James Robinson, or Chef JR as most of us call him, is a Harlem native who has been the face of the culinary scene in our nation’s capital. Through his catering and events company Kitchen Cray, JR has been able to bring the private culinary experience to celebrities like Tamar Braxton, Bethenny Frankel, Janelle Monae, Amar’e Stoudemire, Anthony Hamilton and DL Hughley. He has also been a contestant on season 13 of “Hell’s Kitchen” and Culinary Fight Night in NYC. What we love about his brand, is that it is all about giving back to his community. We honored him as a DC Power Player in 2014, and are excited to share his insights with you. Keep reading!
Describe your personal brand in three words
Artistic, community-driven, dynamic
30 second elevator pitch, Go!
KitchenCray is a team of private executive chefs who take the experience of having a 5-star meal out of the restaurant and customizes it to wherever our clients desire. The result is a unique, high quality, personalized culinary experience.
Current position and your typical work day
I am the CEO and Founder of KitchenCray. A typical work day consists of checking in with my staff about upcoming events, training new talent, developing menus and traveling between events.
How have you developed your brand?
I have developed my brand by staying focused and true to what I love. I am a family oriented person so that has always driven my decision making when it comes to KitchenCray. As most brands grow they tend to lose touch with the community but my love for my family forces me to maintain the youth and outreach initiatives that helped lead us to success.
How did you garner press coverage and media attention?
Community; KitchenCray has a strong local and social media presence due to word of mouth. This word of mouth is not solely based on client referral, our brand is always out and about in the community. Our work with the Boys and Girls Clubs of DC, and the New York Avenue Men's Shelters caught the attention of several news stations and we catered a number of large-scale events in DC, Miami and NY.
What were the steps you took in college that impacted your professional success?
I studied my craft extensively. I was focused. My goal was to be a master chef and I never shied away from a culinary experience, I always dived in headfirst and struggled with it until I mastered it. And once I reached mastery, I put my own twist on it. This is essentially how I crafted the culinary style that I am known for.
What would you say to a young person who wants to work in your industry?
Never box yourself into one skill, idea or way of doing something. Learn from others and go the extra mile. People always remember you when you go beyond what is asked of you.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
We have just launched a new KitchenCray experience, you can expect us to expand, experiment and innovate the fine dining experiences in more cities throughout the US and we have cookbook that will be released in a few months!
Connect with James