With more than 25 years in the culinary profession, chef and restaurateur Robert Irvine has cooked his way through Europe, the Far East, the Caribbean and the Americas, in hotels and on the high seas.
And now, Irvine will bring his experience on the Food Network as host of Restaurant Impossible to the Keswick Theatre in Glenside. The show, Robert Irvine Live, a high-energy, multimedia and multi-sensory theatrical experience, will hit the stage on Saturday, Sept. 22.
“We’ve worked hard to create a show that involves everyone in the audience,” said Irvine. “We cook, and honestly I don’t know what I’m cooking until the audience decides what food is to be used — via food that’s all around the theater and interaction with a computer that I talk to. I’ve been to other shows where audiences walk away disappointed. But I worked hard for over a year to make sure this isn’t one of them. My show is fun, up close and true interaction with me. This is really good stuff.”
Irvine, 47, a native of England, joined the Royal Navy at age 15 and soon began to master his kitchen skills. As part of his service, he was selected to work on board the Royal Yacht Britannia where the royal family and their entourages regularly dined.
Later, as part of a guest chef program, Irvine went to work at the White House. During his career he has also fed 6,000 servicemen and women on a U.S. aircraft carrier, as well as plan the menu for a celebrity-studded after party at the Academy Awards.
But it is perhaps his latest venture on TV’s Restaurant Impossible that brings him the most pleasure.
“Nothing is impossible,” the chef said. “But it is important to find the root of a problem and try to find out how it can best be fixed. And that’s what I try to do.”
Irvine said his show happens in real time.
“I know nothing about the people or the restaurant I’m about to get involved with. People who want my help go on a Web site and somebody checks them out. … We find out everything about you before I agree to do the show. Then they send me a plane ticket and all I have to do is show up.”
Ah, but once he does show up, he gets right to work.
“I’ve been accused of being harsh before, but once I get to the restaurant I only have 25 minutes to find out what I need to know to help turn everything around. I have a type A personality where I need everything to be perfect.”
Working with a designer, a builder, two assistants and as many volunteers as can be found, Irvine has two days and $10,000 to do all that has to be done.
“That’s a real two days and real money. After that, there is no more time and no more money available,” he said. “I think my military training has helped me understand how to train people to work together and get things done.”
Aside from working hard on his shows, Irvine also spends a great deal of his time working for various charities, especially children’s charities.
“I think we all have a responsibility to try to give something back,” he said. “As for me, I feel that responsibility deeply, and I just want to know that whenever I leave this earth I’ve left something behind that’s better than when I came into it.” ••
For show times and ticket information, call 215-572-7650.