Food & Drink

Rod's Chef Adds Global Flair to Taste of Madison 2014

March 8, 2014 at 3:58 PM

MADISON, NJ—Step into the kitchen of Executive Chef Bobby Varua and find the confluence of traditional culinary techniques and playful experimentation. At Rod’s Steak & Seafood Grille and GK’s Red Dog Tavern, Varua blends his classical French training with an affinity for Asian, Italian and Brazilian dishes to create a dynamic dining experience.

On Monday, April 7, Varua will join the best of Madison’s dining scene at the annual Taste of Madison, held at the Park Avenue Club in Florham Park. Alongside the Napa Valley Vitners, local chefs will provide small plates of their signature dishes.

“There’s a great synergy with the other chefs and restaurant owners,” Varua said of the Taste. “It’s an important opportunity to sample different foods and styles from small restaurants to big hotels.”

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Rod’s, an historical family-owned establishment in the Madison Hotel, is renowned for its steak. “By far the most popular item on the menu is the Delmonico bone-in ribeye,” Varua says. But at special events like the Taste of Madison, Varua is able to tease to his varied knowledge of international cuisine.

Before joining Rod’s and GK’s Red Dog Tavern in 2012, Varua served as Sous-Chef at the Windows of the World and worked alongside some of New York and Washington D.C.’s most successful restaurateurs: Daniel Boulud, Claude Troisgros, and Ashok Bajaj, to name a few.

To say he acquired an appreciation for global flavors would be an understatement. The native Long Islander not only pulls from his Filipino background for inspiration, but looks to his kitchen-mates for the same. “A lot of our staff is of Latin descent. It’s fun to play around with what they know,” Varua said. “We can be adventurous while still sticking to our roots and not being too contemporary.”

Often, that collaboration results in unique specials, like this weekend’s treat in Red Dog Tavern: veal cheek taquitos with pico de gallo. “Rod’s is a beautiful experience. You can come enjoy a bottle of Silver Oak and some oysters, or go to GK’s and have a good burger. Red Dog is more laid back and casual. It’s nice to have both options here,” Varua said.


At last year’s Taste, Varua prepared braised oxtail over gorgonzola polenta. This year, he plans a seafood ceviche. But it’s all in the presentation, he says. No sneak peaks here. You’ll just have to come see, and taste, for yourself.


Tickets to the Taste are available at at Gary’s Wine & Marketplace at 121 Main Street and at locations in Wayne and Bernardsville.  D torr boutique at 36 Main Street, Sprouts Consignment at 250 Main Street, and The Madison Pharmacy at 66 Main Street are also selling tickets. Tickets will not be sold at the door.

VIP Admission at $100.00 permits entry an hour early at 6:00 p.m. General Admission at $65.00 permits entry at 7:00 p.m. The event ends at 9:30 p.m. All guests must be 21 years of age or older. Valet parking will be available.

The following items will be available for bid at the Taste's silent auction: A private box of thirty baseball game seats courtesy of the Somerset Patriots; New York Giants boxes tickets to a 2014 game courtesy of Quest Diagnostics; A Sonos surround system courtesy of PC Problems. More fabulous items are being donated to the silent auction every day.

For more information about the Taste of Madison, please visit or contact the Madison Chamber of Commerce at or 973-377-7830

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