As a sophomore living in the Kappa Delta sorority house, I have enjoyed my on-campus meals significantly more than the typical dining hall plan, courtesy of our in-house chef, Robert Vega. To give you a better picture, here are some of my favorite meals from the week:

Alexia Kadota-Browner

Meet Chef Rob!

Alexia Kadota-Browner

Chef Robert Vega currently works for Campus Cooks as a personal chef serving Northwestern’s Kappa Delta Sorority. He attended Northwestern University as an undergraduate student to study linguistics before dropping out to pursue his dream career, cooking! After earning an Associate in Applied Sciences and Chef Training from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Chicago, he has worked as a Kitchen Manager for The Dock At Montrose Beach from 2010-2011, Line Cook for Ralph Lauren Restaurant from 2011-2019, and Sous Chef for Lux Bar & Grill from 2019-2020. He returned to work at Northwestern in 2022.

As he approaches his one-year anniversary of working for Campus Cooks, Vega reflected on his career path. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

Q & A with Chef Rob

When did you develop your passion for food and cooking?

Robert Vega: Growing up, my mom had two jobs and my dad wasn't really around. I eventually got tired from peanut butter jelly sandwiches and cold cereal so I started cooking then I developed a knack for it.

How did you know you wanted to attend culinary school?

RV: Office jobs from nine to five it wasn't really my thing…so I decided to go to school because I love different cultures, different languages, and thought it would be cool to learn more than one language. After finishing school I did my (culinary) internship in Spain in Seville at the Noble Tower.

You have spent time working in restaurants across Chicago’s culinary scene- what about Campus Cooks intrigued you?

RV: The restaurant industry took a very big hit during the pandemic, so they were doing a bunch of cutbacks. They laid off a whole bunch of people but I still wanted to continue to cook and follow my passion…When I learned about campus cooks, I thought it was pretty cool that you get to make your own recipes and dinners, and the clientele's amazing. It’s nice to be back home in Evanston.

How do you like cooking at Northwestern? What has your experience been like?

RV: This is like the first time I've ever felt joy going to work. When I was working at a restaurant, I was always stressed out. The noise from those kitchens is like a battle zone. Here, it's just me and my system. It's not much pressure and I’m much happier than I was before.

Where do you get inspiration for meals?

RV: I love to travel. I’m always learning about new foods, new cultures and different techniques and listening to people's opinions.

What is your favorite meal to cook?

RV: I like Spanish paella. It's not that easy to make, but I developed a skill for it and like the challenge.

What is one big takeaway that you’ve learned from being a chef?

RV: I enjoy cooking and love that food makes people happy and brings people together...I just love what I do and not a lot of people can say that. So I'm very blessed and very thankful