May/Jun
2015

HOT CHEF: OF THE NEW GRAND ROUNDS BREW PUB

Written by By Dawn Sanborn, Photography by Dawn Sanborn Photography
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Alex Sjoberg knows how to braise beef (I’ve tasted it). “I like it slow and low and cooking with very lean cuts,” he says. Alex was born and raised in Rochester. At age 15, he started working at a pizza place, making dough and cleaning dishes. Shortly after that, he moved to a country club kitchen, where he learned even more by helping prep food and cooking on the line. So let’s just say, he grew into being a chef.

 

Growing up in the Midwest, it’s no surprise that Alex considers his cooking style to very much be comfort food. “I throw in a lot of different techniques—French influence, Spanish influence, Asian influence—things that just make you feel good when you are done eating it. Midwestern-raised, of course, makes me a tater tot hot dish expert,” says Alex.

Alex has worked with chefs who helped him become the chef he is today. He credits local chef Justin Schoville with molding him into a more professional style. “Boston Chef Eric Scott,” Alex adds, “he taught me how to get ahead of the rush and get food to people in a timely manner. It was a 350-seat restaurant, and I had only five burners to work with.”  

CAH AND COU

His favorite food to cook at home (CAH) after a long day’s work is a sandwich. Alex also reveals, “I like to cook a lot with pastas, chicken and trying to make my own sauces, more experimental. I do get creative when cooking at home.” Now ladies, isn’t that what we all want? A little creativity in the kitchen is a big sell.

Alex believes that you become a family when you work closely together in a restaurant kitchen. He enjoys the banter and the inside jokes, like COU: Coversation of Understanding. If you are having a conversation with someone and another person comes along and asks what it’s about, it’s a COU—in other words, none of your business.

Eat FISH ON DEATH ROW

One of the challenges Alex faces as a chef is an allergy to fish, which forces him to rely on what others tell him about the taste. “Since I am allergic, I can never taste it. I can cook with it, touch it but can’t taste it,” Alex laments. “I mean, I have an understanding of the flavor and idiosyncrasies of fish. I mean, scallops are sweet and lightly buttery, but there’s a lot of trial and error cooking stuff you can’t eat.”

When asked what his last supper would be, Alex exclaims, “FISH! I would eat as much fish as possible. It’s not going to kill me. I just get real sick, so if I’m on death row, you know, I’m going to eat the things I could never experience before. I want some very, very good fish—sushi!”  

IN THE FUTURE

In five years, Alex hopes to still be running a kitchen. “I’d like to say I would be out of Rochester, but with the [restaurant] expansion, it’s a good place to stay and develop myself,” Alex says. “I’m 28, and I’m very quiet when it comes to the public eye. I just don’t need a lot of attention. But I’d like to be known as someone who is known for consistently making good food. Wherever my life leads me, I want to be making good food.” 

It’s the appreciation from people that he loves most about his job. “It’s those little everyday things, the small victories that you have on a day-to-day basis,” Alex shares. “Creating something with your hands that someone is going to enjoy gives you that nice, warm feeling inside.”

Dawn Sanborn, professional photographer and food lover, is afraid of fish, physically and mentally, but does love a good hunk of meat.