| Follow Us:


Enoch Pratt's Roswell Encina talks BBQ, truffle oil and his favorite dish to impress

Roswell Encina at City Cafe in Mount Vernon
Roswell Encina at City Cafe in Mount Vernon - Dara Bunjon
Editor's note: Food writer Dara Bunjon has launched a new column, Lunch With, in which she shares a Baltimore personality’s love of food. On the menu is the guest of honor’s biography, sprinkled with delectable items from the menu and a generous sample of the food-related conversation. Read her last Lunch With column for Examiner.com here

Who better to kick-start the Lunch With column but Baltimore’s own bon vivant? One of Baltimore Magazine’s Top Singles 2013, Roswell Encina has been the director of communications at the Enoch Pratt Free Library since 2007. A Filipino by birth, Roswell spent numerous years back and forth living in the U. S. due to his father’s position in the U.S. Navy. No slouch when it comes to academics, he completed college in three years in the Philippines and graduated at 19.

He's not a cook by profession, but he knows a thing or two about food. Roswell is a certified BBQ judge, a title he picked up when he was on-air talent at a Memphis television station. Encina chose Mount Vernon’s City Café for our lunch date.

Dara: Instead of St. Peter at the pearly gates, you met Julia Child, what would she ask you?
Roswell: Was it yummy?

Encina’s first job was marketing for Sam’s Club in Salisbury, where he added college courses in broadcasting that led to working at Salisbury’s WMBT TV. His next gig took him to Huntsville, Ala. It was there he met Adam May and Derek Valcourt – each at competing stations.

They didn’t know it at the time, but all three would reunite in Baltimore, both May and Valcourt at WJZ-TV where Roswell had a short tenure before accepting his position at the Enoch Pratt Free Library. 

Dara: What is your guilty food pleasure?
Roswell: Royal Farms’ fried chicken and Whole Foods’ rotisserie chicken. I have to immediately cut the rotisserie chicken in half and put half in the refrigerator or I’ve been known to eat the whole thing.
“I always order City Café’s Yellowfin Tuna Salad,” Roswell says. His salad featured tuna steak, mixed greens, balsamic roasted tomatoes, warm red potatoes and a goat cheese/tomato/garlic/basil vinaigrette. My choice was the lunch special: lobster and orzo with peas and zucchini. With both of us food lovers we came to an agreement early on we would share our dishes with one another.

Dara: What has been your most memorable lunch?
Roswell: Dim sum in San Francisco – I tried chicken feet.
Dara: What was your culinary epic fail?
Roswell: Chicken marsala —  don’t drink and cook. I had company coming over and had a couple drinks before hand and totally screwed up the recipe. We ended up ordering pizza.
Dara: What is the best dish that you cook?
Roswell: When I want to impress I make Osso Buco with Risotto Milanese — Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe.
Roswell is passionate about the Enoch Pratt. “What people know is that the Enoch Pratt has books, and now, even e-books but it offers numerous resources like free kids programs.”

Dara: What is the oldest food item in your refrigerator?
Roswell: A jar of Prego pasta sauce – circa, maybe two years ago.
Roswell’s sense of fun and adventure can be gleaned from this anecdote. On his 42nd birthday, he wanted to do 42 of his favorite things. Impossible to do in a day, he gave himself a week to get pho at Mekong Delta, crème brûlée at Sotto Sopra, Sascha’s chopped salad, a Manhattan at B&O American Brasserie, monkey bread at Bond Street Social, dinner at Charleston and the list goes on. 

Dara: You can choose anyone to have lunch with living, fictional or dead – who would it be?
Roswell: The Food Network’s The Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten.) She always entertains her friends in style in the Hamptons.

In spite of his love for food, the dapper Roswell stays trim and svelte.
“I go to the gym five or six days a week – I run, lift weights and a bit of boot camp,” Encina responded while we shared a fruit cobbler.

Dara: What food could disappear tomorrow and you wouldn’t miss it?
Roswell: Hard-boiled eggs. My mother would force me to eat them every day. That also goes for deviled eggs, though I like poached eggs.
Dara: Top Chef, Chopped, MasterChef, Food Network Star, Hell’s Kitchen, or Iron Chef?
Roswell: Top Chef
Dara: Truffle Oil?
Roswell: Yes, yes and yes
Hope you enjoyed having lunch with us.

Dara Bunjon has a passion for food – its origins, preparation and consumption. Her passion became her business Dara Does It. Her rants, raves, reviews, reminiscences, and recipes can be found regularly on her Dining Dish and Dara Does It blogs.

Signup for Email Alerts
Share this page
Signup for Email Alerts