Sometimes, just one phone call can change the direction of your life. That certainly was the case for Justin Robinson, who was recently named one of Auburn University’s “20 Under 40” alumni. Graduating in 2016 with a degree in Biomedical Engineering, he certainly never saw himself as “The Rockstar Chef” that he is now. Listening to his heart and pursuing his passion, Justin has gone from cooking out of his dorm room to now appearing on Food Network’s Iron Chef Showdown and producing culinary events in Birmingham and across the Southeast.
Tell us a little bit about what you do.
I do weddings and private dining experiences. I roll out three-, four-, five-course curated events, baby showers, and bridal parties. I am also a member of the Traeger Grills Pro Team.
What were you doing before this?
I was studying to be a physician’s assistant. It was my parents’ dream to see me go into the medical field. In fact, I have my master’s degree in public health.
What was your “aha” moment?
I will never forget it. I was still in school and working as a travel phlebotomist while cooking for clients on the side. I had asked some of my (social media) followers to tag me in posts, promoting me as a personal chef in order to get on more people’s radars. Well, I was in class one evening when I got a call from a celebrity’s assistant in Atlanta who wanted me to do a dinner the following night. I apologized to the professor, but I left class to go prep for that event. It was a huge turning point for me.
Advice to share?
Just know that no one will love your business and work your business the way that you do. I try to tell others to take action, lean on God, and have faith that He is going to lead you in the right direction.
I was Steve Harvey’s personal chef for a while—he is a man of many words. One afternoon, he said to me, “Justin, you know what got you here—right here right now, in this exact moment? It wasn’t those degrees, which are just paper on the wall. You are here because of your purpose in life. And when you marry your purpose in life with your passion, you will forever be rich in happiness and money.” I have never forgotten that conversation.