While in this past year Rochester has seen many new restaurants open, along with rebranding of others, the local scene is not without some well-seasoned, established venues. Chef Christopher Rohe is owner and operator of one such venue, Prescotts.
Rohe has lived in Rochester since he was 6 years old. As a teenager, he worked in a Burger King. He went on to work at the Hoffman House, which at one time was part of the Best Western Apache, now a Kahler property off 16th Street Southwest. There, he continued his studies at Rochester Community and Technical College, where he was enrolled in the culinary program offered at that time.
Following graduation, Rohe spent seven years in the kitchen at the Broadstreet Cafe (precursor to today’s 300 First), followed by a brief time at the Radisson Hotel downtown. He opened Prescotts on Jan. 5, 2005.
“Each previous position helped shape who I am today. It’s all working now,” Rohe said.
He adheres to the belief that one can learn from one’s failures, admitting to having some of those experiences himself.
Rohe credits much of his success as a chef these days to keeping things simple. He doesn’t use heavy marinades. Whether it is lamb, beef or pork he is featuring, with the first bite, one will notice that they can truly taste the meat for what it is, with its inherent flavors coming through interlaced with the flavor contributed by the natural animal fat.
Speaking of fat, Rohe has never had a deep fryer. He uses oils in limited amounts, always selecting healthier ones. And yet, reality is that certain food prep requires some amount of oil, thus it is one of a handful of ingredients Rohe can’t live without in the kitchen. Others include garlic, hot pepper, “something sweet” and “something sour.”
Besides his focus on healthy preparation, and sourcing high-quality raw ingredients, he is adamant that food should not be overcooked.
In the kitchen, Rohe admits to being a bit of a traditionalist. His needs: an oven, a burner and a knife. Nothing fancy! But the results can simply be amazing. Again, he notes, “When you are using quality products, you don’t have to hide things under sauces and marinades.”
At the same time, Rohe loves to be creative in the dishes he comes up with, and once an item goes on the menu, he strives for consistency each time it is prepared. He notes that cooking at home is much different than doing so in a restaurant. Indeed, if nothing else, there are added pressures and demands when cooking in a commercial kitchen. Timing issues are an ongoing, everyday thing as various orders are placed.
Overall, Rohe views his culinary craft as an art. He takes great pleasure in building a meal around an entree when the opportunity arises. But when it comes to offering catering, he is limited simply due to not having the staff to support it.
Rohe finds himself more than just a line chef. As both owner and operator of Prescotts, he becomes the “conductor” of all that transpires in the kitchen, as well as being the general manager of all operations.
Rohe believes that in too many areas customer service is becoming a lost skill, thus he does all he personally can to foster and deliver good service.
Entrees at Prescotts change seasonally. As we are now in the winter months, you can expect to find heavier dishes on the menu — braised pork shanks, lamb shanks and roasted duck legs will likely be on the winter menu daily. Pasta lovers will delight to discover his vodka chicken dish presented with pasta in a rich sauce. You’ll find Rohe’s flavorful winter dishes to be heavier and boast richer flavors than his spring and summer menus.
Save room for dessert. The eye-catching showcase of items, prepared by an in-house pastry chef, offers of delectable array of decadent cakes, pies and pastries.