As a college student working the fish station at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse, a young Chef David Robinson heard words that would change his life.
A diner said Robinson had prepared the best fish the customer had ever tasted. Currently the chef at Tony's in Loveland, he admits, "I teared up a little (laughs), but that was the moment I said, •Wow, I need to do this.'" And he was soon on the fast track to a career in cooking.
So, Robinson broke the news to his (at first surprised) father that he was forgoing international business and Spanish studies at the University of Cincinnati and headed to what is now the Midwest Culinary Institute. The education propelled him to lucrative positions at Cincinnati's legendary five-star Maisonette and upscale east coast establishments.
Now, back in the Tristate, the New Zealand-born chef admits he has to stifle some cooking urges to appease local diners. "But I've always been a chef, for the most part, who cooks for the audience more than I cook for me," he explains. "It's their money, their food, their experience. As long as they're smiling, that's always the objective."
Robinson believes, without question, that Tony's serves the best steaks in town — both in terms of quality and creative preparation. It's not just ego, he says, but rather what he hears from customers.
The young restaurant also has the ability to tweak the menu, and customer opinions recently resulted in an expanded raw bar and bigger selection of appetizers.
"It's always been my drive, getting guest feedback," Robinson says. "The inspiration, the drive, the passion — it all comes from getting the guest to say, •Wow, that was amazing.'"