LN2 Restaurant

Tom Keller Photography

L.A. Chef Chris Robbins Pays it Forward

Chris Robbins found refuge in restaurants as a teen, and how the chef and owner of LN2 in L.A. is paying it forward to the next generation.

Tom Keller Photography

During a difficult childhood, Chris Robbins found refuge in restaurants. Now the chef is paying it forward by establishing a supportive—and fun—environment at newly opened LN2 in L.A.

My mother had bulimia even before I was born. She was still very loving and did her best to raise me. With that disease, it’s kind of like drug addiction; people get stuck in it and can’t get out. I guess because of that, I fell in with the wrong crowd and lost my way growing up. What really helped me was working in a kitchen, which I started doing at 17. I found a place there and later went to higher-end kitchens. I just felt welcomed as family.

I enjoy feeding people and making them happy and nourishing them in a different way as a result. My mother had a very strange relationship with food, but I never had that. I always loved food. It was amazing and fun to eat. I wouldn’t say I spent a lot of time in the kitchen growing up; it was more spending a lot of time eating. My family was one where everybody cooked all the time. Everyone came together and made their own things.

At LN2, we like to make things different and make things new. For me, it’s not just about eating for nourishment, it’s also about having fun with food, making it beautiful and playful at the same time. We’ve only been open nine months, but we’re already studying for the next menu, which we’ll probably roll out in January. We constantly want to come up with new things and not become complacent.

A lot of the people have been with us since day one. We try to provide a fair environment where as long as you work hard and work as a team, it’ll be fun. Then we can get the job done together in a way that is very positive and rewarding. I think that directly stems from my experience working in the kitchen those early years. I enjoyed it so much, and I definitely want to share that. You have to take care of the good people, and I think that pays off in the long run, hands down, more than anything.

Lessons Learned

  • Let the difficult lessons of your past guide your future, especially as a leader.
  • Cultivate a positive, team-oriented restaurant environment.
  • Remember that food is about fun, not just function.

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