Roy Handler is an American chef and television personality best known for appearing on his sister Chelsea Handler's [Wikipedia citation] mockumentary-style comedy series, After Lately and her talk show Chelsea Lately. He has also appeared on Chef’s Kitchen Takeover and Chopped.
Roy grew up in Livingston, NJ along with his five brothers and sisters. His mother, Rita, was a stay at home mom who was a Mormon while his father was Jewish and claimed to be a professional “used car dealer.”
After graduating from High School in 1980, Roy started working in restaurants. After seven years of odd jobs and low wages, on the advice of his father, Roy decided to attend the Culinary Institute of America in 1988, the most respected culinary school in America at the time.
Roy did his externship at the Four Seasons in Washington DC, a Five Diamond Property and graduated in 1990 from the Culinary Institute to be immediately hired as a production chef at another Five Diamond property, The Hilton in Short Hills in N.J. Structured and disciplined, the Hilton acted as a breeding ground to teach young hungry chefs valuable life and cooking lessons. Roy spent five years there and despite moving up through the ranks decided that hotels were not going be in his future due to the fact that he did not like taking orders from corporate hierarchy.
In 1995 Roy was hired as a sous chef at Morris County Golf Club, N.J. He received a large pay raise, but the Executive Chef was over 70 and cooked like it was still 1943 After proving himself, the Chef let Roy design his own daily specials, a talent he would later incorporate into his signature and bring to Elilai Restaurant. But, before Roy would traverse the globe, he sought what most Chef’s seek – the elusive Executive Chef Opportunity. Roy landed his 1st Executive Chef Position at Newton Country Club in Newton NJ. Again, the club was old and the menu was uninspiring, but it was his club. He immediately started to run hip specials and in three months the old menu was gone and the new menu was a daily special menu. This was a critical point in Roy's career as it helped to further define his unique culinary style.
Roy later trained under a classical Italian chef learn about the art of pasta and Italian cuisine at Valentinos . However, the Italian Chef who hired Roy had a mental breakdown two months into Roy’s hire and ultimately the owner handed Roy the keys to Valentinos and told him he was now the Executive Chef. Roy, with the help of owner Jerry Durso and his daughter Anna Maria, continued the tradition of authentic Northern Italian food with imagination. Roy spent nine years there learning all about the most respected food on this planet. Breads, pasta, fish, desserts, history and of course, meatballs.
Years later Roy got a call from his sister Chelsea to move to California to cook for her and her production crew. Roy packed up and headed West with his girlfriend Meghann Wright. After seven days of driving across country, Meghann and Roy knocked on Chelsea's door in August of 2009.
He and his girlfriend also started a catering business, Hautemess Catering. Los Angelos was a rough go, Roy was forced to adjust to a sociopathic society, a prescription drug culture, and balancing a relationship. Meghann soon left LA to pursue another boyfriend (but still lent a helping hand in the catering business). Roy appeared on his sister's show more and more frequently starring as himself, developed friendships and continued to define his style of cooking in LA. After 6 years of working in show business for his sister Chelsea, Roy was fit to be tied. The diets, long road trips, touring, and the seemingly endless alcohol consumption 365 days a year, took their toll and Roy was eager for a new challenge.
In July of 2015, Roy received a call from his other sister, Simone. Simone was visiting her friends in Palau who were investors in Elilai Restaurant. Simone asked Roy if he was interested in going to Palau, Micronesia to help them train their kitchen staff for thirty days.
Palau, an archipelago of over three hundred rock islands, is not known for its high culinary standards but is well known for its incredible pristine coral reefs, fresh fish and is one of the only marine sanctuaries in the world. Roy, with the help of the owners, Jeff and Kassi and with the full support of the staff at Elilai, transformed Elilai into a culinary wonderland. With his wealth of experience, positive attitude and ability to adjust, Roy brought to Palau, for the first time in the country’s history, fine dining.
As of this writing, October, 2017, Roy has been the Executive Chef ever since he first arrived for his initial thirty day tour of duty.
Roy now resides in Palau, Micronesia, is single, available and loving it. He has written a book of his life tales, with cooking recipes sprinkled throughout, which he will announce on the Elilai Restaurant website as soon as the publishers release it for sale.