Tri-State chef gains national attention for her culinary skills

Tri-State chef gains national attention for her culinary skills

CINCINNATI (WXIX) – A Tri-State chef is quickly becoming a household name after grabbing two wins from cooking competitions on the Food Network.

Kayla Robison has been the executive chef at Arnold’s Bar and Grill for the past four years.

She says it has been a life-changing journey working there with a team that pushes her in her professional life but also supports a personal life balance, which has allowed her to do some amazing things.

Robinson has gained a reputation for putting a fun new twist on classic dishes.

“I love to cook burgers,” Robinson said. “My name is ‘Commander and Beef’ on Instagram, so burgers and beef. I even have a burger tattoo, so that’s my thing.”

Being a chef is not what Robinson originally planned for her life.

“I had my daughter really young, and I was trying to figure out what it is I wanted to do, and I always worked in restaurants at that time,” Robinson explained. “I started working in the industry when I was 14 years old and when I found out you can go to college for this; I knew college is something I personally wanted to do. So moved to Cincinnati when my daughter was 1 year old.”

Leaving North Dakota, she enrolled at Cincinnati State, joining their Midwest Culinary Institute.

Her journey to becoming a chef has come with some challenges.

”Starting off, not only just being a female in the industry, which has grown so much, but also being young,” Robinson said. “I had my first executive chef job at 24-year-old. That means 30 and 40-year-olds have to listen to me, you know. I had to grow as a leader, which in turn helped me grow as a mom.”

It did not take long for her knife skills and creative dishes to be appreciated in the national spotlight.

Robinson was a 2019 winner of “Guy’s Grocery Games.”

“That was definitely life-changing,” she says. “Struggling, being a single mom trying to make ends meet, that $20,000 just changed our lives. And after that, I was able to do a lot of other appearances. We’ve been on ‘Man vs Food,’ on the ‘Today Show.’”

She also recently won the food competition show “Chopped,” taking home another $10,000

Robinson says it was most satisfying to show her daughter and loved ones that you can do anything.

“The biggest thing for me was making my friends, family, and city proud,” Robinson explained. “That’s really incredible having my daughter see me doing something again that was so hard, and she knew how nervous I was, and I want to show her it’s okay to be nervous, and it works out sometimes and sometimes it doesn’t, and that’s okay too.”

She says all the people at Arnold’s have become family. While it’s a tough job, she says it has also been a lot of fun.

As far as what’s next, she says she’s enjoying the space she’s currently in.

Robinson did hint at another possible TV appearance, but she says we’ll have to wait to see.

This story is part of a weekly segment called Breaking Through.

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