Stone Balloon Chef ‘Rides the Bus to Flavortown’

Robbie Jester can only reveal that he did really well on Guy’s Grocery Games, which airs on Food Network Nov. 15

Robbie Jester has been steadfastly keeping a secret since last February. To find out what it is, tune in to the Food Network show Guy’s Grocery Games at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 15.

Jester, executive chef at Stone Balloon Ale House, was one of four contestants on the show that was filmed nine months ago in Santa Rosa, Calif., in a 24,000-square-foot warehouse that serves as the show’s “supermarket.”

On each episode, host chef/restaurateur Guy Fieri—who calls the show Triple G—sends the four contestants running through the aisles of the market to find items to cook dishes. Known for such catch phrases as “I’m driving the bus to Flavortown,” Fieri challenges them with such tasks as finding substitutions for “out-of-stock” ingredients, cooking with five items or fewer, or making a dish on a $10 budget. A panel of three judges evaluates the competitors’ dishes.

Chef Robbie Jester, as seen on Food Network's Guy's Grocery Games, Season 6.
Chef Robbie Jester, as seen on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, Season 6.

Jester, 30, can only say that he “did really well” on the show and he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. He adds that filming the episode was emotional because he spoke about his dad, Bob, who has stage four lung cancer and is in hospice care.
Jester grew up in a restaurant family, and his personal history as much as his cooking ability helped land him on the show. His father was in the first graduating class of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. Robbie began working with his father at age 12 and graduated from the CIA in 2006.

Bob Jester once owned the Kitty Knight House in Georgetown, Md., a sports bar in Newark and the Harbor House Restaurant in Chestertown, Md.

Robbie left Piccolina Toscana in 2013 to become general manager of the former 16 Mile Taphouse on Main Street, which became the Stone Balloon Ale House last year. Jester says it’s been a great experience working with new owners and general manager Philip DiFebo.

The Stone Balloon will host a dinner on the Thursday after the Guy’s Grocery Games episode airs—Nov. 19, at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $55 per person (gratuity not included) and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at 266-8111. Beers from Oskar Blues Brewery will be paired with each course.

Jester says the theme of the dinner will be “things to be thankful for” and will include some dishes from the show plus several of his family’s dishes, including his grandmother’s German chocolate cake, his father’s crab imperial, and the sweet and sour meatballs he and his aunt made when he was a youngster. “It’s a fun menu that’s dear to my heart,” he says.

In the meantime, Jester says, two more TV projects have been offered to him. Again, he must remain tight-lipped, but he can reveal that they are “food-related.”

O&A has a pair of tickets to give to a reader for that Nov. 19 dinner. Feeling lucky? Go to to put your name in for the random drawing.