Chef Ryan co-founded Centered Chef in August of 2005. Though his chef jacket defines his work, Chef Ryan considers himself more so an ambassador of wellness, where he advocates culinary arts and nutrition fusion. In finding inspiration for his “clean comfort” style of cooking, he draws inspiration from worldly cuisines that embrace his theme of “clean, simple and sexy”.
In expanding his knowledge of food with his understanding of specific lifestyle needs, his cuisine captures the flavors of functional, natural ingredients. His recipes harmonize flavor, texture, convenience and nutrition that support specific nutritional needs like weight loss, performance nutrition, disease state management and food allergies.
Reinventing the way people think about health food began with Chef Ryan’s personal story. Though Chef Ryan realized his passion for food while cooking at a pub during his undergrad studies, it wasn’t until years later in an uninspiring career in sales management that Chef Ryan sought to re-invent his career as well as his lifestyle. As he puts it: “I was at my physical and mental worst. At age 24, I was 5’7” and weighed 235 pounds. My doctor wanted to prescribe anti-depressants, blood pressure & cholesterol medications. This compounded with the fact I was deemed a pre-Type 2 diabetic, had asthma and smoked cigarettes…something had to change!”
Chef Ryan enrolled in the Accelerated Culinary Arts Program at Kendall College in Chicago, one of the biggest risks that served as a catalyst to his new life. Chef Ryan later earned world-class experience during his apprenticeship in France under the guidance of Chef Jean-Jacques Galliffet, at restaurants including La Cerisaie, Auberge de la Valloire and Le Moulin. It was this experience of cooking natural, regional ingredients that helped begin to mold Chef Ryan’s understanding of food and its implications on health.
Since founding Centered Chef, Chef Ryan has lost more than 50 pounds. It was this transformation, as well as a new-found awareness of food sensitivies, which helped stabilize his blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels without the assistance of conventional medicines. In continuation of the pursuit of physical and mental wellness, Chef Ryan now leads an active lifestyle by competing in triathlons and marathons, and proudly carries the title of Ironman with the completion of 2009 Ironman triathlon in Cozumel, Mexico.
As CEO and founder of Centered Chef, Chef Ryan’s vision is further perpetuated by the opening of Centered Chef culinary studio in the West Loop of Chicago. From this state-of-the-art venue space, Centered Chef’s platform will serve to “educate, entertain and inspire” a balanced lifestyle through various platforms that fuse nutrition with culinary arts.
Chef Ryan is actively involved in community-related efforts to raise awareness in the areas of health and wellness and enthusiastically participates in Chicago’s endurance sports communities. Partnerships include Building a Healthier Chicago-Let’s Move, Healthy School’s Campaign, American Diabetes Association, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Gilda’s Club Cancer Support Centers and AIDS Foundation.
In an effort to address obesity in Chicago, Chef Ryan is a principle of FIT City Chicago. Alongside Assistant Surgeon General, Dr. James Galloway, celebrity chef, Art Smith, and nutritionist and author, Pam Smith, FIT City Chicago is an initiative engaging Chicago chefs and restaurants to offer healthy choices for diners.
Chef Ryan’s expertise is featured regularly on local and national networks including WCIU, CLTV, WGN, NBC and FOX, where he showcases functional ingredients that can be prepared both easily and healthfully. He’s been recognized for his entrepreneurship with feature stories by Crain’s Business Chicago, and was recognized for the “Viewer’s Choice” award for “Crain’s: A Day In the Life of an Entrepreneur” contest. Chef Ryan is a contributor to USA Triathlon’s Fuel Station Column and has been featured in publications like Competitor, Triathelte, Chicago Athlete Magazine and Diabetes Forecast, for his expertise in food and nutrition.
Chef Ryan holds a B.S. in public relations from Illinois State University and graduated at the top of his class with an A.S. from the culinary arts program at Kendall College.
For more on Chef Ryan’s vision, watch his amazing Ironman documentary.