Whether it’s a true crime series or a food-focused travelogue, the shows I spearhead attract viewers and rack up accolades — all while demonstrating a soul and sensitivity in storytelling that’s often missing in our clickbait-dominated world of content.
As supervising producer of the Hearst Television-produced Hometown Tragedy, I’ve helped the show rack up tens of millions of views while winning multiple Telly Awards with a victim-focused format. I also successfully pitched, developed and led production of the comedic game show, Wait, What Happened?, where people on the street answer questions about the wildest, wackiest news stories for a chance at a cash prize.
Prior to joining Hearst, I executive produced 585 episodes of Restaurant Hunter for Verizon FiOS, winning five New York Emmy Awards, including for best host. In that role, I visited iconic neighborhoods and even left the country to learn about communities and cultures; interviewed some of the world’s most acclaimed chefs, such as Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Tom Colicchio and Bobby Flay; brought celebrities to mom-and-pop restaurants and ventured outside the walls of these establishments to see how we cultivate what we eat; and even appeared as a guest judge on the hit Food Network show, Beat Bobby Flay.
I didn’t start my career in the food world, but I did start it in TV storytelling. For eight years, I was a sports reporter, anchor, videographer, producer and editor. When I moved back to New York in 2009, I reported news and feature stories for Verizon’s fledgling FiOS1 News Long Island channel. I was also food blogging for fun and had an idea: Why not do a dining segment during the news? The bosses signed off and “Reservations with Rob” was born. Over time, Verizon executives liked what they saw and “Reservations with Rob” became a weekly, primetime food TV show: Restaurant Hunter.
Restaurant Hunter launched in 2011 on Long Island, expanding to FiOS1 News Lower Hudson Valley in 2015 and FiOS1 News New Jersey in 2017, with each channel getting its own original content. It quickly became the most popular original program on all three channels, with restaurants featured on the show reporting sales increases of up to 60% after their segment aired. Between the three versions of the show, I executive produced 100 new episodes a year (hosting 70 of them). While FiOS1 News shuttered in November of 2019, Restaurant Hunter still lives on, as Verizon chose to add the fan-favorite programming to its video-on-demand library.
In January of 2020, I added podcaster to my resume, launching Hot Takes on a Plate on the Bleav Podcast Network. In addition, I produced and directed an award-winning independent documentary about how COVID-19 has impacted New York’s restaurants, 86’d: How A Global Pandemic Rocked The World’s Culinary Capital, and have written articles and essays for outlets such as The Washington Post and Esquire.
I live in Brooklyn with my wife, two daughters and our Boston Terrier. We also run a Poconos Airbnb, House in the Woods.