Join me for this new video series where I sit down with local chefs from Indian River County Florida and ask them my Top “ATE” Questions to learn more about them! In this episode, we sit down with my 2021 Golden Fork Awards Chef of the Year, Louis Kolbauer!
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Q&A with Louis Kolbauer
Louis Kolbauer – Well… I didn’t receive any formal training. I went to The University of Florida, and I got a degree in management. I actually realized I had to cook for myself when I left home and I didn’t have my mom there anymore to cook for me, so I started getting creative with what I had. I didn’t have a lot of money in college. I paid for everything. I didn’t take any loans, so it’s unique that some of the things that came out really being poor, really helped Chive become whose Chive is because I didn’t have… I had a lot of Rama noodles and every day I tried to make them taste different, so I made a sauce for this. combining whatever protein I had, and then my roommate started asking for me to make these things for them because they’re good. It was really out of necessity to not eat ramen noodles the same way every day for years. I’ve always been passionate about cooking, I like to create, and I think it helped me become who I am today the struggles that i went through when i was younger to, just take the ordinary and make it something extraordinary.
Louis Kolbauer – Obviously not going to culinary school, I learned a lot in the business working. I actually started in front of the house in the restaurant business, so, the most important thing I learned in college wasn’t at the University of Florida. It was watching the good and bad things from the management and the teams that I worked with when I was in college. I saw a lot of bad things that I knew that I never wanted to be a part of if I did own my own restaurant, so its easy to look back and say this manager was great and I just took everything to go, but I really it’s really the opposite. I’ve watched what these bad managers did and I swore that I would never do that kind of things to my employees, whether it be just pushing people that didn’t have what it took to be there, or not giving people the things that they need to be successful. If you work at one of my restaurants, I will have everything that you need to be successful. From the products being fresh, to the equipment working properly, to the training you need to be successful at it, and if I fail doing one of those things, it’s my fault.
Louis Kolbauer – I really didn’t do a whole lot of culinary like I said before, I wasn’t a back of the house guy. I went to University of Florida, I bartended for years and did very good with bartending. I really didn’t really want to be in the kitchen, but I did take a job as a general manager, of a small Mexican restaurant and i ended up having to help the guys on the line a lot, and when I realized I was pretty good on the line, that it didn’t stress me out, I liked the high volume, I liked to make sure things are done properly quickly.
Louis Kolbauer – I enjoy this field because I love talking to people, I love hanging out, and I love being creative. I also enjoyed that when I was buying and selling houses, so an entrepreneur is who I am and who I really always will be. It’s just when you are an entrepreneur, you find what you’re talented at, and you kind of exploit that because that’s what you’re good at. I didn’t do anything to be talented at, so that’s just what’s in me, so creating stuff, or building stuff, I can see a finished product before I started, so that drives me to finish it. I had that in the construction field when I was buying houses for myself flipping a house.
Louis Kolbauer – I think now that I’m getting older, I’m not in the kitchen as much, I am still creative, I do still cut fish, I do make specialists, but I’m transitioning now more into being a part of the guest experience more than I ever have, because I have a great staff behind me. They are doing the thing, my food is coming out beautiful without me being back there. It’s a hard point to get to, but we are there. I’m really enjoying getting out and being a part of the floor again and talking to customers cause that’s where I started. I didn’t start in the kitchen. I started on the front of the House. Building relationships with customers is always what I want in my business, cause It makes it less work for me. If I feel like I’m hanging out with friends, which I do, but I come out and hang out once I meet my customers and then they come back again and again, and then, you know, years go by, and it’s less about talking about what are you going to be coming next? I’m not worried about it. Like, what are you doing? What’s going on? You been fishing lately? It’s transitioning from being in the kitchen and being able to be creative, which I always want to be there. And when I do have an idea, it gets done and we put it on the specials when I get to see immediately how people liked it, if they do or if they don’t. But my favorite part now in my life being 49 years old is, enjoying the time on the floor with my customers.
Louis Kolbauer – My favorite ingredient always has been and always will be seafood.
Louis Kolbauer – My favorite kitchen tool is a knife, and to be specific what I call back there the sword. I have about a 14-inch filet knife about that long and I use it almost every day cutting the fish very sharp.
Louis Kolbauer – I wouldn’t say an inspiration for the creations, as much as the passion, and I guess it seems silly, I don’t know a lot about. I didn’t go to school, so I don’t have the training of this chef did this, this chef did that. I am like everybody else, what I would see on TV.
Louis Kolbauer – So both Chive and Green Marlin are very different. Chive is my baby. That’s like my first big restaurant here in town. It is a build your own kind of place where you’re going to be a part of the experience. We have lots of creative sauces, we have fresh products, we have steak, pork, chicken, fresh seafood, and shrimp. We have some vegan options and seasonal vegetables. All that stuff is prepared in front of you and in any way that you like it. We have those 35 or so sauces that we make in house. It’s an experience that if you’re not creative, we do have this existing suggestion menu that you’re going to be able to look at and say, OK, I like this. I don’t want to do that. That scares me. I don’t want to be in line and have people behind me. You can sit at the bar and get full service. Don’t have to do anything. I got a checklist, you can knock it out real quick. Green Marlin, totally different. Full service restaurant. I always wanted a family oriented locals restaurant. And I’ve said it before, we are a combination of an Irish pub and a fresh seafood restaurant, that’s who we are at the core of it. Combining those two restaurants, I’m glad I had both of them in this town, because they both offer something very different. When I meet customers at Chive that haven’t been to the Green Marlin and vice versa, it gives me an opportunity, this is my other restaurant, feel free to check it out. I usually have some sort of incentive to get them to go over there, whether it be a margarita or appetizer. Both restaurants are unique. I think the Green Marlin which we’re sitting at right now, appeals to a bigger part of Vero Beach. Vero Beach has an older clientele. Chive is very, it’s not even new anymore, the fast casual theme is about 25 – 30 years old, but in Vero Beach. it’s not as well received as a traditional restaurant, so the green Marlin growth pattern is a little bit higher, but both restaurants are great. Because we only buy fresh products, we go through so much of them because we’re so busy that we buy so frequently, that it doesn’t stay here very long and that’s the key to our business is that our customers come so often, that we had the opportunity to sell so much food and buy so much food.