Chef Spotlight: Executive Chef THOMAS SCHOBORG of Rooney's Oceanfront Restaurant in Long Branch NJ
Darrell Wordelmann, the General Manager for Rooney's Oceanfront Restaurant, has worked with the renowned Long Branch New Jersey spot for 20 years. Wordelmann recently announced the appointment of the restaurant's new Executive Chef, Thomas Schoborg.
As an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University, Chef Thomas Schoborg never expected to end up in the kitchen. He worked with Vanderbilt Dining as part of a work-study program preparing food for catered events for Alumni and Donors. He enjoyed his time in the kitchen so much that he decided to abandon his pre-med major in favor of the culinary arts. After graduating with a business degree, Schoborg moved far from his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia and enrolled in the French Culinary Institute in New York City. While in culinary school, he benefited from having some of the best restaurants in the world in his backyard. He spent extensive time at the Soho landmark The Cub Room, before he took a job as banquet chef at Tribeca's City Hall Restaurant, owned and operated by famous New York City Chef Henry Meer.
While living in Manhattan, Schoborg was introduced to Rosa Mexicano. The original First Avenue restaurant was one of his favorite local hangouts. When he learned that Rosa was opening in Atlanta, he jumped to return to his hometown as part of the beloved NYC restaurant. After six years as Executive Chef with Rosa, having been part of the opening team in Atlanta, Miami, and Washington DC locations, Schoborg took the opportunity to open small Cajun Restaurant, The Cajun Experience, in the Adams-Morgan Neighborhood of DC. Schoborg has had a love affair with Cajun food since his youth when he would travel to Louisiana several times each year. The rich culinary tradition and diverse repertoire of cuisine in New Orleans and Louisiana has always peaked Thomas' interest in Cajun food.
Schoborg later spent three years at the helm of the Washington DC location of the renowned NYC saloon P.J. Clarkes before moving to Monmouth County, New Jersey this summer. As Executive Chef of Rooney's Oceanfront Restaurant in Long Branch, Schoborg is excited to have the opportunity to work with local seafood at one of the Jersey Shore's favorite establishments while embracing his love for Cajun/Creole cuisine and never losing touch with his southern roots.
Broadwayworld.com had the opportunity to interview Executive Chef Thomas Schoborg about his career and Rooney's Oceanfront Restaurant.
What was your earliest interest in cooking?
My grandmother was my earliest influence. She was a Sicilian immigrant and traditionally cooked dinner for the whole family every Sunday night. I would always love to go over a few hours early to help her make sauce, braciole, meat balls, and all kinds of baked items.
Who were some of your career mentors?
I worked for several years for a chef named Ben Grossman in New York City. I'll always be grateful to Ben because he gave me my first line cook job. I had just recently moved to the city from Georgia for culinary school and had absolutely no experience. After being turned down for a job at restaurant after restaurant, Ben took a chance and hired me to work Garde Manger at the Cub Room Restaurant in Soho. Throughout my time in culinary school, I continued to work with Ben as he progressed in his career. He now owns two restaurant in Brooklyn and we continue to stay in touch.
What culinary styles have influenced your career?
I've always loved learning new styles and technique and love ethnic food. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work with people from all parts of the world in various kitchens. During down time, I've loved learning about the native cuisine from my fellow line cooks, chefs, or dishwashers. I've learned more about ethnic food from my cooks than I ever could have by watching TV or reading books.
What do you consider the most distinguishing feature of your work as a chef?
My favorite cuisine/style is New Orleans Creole. I've always loved the city, its intense passion for food and for cooking. I also love how the region managed to seamlessly fuse cuisines from West Africa, the Caribbean, France, and Spain into what is now considered Creole.
What is your favorite meal or meals?
My favorite meal is whatever I am in the mood for. I never have just one answer to that question. My appetite and tastes change almost daily and certainly seasonally.
Rooney's Oceanfront Restaurant is one of the premiere dining establishments along the Jersey Shore offering guests excellent gourmet cuisine and breathtaking views in a casually elegant atmosphere. They serve lunch, prix fixe, happy hour, dinner and Sunday Brunch and they host special events. Located 100 Ocean Avenue, Long Branch, NJ 07740, you can call them at (732) 870-1200 or visit their web site at http://www.rooneysocean.com/.