Executive Chef Rob Davis preparing a meal in Irises Cafe and Wine Bar’s kitchen in downtown Plattsburgh.

Executive Chef Rob Davis preparing a meal in Irises Cafe and Wine Bar’s kitchen in downtown Plattsburgh. Photo by Shawn Ryan.

— Whether it’s brewing a craft IPA in Lake Placid, or scratch-making a French Bechamel sauce at one of the many Northern Tier restaurants he’s worked at over the years, Rob Davis is a self-described foodie, who taught himself to be a chef.

Davis started his working life in restaurants, usually working in the “front of the house.” But all the while he was picking up techniques, and honing them at home, where he still loves to cook and experiment.

“If an individual wants to get educated, with the technology that is available, it’s literally there at your fingertips,” says Davis.

Davis has a love for reading, and added cook books from the Culinary Institute of America and other culinary juggernauts to the Faukners and Dostoevkies in his reading rotation. Coupled with the lessens he had picked up over the years, and the experimenting he was doing at home, over time Davis became locally respected for his culinary talents.

In a field where many have culinary school educations, cooking is one place where a self-taught person can still compete. Davis sees value to both types of backgrounds. He’s seen people coming out of culinary schools who didn’t have the still-set to run a restaurant, and vice-versa, has seen self-taught chefs who lacked some of the finer points to the culinary arts.

“You have to be creative, but do it day after day, week after week. You should enjoy food for what it is.”

He became Brew Master at the Great Adirondack Steak & Seafood in Lake Placid, which he left in 2004 when he bought the Tamarac Inn, just outside Malone. It was at the Tamarac that his growing experience in both the culinary and business end of running a restaurant finally came together.

A massive fire brought an end to the Tamarac, and the Massena native moved back to Lake Placid to cook in or run some of the finer named restaurants in that foodie mecca. Just this past summer, he decided to move to Plattsburgh, and in July he brought his resume around, just to see what was available. What he found was an Executive Chef position at Downtown Plattsburgh’s Irises Café and Wine Bar, where he has seamlessly transitioned to their menu, which he calls “An American spin on classic cuisine.”

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