One Bite at a Time
February 2021 Issue
by Jacie Elizabeth Millen
Photography (top) by Cassidy Dunn Photography
With the yearning to have unlimited reasons to be constantly doing something and creating the inconceivable, Robert Colson found the greatest love of his life—cooking. Cooking has been on the front burner of Robby’s mind since he was 4 years old. Propped up on a stool, eager to lick the spoon, Robby nestled next to his grandmother as she baked the simple joys in life. With the first bite of her famous chocolate cream pie, he was hooked.
Robby spent from age 4 to 14 on a lobster boat in Bar Harbor, Maine. His stepfather instilled the importance of a hard work ethic, respect, and skills he uses still today. Fast forward to age19 when Robby journeyed to Hilton Head with barely two pennies to rub together. Though he had a backpack filled with clothes, he had no idea if those clothes would fit his future. Starting out at The Beach House on the south end of the island, Robby began compiling his dreams and focusing on what was to come. Landing a job assisting in the opening of The Porch Southern Kitchen and Bar at The Beach House, he discovered a new love—getting his hands dirty and opening restaurants.
Expanding his career to that as a chef, his next adventure led him to Red Fish, where he met Executive Chef Chaun Bescos, who became his mentor and changed Robby’s trajectory forever. “Chaun is the master of flavors,” Robby said, explaining how Chaun taught him skills and techniques that he uses daily. Robby’s love for mashing up flavors, fermentation and use of Koji in cooking can be traced back to the nurturing and molding he received from his time at Red Fish.
From there, he took his newfound knowledge to Micheal Anthony’s Cucina Italiana in Orleans Plaza. Blessed with the opportunity to be creative, Robby became a gourmet guru. “I got to make crazy good food, and I had the freedom to express myself in a form that I love,” Robby said.
Robby currently has his newest venture in the woks...I mean works. He is in the process of opening the newest noodle bar and late night spot, Noods. With his natural affinity for the kitchen and ingrained work ethic, opening this restaurant is a dream come true. “The ultimate goal is to continue to open restaurants and have good people, eat good food,” Robby said.
He does not simply cook; he makes art out of food. With cultivation of food constantly in mind, he makes sure everything he is cooking or experimenting with will make tastebuds tingle. One fascination includes picking wild mushrooms. “The world provides us with so much,” Robby said. With so many wild mushrooms growing abundantly around the island, he is a happy camper. Each year he goes back to the same spots to pick mushrooms. “I enjoy picking them. It’s a time when I get my space, my freedom to just be one with nature and take what it has to offer.”
Alongside opening restaurants, Robby’s dreams include traveling the world, learning new cooking techniques and simply watching others cook. “Chefs are a dying breed. Cooking brings creativity and ingenuity, both qualities you need to be a successful chef,” Robby said.
Robby has come a long way on many paths to get to where he is today, but with his childhood lessons intact, he lives by these words: Never forget your roots. Accept what you are given. Be respectful. Never give up on yourself. “I am so lucky. I got to know what I was doing at a young age. Not everyone gets to live out their dreams, but I sure am—one bite at a time.”
Think Ink: Robby got his first tattoo at age 13, of course with a cooking theme. His only other tattoo is a masterpiece on his left forearm of a knife with multiple herbs and veggies surrounding it.
He is huge on connecting with others. “I think I’m friends with half this island,” he laughed. Being in restaurants all over Hilton Head and meeting people through his job has created a spotlight for him.