Meet the Chef: Bruce Bogartz of RouXbarb

Bruce Bogartz, executive chef and owner of RouXbarb, stands in front of his restaurant at 130 South Northshore Drive, in Knoxville.

Photo by Rachel Wise // Buy this photo

Bruce Bogartz, executive chef and owner of RouXbarb, stands in front of his restaurant at 130 South Northshore Drive, in Knoxville.

Bruce Bogartz is executive chef and owner of RouXbarb. And chances are, if you've dined at his establishment, you'd think he's been cooking his whole life.

In reality, Bogartz's foray into the culinary field wasn't as serendipitous as one might imagine.

He was working as a dishwasher at Copper Cellar in Knoxville almost 30 years ago when his interest was first piqued.

"For some reason, I got drawn into the whole energy of the kitchen. I mean, it was crazy. It was scary," he said. "It was the kind of place you would wake up sweating about at night. But there's just something about it."

Bogartz went on to earn a degree in economics at Atlanta's Emory University, but he decided on a different plan for his future.

He attended culinary school in Philadelphia and racked up an array of experience in the field before opening RouXbarb in 2008. Bogartz worked for Warner Bros. in Aspen at a private house for seven years; he was the chef for HGTV for 18 months; he's worked at low-end, high-end, small and large restaurants.

But it's clear what he's most passionate about is his current role as executive chef and owner of RouXbarb.

"The ability to take care of people, please people, take a raw product that anyone can get and do something special with it — that's all really gratifying," Bogartz said.

A focus on using fresh, local ingredients is very important to him and is something he feels has "always made sense."

Bruce Bogartz, executive chef and owner of RouXbarb, stands in front of his restaurant at 130 South Northshore Dr. in Knoxville.

Photo by Rachel Wise

Bruce Bogartz, executive chef and owner of RouXbarb, stands in front of his restaurant at 130 South Northshore Dr. in Knoxville.

"We serve seasonal, regional food. We've been part of the farm-to-table movement before it was a catchphrase," Bogartz said. "We do everything from low-brow to high-brow, depending on the moment, whether it be foie gras or barbecue, fresh seafood, game, lots of vegetarian food."

Bogartz has fostered close relationships with area farmers, which enables him to use many fresh, regional products in his cooking — accepting what's available instead of requesting ingredients that may not be in season.

"When I get to cook whatever I want, whatever I'm most inspired by, I do my best, more so than when someone tells me what they want," he said. "And I feel like it's the same with the farmers. I just say, 'I want what you're proudest of.' "

"It's nice to be a responsible part of the community," Bogartz continued. "It's nice to be able to support cottage industries. … But there's just no question that the quality is amazing."

RouXbarb, at 130 S. Northshore Dr. in Knoxville, is a small, stand-alone restaurant. The dining room is compact, with a capacity of just 52.

"As much as the food here, it's also about the experience," Bogartz said. "The space is limiting ... but there is a certain intimacy here. I connect with almost everyone in the dining room. I know what people like, what they don't like. I know what's going on in their lives."

If there's one thing Bogartz is determined to do, it's to please his customers. Time and again, he talks about the importance of providing visitors with a great experience all-around.

But sometimes, he admits, his eagerness and passion are misunderstood.

"If you think you know me and you've never been (to RouXbarb), you've only heard things, you really need to give me a shot," he said. "I'm very outspoken, and ... it's hard when you have your own business. If you come in here and give me the opportunity, I think I can improve your opinion of me and what we do."

And, at the very least, you'll enjoy a great meal.

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Comments » 2

Johnny_K writes:

You would think that after 30 years, Bruce would know how to pass a Health Inspection!

RouXbarb at 130 S. Northshore Drive - Grade: 42

The health department considers a score below 70 as unsanitary so this missed the mark by 28 points.

A kitchen worker working with dirty dishes started handling clean dishes without washing his hands first.

Another employee washed his hands in the three-compartment sink where you're supposed to clean and sanitize pots and pans, not your hands.

Food temperatures were off. The inspector found ribs at 95 degrees, pork at 110 degrees and macaroni and cheese at 120. However, 140 degrees and above is the safe temperature to kill the growth of bacteria.

On the other end of the scale, chicken was at 46 degrees and eggs were at 47 degrees. Forty-one and below is the safe temperature.

The inspector found a potato on the floor.

Chicken was uncovered in the reach-in cooler.

Soiled rags were on a food preparation counter.

babette writes:

in response to educationisforsnobs:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your username says it all!

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