it’s going to have a lot of flavor.
Clarence Robinson [00:19:34] That’s right, yeah. Because this is not a vegetarian dish. So, you know, I can cook everything in the same pot.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:19:41] So you’re just pouring a little bit of water into the rice pot.
Clarence Robinson [00:19:43] Yes, adding a little more water to my rice, you know, because I wanted to get a little bit more soft so I can when I plate it up, is going to stick together.
Cass Herrington [00:19:53] Well, Clarence, I know a lot of your work. You’re passionate about visibility for young black youth. Can you talk a little bit about growing up in Asheville and maybe any role models in your own life?
[00:20:05] Well, when I came up in Asheville, we had we had a lot to do because the community centers own in my area, I grew up on the south side of town, so Reid Center was a go to center that we go to and just, you know, have fun. I did a lot of activities for the kids. We had a lot of elders that looked after us. And it seemed like once the elders started dwindling and the younger guys came into town, you know, you got a little crazy. So that’s why I’m trying to work and reach the youth, you know, because we’re losing a lot of our elders. And, you know, a lot of times a lot of people don’t want to deal with these young guys. And if, you know, I feel like what I’ve been through in my life, I could reach a lot of folks. And I’ve been doing it. I’ve been doing it for a while. You can Google A Mother’s Cry: He’s Still My Child. My mother wrote a book about me. They use it in the court systems here in Buncombe County. It’s my story. It’s my whole story. Everything that I’ve been through, my journey and life decisions that I made and everything like that.
Clarence Robinson [00:21:05] My peppers is almost there.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:21:11] How does it sound, Cass? Can you hear some great sizzling noises?
Cass Herrington [00:21:15] It sounds delicious. We have ASMR fans on the show.
[00:21:18] Anybody like ASMR? Those whispery videos. This is kind of like a food take on that. With all the good cooking sounds that end up being the soundtrack for the episode. So today, not as much, but one of our regular tapings, we’ll kind of weave all those good sounds in with the interview. And so instead of having music, we have these great cooking sounds. But today you’re getting it all at the same time. The cooking sounds, the conversation, us on stage, the mic problems. It’s all very exciting.
Clarence Robinson [00:21:47] Yeah. There’s a part of the show. Even the sweat. I like to make it seem like I’m working very hard to try to get a raise on my job. It don’t work, you know.
Cass Herrington [00:21:59] So what would your vision for Asheville’s food scene be in terms of accessibility?
Clarence Robinson [00:22:11] I don’t really know how to put that because I feel like Asheville, we’ve got a large food scene. I feel like it’s already accessible, you know. But it’s switching over. You know, we already know it’s switching over to the gluten-free and the vegans and I love cooking like that. You know, I actually cooked at the the Roots Festival at the Lutheran Camp Ground. I cooked for about 250 people for three days and I had one regular bar, one regular buffet. And then I had to have the gluten-free and the vegan, and the allergy, and the dairy and all that. So I’m pretty much, I love the food scene in Asheville. I love how it switches up. And I mean, I’m pretty much like I say, I can get into any restaurant and work it.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:22:53] But at the same time, you’re involved with this program with the middle school kids. And then also your Western North Carolina Rescue Mission work. Why is it important for you to cook at these high level restaurants like the Grove Park Inn, these very prestigious people and places, but then also to cook for people in the community at the same time? Like, why do you both?
Clarence Robinson [00:23:14] Because I feel like that, you know what, that unites everybody. I feel like what I’m doing, I don’t want everybody to look at, I’m going to make it very clear, I don’t want everybody to look at my people and stereotype us in ways. I want you all to know that we all the same. It’s one blood. So what I’m doing, I done cook for the homeless. I done been in a millionaire’s houses. I done travel to South Carolina, you know, I done been in people’s houses that I never thought that I could be in, you know, you know when people stereotype. So I’m opening up doors in my community for opportunity. I feel like, you know, and I’m doing it. This Cooking with Comedy thing. It is gonna take off. And I will make sure of that and I’m starting with the youth, because them boing to be the ones that I train, you know? That’s what I do with my cooking classes.
Clarence Robinson [00:23:59] I put a little water here to loosen up the sweet potatoes, but my cooking classes, I teach personalities, personality skills and how to stay positive in a work environment, because we can get discouraged, you know, working for folks, like I say. So that’s how I do. And I just I keep it. I keep it. I keep laughter involved. I keep love involved and that’s it. You know, it’s great. This whole thing is a great opportunity. I actually started the cooking classes at Green Opportunities. My brother is the co-founder of Green Opportunities. And we sat down and we when we spoke, we came up with the cooking classes for the youth. So and it was it was a great opportunity. It was almost, I say, about ten years ago. I feel like I’m in this for my life and I’m I’m in it. You know, working on different things. And I’m not going to stop like I want to reveal some of the stuff that I’m doing, but I’ll just keep it. Keep it a secret until it comes out.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:25:06] You’re holding out on us. You’ve got big details on you’re future you’re not telling us?
Clarence Robinson [00:25:10] Yeah, a little bit, you know.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:25:12] You don’t have to tell us. It’s all right.
Clarence Robinson [00:25:16] I can say it like this, once you make it from the small town Asheville and you make it to Food Network, you best belive you’re getting watched. They’ve been watching me for a while. I got a show that I’ve been writing and I’ve been working on and I feel like I don’t want to give it to nobody, I’d rather do it myself. So I’m working on it. What what time we got? Bout ready to plate up.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:25:38] Yeah, I’d say it’s about time to plate things up.
Cass Herrington [00:25:41] So sweet potatoes coming out of the skillet. My favorite vegetable.
Clarence Robinson [00:25:46] I love sweet potatoes. I make a sweet potato salad. Nobody ever heard of it and it’s so good.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:25:55] You make it on the Ingles video.
Clarence Robinson [00:25:57] Oh, yeah. Yeah. I got that recipe on a Ingles video. And I also got magazines for you guys with some recipes in there.
Cass Herrington [00:26:03] You’ve introduced a new piece of equipment here.
Clarence Robinson [00:26:06] Oh, this is my ninja. If you ain’t got a ninja in your kitchen, you don’t know nothing. But this right here, it grinds up meat, helps you with your sauce. Makes you a sauce boss.
Clarence Robinson [00:26:29] Gimme some of that water right there. This water, loosen it up. And I’ll tell you, man, when I worked at the Western Carolina Rescue Mission Kitchen, that was the greatest experience ever, man. You know, because the pride that I took in feeding someone that, you know, that was their last meal could be a last meal of the day or their first meal of the day. But just the great opportunity and they still recognize me when I’m you know, if I’m in the streets, man, they show me love. And I did the same thing down there for them. I entertained them. I made them laugh. You know I did it all. They felt like there was really a part of society because a lot of times the homeless feel like they’re not a part of society because how people look at them, you know. So you never, you know, never judge a book by its cover, but never judge a book by its color.
Cass Herrington [00:27:15] And a good meal can be life changing.
Clarence Robinson [00:27:15] You’re right. Yeah. And you know what? I worked at the Princess Anne Hotel and I did a five course meal by myself. Another chef’s menu. My chef walked out on me right when I was getting trained. So maybe like a day later I was told it. We need a plate to plate this up. I was told that they had some food that they had sold already. And I think it was Hickory Nut Gap meat. Yeah. It was like, I had to I had to work another chefs menu and I did it by myself. So and it was like I say it was five course. And from now, I build, I got I got relationships. I built a relationship with these guys, man. And it was great, man. I’m going to be working with them, too, eventually.
Cass Herrington [00:28:17] OK. Here’s a question. When you’re cooking, what kind of music do you like to listen to?
Clarence Robinson [00:28:21] I listen to everything. Oh, he done brought my plates. He snatched my plates, my catering plates. like to be reimbursed. You back there in that blue thing, I know where you’ve been.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:28:34] I’ll reinburse you the ten cents for this paper plate.
Clarence Robinson [00:28:36] I need a beautiful plate. I need a plate with sparks on it and had it’s own sound. Y’all doing all right over there? Listen, I like the thumbs up, but ain’t no samples over here. Sorry. All right. I appreciate the thumbs up, though. Make sure do. I’m about to plate up on this fancy picnic plate. At this $250 event. These are my plates, too, remind y’all.
Cass Herrington [00:29:13] We should describe for our listeners.
Clarence Robinson [00:29:14] This is a paper plate. It is a paper plate that will soon be soaked. It’s going to turn into a napkin.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:29:24] All right. I think we’re ready to plate up. We’re almost out of time.
[00:29:29] And I y’all enjoyed yourselves. And don’t forget, I got cards, too, but please, Google Clarence Robinson and see what I’m doing. Please check me out because I’m trying, I’m making a name for myself. And I’m I’m not playing, I’m not playing around.
Cass Herrington [00:29:44] This is my favorite part. The plating, the eating. We’re very, you know, intentional about not including mouth sounds. We will describe the food for you.
Clarence Robinson [00:30:01] I make a good rooster sound. You like that? Drove me crazy that my neighbor had about 50 of them.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:30:10] Oh, for real? In Asheville?
Clarence Robinson [00:30:10] Yeah, in Candler.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:30:10] All right. So tell us what you’re plating up here, Clarence.
Clarence Robinson [00:30:12] So right now I’m plating up my chicken. I just I just dropped this sweet potato puree right on there. And that’s where you could just slide it on and slide the chicken through there.
Cass Herrington [00:30:23] You did that so lovingly. That was beautiful.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:30:30] Onion bae, like salt bae.
Clarence Robinson [00:30:34] That was a good one. OK. It’s my peach barbecue sauce. I’ll just put that on there like that. And that’s it.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:30:43] Beautiful. So tell us the name of the dish again.
Clarence Robinson [00:30:45] The Bruce Leroy.
Clarence Robinson [00:30:46] Oh, that’s amazing. No, you know, I forgot my rice. I’ll take that back. It’s not over yet. Not over yet.
[00:30:55] All right. Listen, y’all at home. Fellas, I want y’all to pull out my recipe now. And I want you to get in the kitchen for your wife. Put that apron on and you let her know that you love her and you pull that recipe. And when you start plating up this chicken right here, I want you to put your rice in your measuring cup or whatever and when you drop it. Boom.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:31:18] Ohh, that looks nice.
Clarence Robinson [00:31:25] She’s going to fall in love with you all over again. She’s going to say I want to renew our vows.
Clarence Robinson [00:31:25] OK, I’m done. Thank you.
Cass Herrington [00:31:26] Clarence, thank you so much.
[00:31:31] Thank you Clarence. All right. Well, thanks so much for coming to this live taping of Skillet podcast. It was all very exciting. And I’m so happy you were here. Check us out: SkilletPodcast.com and enjoy the rest of the festival.
Cass Herrington [00:31:53] Bon Appetite, y’all.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:31:53] Thanks so much to Chef Clarence Robinson from Cooking with Comedy Catering. You’ll find a link to his Facebook page and website in our show notes. We also have photos from the live show on our website – skilletpodcast.com – and a link to donate if you want to be next week’s food sponsor. Follow us @SkilletPodcast on Facebook and Instagram and check out some of our other episodes if you’re new to the show.
Jen Nathan Orris [00:32:17] Coming up next time on Skillet.
[00:32:27] [cooking sounds]
Jen Nathan Orris [00:32:31] We sizzle and fry with Reina Gascon-Lopez, the chef and writer behind the Sofrito Project. We visit her in Charleston, South Carolina as she cooks a Puerto Rican feast that reminds her of her homeland. She also talks about her journey from the tech world to fine dining and why she’d rather fix supper than iPhones. Hit subscribe in your podcast app so you don’t miss it. See you in two weeks for the next episode of Skillet.