Award-winning RouXbarb chef talks ‘farm-to-table’

RouXbarb uses local ingredients to create a variety of dishes.

Chef Bruce Bogartz prepares for dinner.
Chef Bruce Bogartz prepares for dinner.

Located on 130 South Northshore Drive is RouXbarb, a small restaurant owned by Chef Bruce Bogartz.

The restaurant has a handful of staff preparing for the dinner crowd in the small dining room that seats only 52 patrons. Bogartz is busy in the kitchen prepping the menu for the night that is comprised of many local ingredients from Knoxville and surrounding areas.

RouXbarb opened in February 2008 and has been serving Knoxville local dishes ever since. Bogartz, a graduate of the Philadelphia Culinary School and winner of six Metro Pulse “Best of Knoxville” awards, was inspired to start this restaurant out of mere practicality.

“It just makes sense, you cook from the area,” Bogartz says. “When I go to a place I look for a restaurant that is kind of representative of where it is. If you like to travel at all and like to eat when you travel then, you like to look for things that are representative of where you are.”

Bogartz’s philosophy on using fresh and local food in this “farm-to-table” cooking style is that it makes for a better product.

While local ingredients are important to him, Bogartz explains why it’s almost impossible to have a restaurant that is completely “farm-to-table.”

“It’s not always practical,” Bogartz explains. “Today, it’s really not affordable to buy a lot of local product.”

Bogartz used to place heavy value on the majority of his ingredients being local, but now he holds more value in the overall quality of the food he serves his customers.

“I won’t buy it just because it’s local,” Bogartz claims, “I like to tell the farmers, ‘bring me what you’re most proud of.’ You end up getting the best stuff. ”

Bogartz has been working in this industry long enough that he has built good relationships with local farmers that have become very beneficial to his business. Bogartz used to have a booth at the farmer’s market where he met the owners of other booths and got to know the vendors. Instead of frequenting the markets like he used to, farmers and locals now come to his back door with products they know he will love.

RouXbarb’s menu changes on a daily basis now, according to what fresh ingredients Bogartz has to work with that day. He calls this a “market menu,” which is a much more focused and smaller menu providing a more premium and fluid array of choices.

Bogartz plans on possibly expanding the small venue one day and is just a few weeks away from obtaining his liquor license. Although he won’t have a full bar, the staff will be able to make drinks to serve to the customers. As of now, RouXbarb does have a wine list they are able to serve, and allows customers to bring their own bottle of wine to enjoy with their food with an uncorking fee of $10.

RouXbarb’s Hours:

Monday through Friday: lunch 11 a.m.- 2 p.m., dinner starting at 5 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: brunch 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., dinner starting at 5 p.m.

 

Edited by: Jessica Carr