Cho Robert Austin - Cho, Robert Austin

Robert Austin Cho

Biography

Born in Seoul, Korea but grew up in New Jersey during a time when it wasn’t so easy to deal with two cultures. “My parents took Korean food and (smelly) KIMCHI to the park, to the beach.” This made Robert very uncomfortable because he wanted to be “American” and fit in. People didn’t know what kimchi was let alone know that Korea was not part of China or Japan. But at the same time, he found himself putting that funky fermented stuff on his grilled cheese sandwich, pizza, bologna sandwich, and whatever leftovers he could... READ MORE

Born in Seoul, Korea but grew up in New Jersey during a time when it wasn’t so easy to deal with two cultures. “My parents took Korean food and (smelly) KIMCHI to the park, to the beach.” This made Robert very uncomfortable because he wanted to be “American” and fit in. People didn’t know what kimchi was let alone know that Korea was not part of China or Japan. But at the same time, he found himself putting that funky fermented stuff on his grilled cheese sandwich, pizza, bologna sandwich, and whatever leftovers he could find because his parents were working double shifts.

His life took a turn in 2007 while Robert was watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay. He was introduced to wood smoked barbecue, which was not popular in NJ. He bought a little grill and went to the park and tried smoking some ribs and entered a church BBQ cookoff. He won for his ribs and defended his title the following year.

His passion for smoking meats grew and Kimchi Smoke was born. He signed up to be a vendor at some local street festivals including Smorgasburg followed by pop ups throughout NJ and NYC.

In 2016, he opened a small brick and mortar in Bergenfield, NJ and later moved to its current location in Westwood, NJ. His culinary career came to a full circle as Robert appeared on Beat Bobby Flay on February 2018.

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What is your favorite NYC restaurant? And what is your go-to dish? Shake Shack. Shack Burger.What is your ultimate meal? Eating kalbi, kimchi and rice.What three things are always in your pantry? Kimchi, Ketchup, Instant Ramen.If you weren't a chef, what would you be? Hopefully, a QB for the Dallas Cowboys.If you could cook with anyone, who would that be? Edward Lee. He has influenced my style of cooking by taking Southern and Korean elements to a higher level.What’s your favorite NYCWFF memory? Meeting Rachael Ray at Burger Bash '17!