On Food and Education

An Interview with Culinary Director, Robyn Morin

Robyn Morin started as our new Culinary Director here at Camp Glen Brook in January 2019. I sat down with him for a chat about food, education and life choices on a quiet morning while our visiting students were out in the forest.

He tells me he loves tacos more than anything for the endless possibilities they can hold.

One of robyn’s culinary creations—pulling out all the stops for a family weekend!

One of robyn’s culinary creations—pulling out all the stops for a family weekend!

“In Texas it’s always the 6 inch, either flour or corn taco, there is no burrito.” He has seen our tortilla press and is planning on using it to make tacos for our campers. During the weeks without camper groups he’s found himself pitching in to other community projects. “I want to make sure that the encouragement to help each other stays alive. Thinking of how many people here cleaned White Meadows [his family’s home on campus], painted the ceilings, got everything ready for my family to move in—it makes you want to give back to the community.”

Robyn has loved cooking since his childhood purple-and-pink Easy Bake Oven. He always knew he wanted to cook, but first followed his family’s expectations to the University of Texas to study aerospace engineering. “I hated it. I lived in a dormitory and for free room and board I worked in the kitchen. On my 3rd year I was cooking breakfast omelets to order one morning and realized that I liked this so much better then calculus. So I dropped out of UT and enrolled in culinary school.”

Robyn (second from left) and the Family receiving the 2014 Best Food Truck award.

Robyn (second from left) and the Family receiving the 2014 Best Food Truck award.

From there Robyn became a corporate chef, traveling a lot and doing bigger picture development and problem solving for restaurants. ”What brought me back into the kitchen and pulled me out of management was my wife and I opening our own food truck in 2014. Hand Helds Quality Sliders won tons of awards and got fast recognition like Truck by Truckwest’s Best Food Truck in Austin.”

The restaurant closed after a falling out with business partners and it wasn’t easy for Robyn. It’s one of the reasons they left Austin, but mainly it was getting a bit too metropolitan for the family. Robyn has five kids and they moved to New Hampshire so his wife could pursue a degree in Waldorf Education. Here he became the head chef at Audrey’s, only a few miles from Camp Glen Brook, until he heard about the Culinary Director position at Camp. “For me, coming to Glen Brook is about moving towards the educational realm of cooking. When you have so many kids it becomes ingrained in you that you are teaching kids all the time. I’ve helped cooking with so many of my kids’ classes and camping trips and it just becomes a part of you. It feels good to pass on basic knowledge, like teaching a student how to scramble eggs for the first time, it’s neat.”

One of robyn’s fabled sliders from Hand Helds

One of robyn’s fabled sliders from Hand Helds

“What I love about cooking, and it is slightly egotistical, is people wowing and awing over food, it’s gratifying to make people smile. Going the educational path is saying OK, I’ve gotten a lot out of this, I don’t need any more, but I can help spread that knowledge. When it comes to my food, simplicity is best, I try not to take away for the flavors of the products by over spicing or overcomplicating. For a perfect meal you want a balance of sweet, savory, salty and texture. If you can have those 4 things in a meal everyone will be happy.”

Robyn is passionate about sourcing food from our own farm and other local growers whenever we can. It’s an important message for him to pass on to all of our program participants. “Trying to figure out the definition of what farm-to-table means to me and to Glen Brook is important. Having folks know that food doesn’t come out of a box, or that it magically appears, but that it takes energy to grow, energy to pick and energy to cook it. I want everyone to make a connection between the work and the earth and their nutrition.”

I want them to go home and say: ‘This is the best food I’ve had ever.’ I love that multiple families have asked me for recipes and I’m glad to share them. Except pancakes. If you want Glen Brook pancakes you have to come to Glen Brook.”