First-year Robert Lipman, founder and chef of the underground restaurant The Hearth, was the featured student speaker at TEDxUChicago on Saturday. In his speech, Lipman discussed the role of food in relationships and shared some culinary memories from his year at UChicago.
Lipman began with an anecdote about almost getting banned from the Regenstein Library. In order to serve a Hearth dinner in a Reg study room, Lipman snuck food, utensils, and even a refrigerator in to pull off the clandestine dinner.
“I impersonated a delivery man and walked through the front door with a refrigerator, and they didn’t question it,” Lipman recounted.
However, when a librarian saw pictures of the event on Facebook later, she called Lipman in for a trial of sorts and punished him by requiring him to inform students of the importance of not eating in the library.
Lipman attested that he was willing to risk upsetting the Reg librarians and spend 17 hours preparing food because he wants to fill the void of family dinners, which he feels are missing from the college experience of microwave popcorn and ramen. He said he created The Hearth because he considers eating to be not just a culinary experience, but also a social one.
“The goal, as far-fetched as it sounds, is to recreate a family at the table,” he said.