BWW Interview: Executive Chef Franco Robazetti of SURF CITY and ZEPPELIN HALL in Jersey City
Editor's Note: Broadwayworld.com recently has had the pleasure of visiting Surf City and Zeppelin Hall where we experienced the culinary talent of Chef Robazetti. We highly recommend both venues in Jersey City to our readers.
Chef Franco Robazetti is a native of Venezuela of Italian and Spanish descent. His interest in gastronomy started at a very young age when both sides of his family used to sit around the table and boast about their own unique cuisines. He graduated from the Venezuelan Gastronomic Training Center - Cordon Bleu Program in Caracas and has a Master Baker Certification from the French Culinary Institute in New York.
In Venezuela he worked with the top three Venezuelan Chefs: Sumito Estevez, Constantino Scanu and Pietro Neder in a fine dining steakhouse, five-star hotel and country club across the continent and the Caribbean. In 2001, he opened "Via Claudia Augusta" a co-owned restaurant where he displayed the newest tendencies in Italian avant-garde cuisine.
In 2002, Chef Robazetti moved to Southern Texas where he worked at Saltgrass Steakhouse and Saltwater Grill (Gulf of Mexico) before joining Palm's M&M in 2005. At Palm's he helped design and launch seasonal menus that displayed the new techniques of contemporary and global cuisine using Kobe beef and other delicacies. While working at Palm's, he received the 2005 Best Seafood Appetizer Award from the Texas Restaurant Association, the 2007 Silver Spoon Award for Best Restaurant in the City, and the 2007 Golden Ribbon Award.
In 2009, Chef Robazetti moved to New York City and joined the famous Iridium Jazz Club as Executive Chef, where he featured his signature tapas using a fusion between the Spanish and Italian cuisines he grew up on as well as innovative ways to prepare seafood.
In 2011 Chef Robazetti worked at the well-known Bobby Vans Steakhouse as Executive Sous Chef where he further improved his skills and knowledge of the steakhouse business, demonstrating his talents from Master butcher, to pastry chef.
In 2012, he joined Zylo Tuscan Steakhouse at the W Hotel in Hoboken as Executive Sous Chef and Executive Banquet Chef. He oversaw the main dining room, high volume banquets, in-room service, and the food operation of the hotel's nightclub. His Italian heritage flourished in Zylo, where he added the traditional Pollo Al Mattone cooked under brick, Robiola clam pizza, and his grandfather's recipe of the Cacciucco alla Livornese to the new menu.
In 2013, Franco Robazetti was hired as Executive Chef at the Metropolitan area's largest biergarten and restaurant, Zeppelin Hall in Jersey City and works as Executive Chef each summer at the beach bar and seafood restaurant Surf City also in Jersey City. He conveniently lives on a boat right behind Zeppelin Hall with his wife.
Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure of interviewing Chef Robazetti about his work at Surf City and Zeppelin Hall.
We know that you helm the kitchens of both Surf City and Zeppelin Hall. Can you share with us some challenges of your position?
There are so many challenges overseeing both restaurants. Everything has to be double and triple checked from equipment to staffing to ordering and everything in between. The kitchens alone have over 60 staff members at each restaurant and there is always an interesting surprise waiting for you.
Surf City is answering the need for an outdoor, open-air venue in Jersey City. What have been some of the recent reactions of your guests?
Guests love the atmosphere because it is like a mini vacation without having to travel far away. We even get reactions from our delivery drivers who make it a point that they will be back during their off hours to enjoy the beautiful setting.
You have an exciting Lobster menu at Surf City for the summer. Tell us more about it.
Lobster is something that is very special to us because it is an incredible star that doesn't need much to be delicious. But lobster holds up very well to exciting sauces and ingredients to enhance its sweet, delicate flavor.
We'd love to know more about your teams at Zeppelin Hall and Surf City.
We have some of the best staff that are passionate and excited to work everyday. They handle the pressures of high volume extremely well and are quick on their feet to make sure every guest has a great experience.
Why do you think that your restaurants attract so many Jersey City locals and people from other areas?
Nowhere else in Jersey City or even North Jersey provides the experience or selection that we have to offer. Zeppelin Hall has 140 beer taps and great BBQ and German classics. Surf City is like a taste of the Jersey Shore without having to sit in the traffic to get there with our frozen drinks and wide variety of fresh seafood.
We have to ask this one. Do you have a favorite dish that you are currently serving?
G U A C A M O L E ! It is so fresh and full of flavor and can be topped with a variety of toppings that we offer like habanero peppers and fresh lobster meat.
Do you have any special plans for the future?
We always love to expand and adapt to what works best for our restaurants. Stay tuned to see what we will do next!
For more information on the two restaurants in Jersey City that Executive Chef Franco Robazetti works for, please visit https://zeppelinhall.com/ for Zeppelin Hall and https://surfcitybar.com/ for Surf City.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Chef Franco Robazetti