Photos courtesy Robert Irvine

Introduction

Robert Irvine is like a steam locomotive, pushing through life with power, excitement and focus. His accomplishments are legion–two television shows, hundreds of guest appearances on other long-running cooking shows, several cookbooks and a fitness program. He is also harnessing his creativity to include two restaurants: Robert Irvine’s Public House at the Tropicana in Las Vegas, and a new venture in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Fresh Kitchen.

Working with Irvine can be rough. He’ll tell you himself, “I’m intense and demanding, but I’d argue that it’s in the best possible way. Just ask someone who works for me,” he said laughing.

And it really may be the best way. Matt Tuthill, GM of Robert Irvine Magazine said, “Robert has a certain standard and it’s incumbent on everyone who works for him to reach that standard. Day-to-day, does it get as intense as it does on Restaurant: Impossible? Not really, thank goodness. But that standard is a great thing for everyone on the team. Robert’s an incredibly high achiever. By reaching for his standard you wind up doing things you never thought possible.”

Pushing employees to do their best work. Pushing restaurant owners to do the impossible. There is a theme here. Irvine wants people to be their best selves. 

Irvine and Fitness

His interest in fitness, is a good example. “I am passionate about fitness and its transformative power. I believe fitness is a gateway to other types of achievement: Once you make your body strong, healthy and able to do things it couldn’t do before, it sparks a change in the mind. You start to wonder, ‘What else is possible if I put my mind to it?’ And since your body feels great, you go out and try to do it! Success and fitness are intimately intertwined for a lot of people for this very reason. It certainly is in my case."

Irvine, who grew up reading Muscle & Fitness and lifting with a used weight set, realized a teenage dream of his own. In April 2019, he was on the cover of Muscle & Fitness. As he says, “Not bad for a guy in his 50’s."

The Way His Mind Works

He could go in so many directions–more TV shows, new books, more restaurants. It is his self-discipline and focus that keep his projects in check. Here is how he approaches new project opportunities:

"I approach every project by asking a lot of questions, 'What does this add to the world? What’s different about it? What makes it great? Is it the best use of my time and my team’s time?' If I can’t come up with good answers to those questions, then it’s a pass. If I can, then I know I’ll be able to figure out all the other questions, like how, when, etc. If you’re passionate about something, you figure out the answers to all the other questions."

The Robert Irvine Foundation

One project that passed the test? Providing badly needed services to first responders and those who have served in the military. The Robert Irvine Foundation has now raised over $1.2 million toward that cause. Individuals and organizations such as the USO and the Gary Sinise Foundation have been supported by Irvine’s foundation. One can complete an application online (www.robertirvinefoundation.org) to be considered in the funding process. The granting decision is made in the fourth quarter of each year, based on the number of applications, need and funds available. Several recipient profiles are on the website as is an opportunity to support the foundation online.

The foundation also supports Valor Service Dogs, an organization providing trained service dogs to become the companions of disabled veterans. It is a costly process to raise even a single dog to perform selflessly and obediently. The Robert Irvine Foundation has been able to fund several dogs, changing the lives of the recipient veterans.

Irvine himself has a military background, having served in the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy for a ten year tour of duty. Irvine enlisted at age 15 and simultaneous started his cooking career that included service on Her Majesty’s royal yacht.

According to Irving: “I truly just believe that it’s time to take care of those who take care of us. Everything we enjoy in this country—all the freedom we have to pursue the things we’re passionate about—all of that goes away without the brave men and women of our armed forces. I also believe it’s incredibly important to give back. I’m English by birth and American by choice. I’m incredibly proud of that choice, America accepted me, and I’m proud every time I’m able to give back.”

Partnership with Boardroom Spirits

In November, Irvine was the guest chef for “The Spirit of Lansdale Day” sponsored by Boardroom Spirits. All proceeds for the event went straight to the Robert Irvine Foundation. 

Working with the owners of this new bespoke distillery, Zsuzsa Palotas, Marat Mamedov and Vlad Mamedov, Irvine recognized a kindred philosophy about product ingredients, work ethic, and long-term goals. The result: Irvine is now partner and co-owner of this unique operation.

In early 2016, Boardroom Spirits opened its doors with three product offerings: vodka, gin and rum. The three founders, management consultants-turned-distillers, believed in raw, all-natural ingredients and a highly regulated micro-distilling process. This resulted in a clean, crisp taste that soon was garnering a following.

Because of its size (they actually hand-bottle all products), Boardroom Spirits can afford to be very inventive. It wasn’t long before the founders were experimenting with fruit and even vegetable spirits to the point that the company now has 12 distinct spirits available, with more in the development process.

The company’s “Fresh” series includes Fresh Citrus, Fresh Ginger and Fresh Cranberry. As with all of the other products, these infused vodkas never include any artificial flavors, sweeteners or preservatives. 

Boardroom Spirits is also developing a “Periodic Table of Spirits” that now includes Apple, Beet, Carrot, Pear Bartlett and Pear D’Anjou. Fully distilled from the fruit or vegetable, these spirits are actually classified as brandies (fruit) or distilled spirits specialty (vegetable). To show just how careful these distillers are about ingredients, all of the carrots are hand selected and cleaned for each batch.

Finally, there is a liqueur, Triple Sec, and the future holds a new “bold whiskey.” In addition, Irvine will soon have products from Boardroom Spirits branded with his name. He currently features the company’s existing line in recipes and cocktails at his two restaurants in Nevada and Pennsylvania. All products can be ordered through Seelbach’s (https://seelbachs.com) or requested from Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Nevada, its local distributor.

A Day in the Life

What does it take to be involved in so many projects? Unbelievable drive. 

According to Irvine, “I pretty much go full-tilt. Wake up, hit the gym, go to set, prep, film, take meetings, do interviews…the days are just packed. You can’t approach that schedule with anything less than your full attention and energy.”

It will be interesting to see what Irvine brings to the table in 2020!

Robert Irvine - chefirvine.com

Robert Irvine’s Public House -
troplv.com/dining/robert-irvine-public-house

Tropicana Las Vegas
3801 South Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV

Fresh Kitchen by Robert Irvine -
rifreshkitchen.com

Boardroom Spirits boardroomspirits.com

RASPBERRY + THYME GIMLET

INGREDIENTS

1 oz Boardroom Vodka

1 oz C, Carrot Spirit

2 oz Fresh Lime Juice

1.5 oz Raspberry + Thyme Syrup

Fresh raspberry, to garnish

METHOD - RASPBERRY + THYME SYRUP:

To make the raspberry + thyme syrup: heat equal parts water and sugar to a boil. Add 8 oz. of raspberries puree and 10 sprigs of fresh thyme and let
sit for 1-2 hours, then strain
and cool.

METHOD - COCKTAIL:

Courtesy of Aldine Restaurant. Combine vodka, lime juice, and raspberry + thyme syrup in an ice-filled mixing glass and stir with a long spoon until well chilled. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and top with C, carrot spirit. Garnish with fresh raspberry.

For more recipes go to boardroomspirits.com