A Kitchen Conversation with Chef Ted Robinson

After spending the last 30 years as a professional cook, bouncing from one high pressure, intense restaurant to the next — the time has come for me to slow down and enjoy the place I have come to call home.


In hopes of keeping in touch with the St. John community, I have recently accepted a new challenge of producing a bi-monthly food column.


My intention is to get the point across that food and cooking should not be about a technical list of ingredients or even an exact science. Rather, it should be about the act of doing it, adding your own personal touch and enjoying a simple meal at home with family and friends.


Looking back, it has occurred to me that I may have lost sight of how it all began for me in the kitchen. Some of my earliest memories are centered around family gatherings or parties and food — particularly in the summer.

Summer Relaxation

For so many, summer is a time to take a step back, relax a bit, and leave the busy season behind. 


For the first time in a long time, I too find myself in the unique position of enjoying summer on St. John. So much so that while at Gibney beach today I took the opportunity to leisurely admire Tarzan’s garden and all the thriving seasonal vegetation such as avocado, mango, papaya and star fruit to name a few. 


The simplicity of the summer day and the garden became the inspiration for my evening supper.


As Tage (my dog) and I made our way home for sunset, we were greeted by our neighbor who was in need of assistance filleting a rainbow runner which was a gift from Captain Grizz and Marcia of Gone Ketchin’. I was happy to oblige. 


At that point it occurred to me that although I no longer have a shingle hanging from my door…it is still open. That is why my menu tonight is: Dry Rub Grilled Mahi Mahi with Fresh Fruit Salsa, Arugala and Crispy Bread.


Approximate prep/cook time: 

30 minutes


Dry Rub

It is always best, when possible, to buy whole seeds and toast them and ground as needed. They will keep nicely for 12 to 14 days if tightly covered. Below is one of my favorite dry rubs. Have fun with it and feel free to come up with your own version.


Whole Seeds:

• Fennel Seed — 3 tablespoon

• Cardamom — 1 tablespoon

• All Spice — 1 teaspoon

• Cinnamon Stick — 2 each

• Clove — 1 teaspoon

• Nutmeg — 1/2 seed

• Cumin — 1 teaspoon

• Coriander — 1 tablespoon


Salt and pepper Mahi. Gene-rously season fresh fish with dry rub. Lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Squeeze three key limes and grill for two and a half to three minutes on each side.

Fresh Fruit and Arugala Salad with Crispy Bread

• Avocados — 2

• Mango — 4

• Papaya — 1

• Star Fruit — 2

• Key Limes — 8

• Arugala — 1 bag of Josephine’s Greens

• Crispy Bread—1 loaf from Baked in the Sun

• Kosher Salt to taste

• Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

• Extra Virgin Olive Oil–1/4 cup


The great thing about fresh ripe fruit and veggies is that you do not have to do much with them. Let them be! Lightly grilled fruit with a bit of olive oil, a splash of key lime and a sprinkle of salt and pepper is all you need.


The juices that come from our dry rubbed grilled Mahi along with the grilled fruit will naturally create a sauce for our arugala. Grill your bread and enjoy!


Lose the silverware, dig in and have fun.