Rouxbarb is a place many in Knoxville go for a delicious meal with a southern twist. And if you do go chances are you know exactly who's manning the kitchen.
Searing seafood, serving his specials with a smile, Chef Bruce Bogartz is a character to say the least.
"I did grow up kind of thinking I'd be a professional of some sort cause my dad was a doctor, my mom was a psychologist, my stepmother was a nurse vice president of St. Marys. So I was on that track, but I didn't realize that meant you had to go to class and do realitively well in school to make that happen," says Bogartz.
He's modest. Bruce actually has an economics degree from Emory University.
"I'm a little educated, but I ain't that smart," says Bogartz.
But forget finances, cooking was always his passion.
"My parents joke that if you go under most teenager's, young men's beds, there's occasional pornographic material and under my bed there was always a food and wine or gourmet magazine. My centerfold was what's cooking this month," says Bogartz.
Bruce knew it's what he had to pursue. He actually started out washing dishes at Copper Cellar.
"It was the worst job I ever had in my life. I worked 15 hours a day and it was just horrible," says Bogartz.
Soon after he went to cooking school in Philadelphia. "By the time it was half over, I was already running a restaurant in Philly," says Bogartz.
But he always wanted to live in a ski town so he was off to Aspen.
"I was a chef for Warner Brothers Record Company for six and a half years," says Bogartz. "There was one little break in there. I actually became a chef for Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith."
He says that so casually. "Ranch hands, trainers, personal assistants, they had a nanny for every kid. So I cooked for all those people as well as cooking for Don and Melanie," says Bogartz.
It wasn't long before he was packing up and moving home to Tennessee. He then opened his own restaurant in the L&N building. He worked for Regas at a restaurant called Harry's. He opened Bogartz, a successful restaurant for five years. He left, came back, and eventually opened Rouxbarb.
"Knoxville has been really good to us the last three years and I'm very grateful for the customers we have. People love it. They come back. They celebrate here. They commisserate here. They come here when they are in a bad mood and want to be comforted. They want to be spoiled. There's a thousand reasons people want to come here," says Bogartz.
Now he's comfortable cooking up barbeque for lunch, southern fixins' for dinner. And his daughter helps in a big way, taking reservations and helping her dad cook.
"She's really the boss," says Bogartz.
Rouxbarb is a place for people to come together and it attracts Knoxville's elite.
"We get Greg Dunn from Regal Cinemas, and we get Sandy Beall from Blackberry Farm and Ruby Tuesday, and we get Jeff Goodson who owns Goodson Bros. Coffee, and we get Tom Harper who owns all the Harper Car Dealerships. I mean we have just incredible customers," says Bogartz.
Bruce Bogartz a BBQ boss, a master chef, a good dad.
One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.