On Holiday: Impossible, Robert Irvine shifted his focus away from restaurants and onto a deserving organization just in time for the holiday season. He traveled to Joplin, Mo., to transform a local Boys & Girls Club that has given so much to its storm-ravaged community after a deadly tornado struck the region in 2011. Unlike any renovation he’d done before, this was Robert’s largest and most difficult mission to date. Robert’s challenge in Joplin was twofold: give a second life to the expansive, multi-purpose space at the Boys & Girls Club facility and cater a special holiday party for a whopping 1,000 people.
In celebration of the season, Robert completed the mission with a bit of holiday cheer, thanks in large part to the generosity of his Restaurant: Impossible team, fellow chef friends and the Lexus Culinary Masters, who increased his time and spending limits from the usual two days and $10,000 to three days and $30,000. After just 72 hours, the Boys & Girls Club in Joplin reopened with secure entrance, bright, colorful walls, a fully equipped kitchen, increased storage and other functional elements that will help the club carry out their kids-first mission.
In a special holiday episode of Restaurant: Impossible, Robert Irvine takes on one of his biggest missions to date. In the spirit of giving back, Robert travels to Joplin, Mo., to revitalize a Boys & Girls Club that served as a safe house after one of the deadliest tornadoes ever hit the town.
Robert’s challenge has two parts. First, he must transform the club into a space that’s inviting for kids and adults alike — all in only three days. Second, Robert must cook a thank-you dinner for 1,000 volunteers in just five hours — luckily he has help from Chef Michael Chiarello and the Dinner: Impossible crew. With a $30,000 budget, this mission will transform not only the club, but the lives of the people who were affected by the natural disaster.
Tune in: Sunday, December 9 at 10pm/9c
Click here to make a donation to the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri, then read how you can help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Facing the imminent closure of their 11-year-old restaurant, Bronk’s Bar and Grill, husband and wife owners, Erik and Tracy Brunkow, turned to Robert Irvine for help in saving their business. This Lake City, Minn., eatery had been serving dishes made mostly from frozen food in an out-of-date, unadorned space, but thanks to Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team, it reopened with a fresh menu and vibrant decor to match. We checked in with Erik a few months after the transformation to see how Bronk’s is doing now.
Immediately after the renovation, sales at Bronk’s grew significantly, doubling during weekdays and tripling on weekends. Erik says that customers have come from near and far to see and taste the changes, and everyone is wowed by the updated decor. “They say it’s brighter, fresher and more open,” he explains. “People are noticing our tin ceiling all of a sudden, which was there originally.”
Bronk’s is still serving the updated menu exclusively, and Erik notes that they’re using only fresh, never-frozen ingredients. He adds that the specialty sauces that Robert created have been extremely well-received by diners. “People want us to bottle them and sell them at the store.”
At Rohrer’s Tavern in North Bend, Ohio, Robert Irvine found an outdated eatery with an unadorned dining space and basic-at-best food to match. Lisa Kendall is the owner of this decades-old restaurant, and she needed Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team to help Rohrer’s avoid a looming closure. We checked in with Lisa a few months after the transformation to see how her restaurant is doing now.
After the renovation, Rohrer’s saw year-over-year growth of $20,000 for the month of September. Lisa explains that while the restaurant used to attract only local customers, it is now “pulling people from other neighborhoods” as well.
“Everyone loves the new look and for the most part loves the menu,” she says. Rohrer’s is still serving most of the menu items that Robert created for them, and they’ve added a few of their previously popular dishes to their list of offerings.
Since Robert left, the kitchen staff has been held “accountable for everything,” Lisa explains. She now challenges them when they tell her that something cannot be done, and says she has “made it clear that I am not just the owner. I am the boss and manager.” She adds, “Criticism is still something that no one in the kitchen likes, but I do it as constructively as possible.”
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Eating lots of great food and spending time with family and friends are some of the things to look forward to when it comes to the holidays. And cooking together is a great way to catch up on old times and make new memories whether it involves a bit of family drama or not.
So what happens when four Food Network chefs are each paired with a family member in a cooking challenge? It’s a competition to see which family cooks the best. Watch Anne Burrell, Alex Guarnaschelli, Robert Irvine and Geoffrey Zakarian battle it out to win a cash donation to their charity of choice. Bobby Deen hosts this Food Network special, which eliminates teams round by round until only one family is left standing.
Tune in: Sunday, November 18 at 10pm/9pm c
In just 90 seconds, FN Dish uncovered the best bites of 2012 (so far) from Food Network stars and Cooking Channel champs at the recent New York City Wine & Food Festival. Get a taste of their dining and at-home experiences: Click play on the video above for exclusive interviews with Bobby Flay, Jeff Mauro, Alex Guarnaschelli, Michael Symon, Robert Irvine, Alton Brown, Bobby and Jamie Deen, Marc Forgione, Marcel Vigneron, Ted Allen and the Neelys.
What’s the best bite you’ve had in 2012, whether it’s something you’ve made or had out? Tell us in the comments below.
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In Corry, Pa., Michele Sventek needed Robert Irvine’s help to give her restaurant, Michele’s, a new look and better food. Perhaps more importantly, she needed Robert to teach her the basics of running a restaurant since she had no experience in the culinary industry. In just two days, Robert gave Michele’s a much-needed overhaul and taught Michele how to best manage her staff and maintain food quality. We checked in with Michele to see how her restaurant is doing a few months after its Restaurant: Impossible renovation.
Michele says that compared to last year, sales have increased “about 40 percent.” Robert wanted Michele’s to achieve $12,500 per month in sales, and Michele is happy to report that she “can see it happening as we progress.”
The new decor at Michele’s has been well received by customers. “Everyone likes the brightness of it, especially the wall between the dining area and the bar, the fireplace (people are excited for winter to see it working) and the mirrors,” Michele explains.
Fans of the popular social game ChefVille and Robert Irvine fanatics can rejoice — the two are coming together on a culinary adventure as they tackle a series of tasty to-dos.
Beginning today, Robert will face his biggest challenge yet as he helps ChefVille players enhance the in-game establishments they have designed by mastering dishes from around the world, while improving their restaurants.
Throughout the next two weeks, ChefVille players can go on a series of quests cooked up by Robert — everything from ingredient cultivation and specialization, dish mastery and customer service — without the actual growing pains of owning a real restaurant. Similar to his role on Restaurant: Impossible, Robert will guide ChefVille players along the way, providing tips and tricks — and a little tough love when necessary.
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When Robert Irvine visited Frankie’s in Three Rivers, Mich., he found a dusty, outdated restaurant with dangerous levels of food safety and a kitchen stocked with more microwaves than pots and pans. After meeting owners Jay Woehrmyer and Tina Wyman, however, he realized that poor management and a lack of leadership were their biggest problems. Robert had just two days to turn around this 13-year-old restaurant and attempt to fix Jay and Tina’s failing partnership. We checked in with Jay and Tina to find out how they and Frankie’s are doing a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible experience.
Since Robert left, sales at Frankie’s have risen 39 percent, and Jay and Tina report that the makeover is attracting new customers. Both count the new open layout of the restaurant among their favorite parts of the decor.
When Robert Irvine arrived at Gusanoz in Lebanon, N.H., husband-and-wife owners Nick Yager and Maria Limon were struggling to keep their six-year-old restaurant afloat. Locals once flocked to Gusanoz to taste Maria’s authentic Mexican food, but growing pains got the best of the restaurant and Maria had all but lost her passion for the business. Robert faced a big and expensive mess to clean up, from the decor to the tired menu. A few months after their Restaurant: Impossible makeover, Nick filled us in on how the new-and-improved Gusanoz is doing.
After a slow start, Nick reports that sales at Gusanoz are now steadily growing. To improve their bottom line, the owners took Robert’s advice and cut down on labor costs significantly: “Our total labor is approximately 28% weekly, slightly higher than the 27% Robert asked us for, but definitely in the right ballpark,” says Nick.