Restaurant Impossible – De Rican Chef restaurant ambushed

Robert Irvine ambushes the De Rican Chef restaurant in Virginia Beach
Robert Irvine ambushes the De Rican Chef restaurant in Virginia Beach (Facebook/Twitter)

Robert Irvine and the Restaurant Impossible crew head to Virginia Beach, Virgina this week to ambush the owner of the De Rican Chef restaurant.


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Restaurant owner Raquel Rothenberter has been serving authentic Puerto Rican cuisine in the Hampton Roads area for over a decade – but the business needs help.

Irvine finds himself in Virginia Beach after receiving a call for help from the owner’s daughter, Tamara. With the eatery barely making a profit and the owner unexpectedly dropping a bombshell into Irvine’s lap, Robert finds himself in the position of having to heal a family and restoring Raquel’s passion for the business. Just another day on the job for Robert.

The episode, titled “Beneath the Surface” was filmed early in 2016, on January 14 – 15. You can catch the episode on Food Network on March 16.

A call for volunteers saw 1,200 people offering their time and services, according to an article published during the makeover by In most cases, anywhere from 10 to 500 people usually respond. It’s a call that’s made by Robert Irvine and the production team on social media platforms in the days leading up to the planned ambush.

On January 17, the following message appeared on the De Rican Chef restaurant’s Facebook page:

Today was an incredible reopening day ! All we can say is WOW, we are so excited for the future of De Rican Chef and want to thank every single one of you for being a part of it,
See you tomorrow!

During our research for this episode primer, we found a lot of evidence online to support the fact that the food quality at the De Rican Chef was very good before Robert Irvine’s intervention. For that reason, we fully expect Irvine’s challenge in this mission will not involve elevating the cuisine as much it will be focused as fixing other issues related to making the business profitable.

The Reviews are In:

The crew here at Chew Boom took a look at some of the action on the restaurant review websites and we were pleasantly surprised to see the large number of reviews available since the makeover. The De Rican Chef restaurant appears to be a popular place to eat. Reviews are mixed but definitely lean to the positive side on both Yelp and Trip advisor. Here’s a sample:

TripAdvisor on March 7 by MandM B: 3 of us had tried the food here and loved it. The Food Network came in and helped with a little redecorating. But they did not have to change food or owner’s warmth. So we decided to have a party there. Mofongo to die for, fried chicken pieces, roasted pork, plantains any way you want them.

TripAdvisor on March 4 by mommascouter: Looking for authentic cuisine with good prices? This is the place for you. They have an extensive bar menu and food choices reflecting the culinary heritage of Puerto Rico.

Yelp om March 11 by Maria G: I really enjoyed my To-Go order today! The restaurant has recently undergone a total makeover thanks to the TV show Restaurant Impossible! As soon as you walk in, you are greeted by a hostess where she was posted at her new host stand, but since I was doing take out she handed me a menu and told me my order was going to be taken at the bar.

Yelp on Feb. 25 by Susan T: First off let me start by saying that the food is AMAZING! It is truly exceptional. The bartender made caipirinhas that were truly the best I’ve had in my life. My only problem with this place is our waiter. He was nice and courteous but unattentive and there were long periods of wait where he’d forget about us.

Here’s a look at Restaurant Impossible designer Taniya Nayak posing for a photo at the De Rican Chef with Gail Kim – who just happens to be Robert Irvine’s wife.

Here’s a social media post from the show’s general contractor Tom Bury where he praises designer Taniya Nayak for knocking it “out of the park!” for this episode – which he also believes is his “favorite design yet!”

Another successful Restaurant Impossible mission completed.

That’s a wrap! #lovemyteam #rockstars #restaurantimpossible

A photo posted by taniyanayak (@taniyanayak) on

Here’s a look at some of the menu items since the makeover:

Cubano y tostones ????????????

A photo posted by curlycubaminican (@curlycubaminican) on