Hour Detroit: How did you get your start as a chef?
Bobby Nahra: Well, my mother was a chef, and I really didn’t care for the business much because it wasn’t cool to be a chef. We ended up running into some financial trouble, and I couldn’t finish college. [My parents] pulled me out and had me help out with our restaurant. I hated it at first, but at some point, I fell in love with it overnight. It was in my DNA to do this. I fought it first, but I really believe it was God’s plan. I wanted to go to college to be an investment banker — wear three-piece suits and play golf on the weekends. But my mother would tell me that your strength is always for service, never for status. Now, I get to make a cake for someone’s big day — be in charge of their happily-ever-after moment — and there’s a lot to be said about that.
Can you talk about your philanthropy work?
After losing my mother, who died five years ago on Dec. 2, I had a priest tell me, “You’re not going to feel better about yourself until you start helping those with less than you.” I was like, “OK, that’s a typical priest thing to say.” But I came home from work one day and my daughter said, “Hey, Dad we need to help out with this homeless shelter. They need 1,000 bag lunches.” I walked into this homeless shelter and I was really moved and that’s how it all began. I’m also doing work with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Feeding the Need in Macomb County is the name of my personal organization that I sit on the board of.
What is it like working with Detroiters?
It’s great, I love to make people smile. I was pulling out of Fox 2 last week and this happened. [Showing a video of two men who stopped by the Fox 2 studios just to say hello to him]. It tears me up really. I’m blessed with an amazing team. It’s not just me. It’s my wife, my kids, my executive chef, my team at Fox. It’s a huge team effort to make this all happen.
What are some of the most popular dishes on the Encore Catering & Banquet Center menu right now?
We do a beautiful Borghese Garden Salad, which is really popular and unique looking. Our black rice with Asian sea bass is also really popular, as is our Wagyu Shortrib.