Iowa native Samuel Charles worked in Chicago and Denver before opening Rodina in Cedar Rapids in 2019. Two years later, he was the Iowa Restaurant Association’s Chef of the Year. Photo: Pilsen Photo Co-op.
Samuel Charles, the executive chef at Rodina in Cedar Rapids, is in the running for a James Beard Award, one of the culinary world’s highest honors. He is the only Iowan on this year’s list of semifinalists, announced Jan. 25, and will find out whether he’s a full-on nominee on March 29. The awards ceremony is set for June 5 in Chicago.
Charles and his life and business partner, Phoebe Charles, opened Rodina in January 2019 in Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village. The restaurant’s name means “family” in Czech and its seasonal menu offers upscale twists on familiar Midwestern fare. The current mix includes rainbow trout and pork chops with apple butter.
Two years after Rodina opened, the Iowa Restaurant Association named Charles its Chef of the Year.