Thanks to a combination of the internet and various food channels on television, people these days are much more open to exploring new cuisine. Pangea Kitchen owner Randy Hobson has taken advantage of this expanded interest by introducing new and different foods to the Evansville community.
Randy’s passion for travel and his desire to experience new things has helped him to create a restaurant that is both innovative and unique. Surprisingly, Randy did not start his career in the food industry. He originally worked at a corporate company in the plastic packaging industry for 25 years. At age 48, he retired to pursue work in the food space. “This is my mid-life crisis we’ll call it,” Randy laughs.
Randy opened Pangea Kitchen with the goal of bringing people together. After all, “pangea” refers to a time when the world was all one continent. Pangea Kitchen specifically has community tables so customers can observe each other’s dishes and have conversations about food. “We’re very serious about our food and authenticity, but at the same time we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” says Randy. “We want people to come in and have a good time.”
Not only can people come in and eat together, but they can stop by and work with the Pangea chefs. “If someone comes in and wants to learn about how we make a certain dish, we love that. It’s especially meaningful when people who have strong ethnic backgrounds come work with our chefs. We’ve had people from India, Greece, and all over the world. We share with them and they share with us,” says Randy.
This desire to learn from other cultures has created a great mix of food. While Pangea is most known for the Italian and Thai fusion, they also dabble in Detroit-style pizza, Japanese ramen, and even Brazilian cuisine. “I get ideas from a lot of places. There is cool stuff happening in Detroit that’s very ethnic-driven and authentic. Right after I retired, I went to Detroit because I was interested in the renaissance going on there. It’s a city that had to pull itself up by its bootstraps and really made do with so little. Being in that position creates interesting and creative ideas,” says Randy.
Creativity is well-reflected in the food and the service at Pangea Kitchen – even to the point where the restaurant is designed with an open kitchen so visitors can see how dishes are made. “Our kitchen is open because we are proud of the ingredients we use, and we’re proud of the equipment we have. This also encourages interaction with our customers,” notes Randy.
Randy and his team also like to get creative on the spot. “When we have people eat in our private dining room, we love when they turn over the keys to us. It’s fun for our team and for our chefs. Sometimes we’ll put a dish in front of someone, and they’re completely mind blown by the ingredients and how they work together to create a unique taste,” says Randy.
The Evansville community is definitely proud to have such an innovative spot to eat right here in the neighborhood. “There are people who have moved away and then come home to visit family, and we’re first on their list to visit,” says Randy. He has also noticed that while Evansville is growing, it still has a small-town feel. “People come to our restaurant, and we share stories about food and travel. In big cities, those interactions don’t really happen. They’re more like transactions, not interactions,” says Randy.
Pangea Kitchen truly is the place to “come together.” It’s no wonder they’ve been such a hit in Evansville. Stop by soon for a delicious meal and don’t forget to check them out on the Towny app for iPhone or Android before you go!