Sunday, August 18, 2013
Inside the Kitchen #2: Lodge on the Desert
He's head chef at Lodge on the Desert, 3 time winner of the Iron Chef of Tucson, and The American Culinary Federation deemed him one of the top 16 junior chefs in the nation. The Chef I'm talking about is Chef Ryan Clark and interviewed him while he was cooking for a party at the Lodge. He placed down his skillet and I asked him how did he get into cooking. Ryan said the first restaurant he worked at was Risky Business, much like many teenagers, he worked at the place because he thought he could make more cash. Overtime he grew more fond of cooking and from there sprouted a passion for it. Then he got a job at En Fuego and at the rightful age of nineteen, became head chef.
After that Ryan decided to go to the Culinary Institute of America. I asked him what it was like there and told me he really liked it there. Ryan thought the experience was very hands on. He was also really familiar with the material taught at the institute because he learned under a CIA graduate while working in Tucson before entering the CIA.
While moving around the kitchen, during our interview, I asked Ryan how it feels winning the Iron Chef of Tucson again. He said it felt like winning the last time but, different and really cool. Ryan and his sous chefs prepped for the competition by doing a "team building" exercise the night before that he does not recommend. They also tried to think of dishes they could make if secret ingredient was a protein or a vegetable or a curve ball like an egg.
Speaking of proteins; Ryan's specialty is Twice Roasted NY Strip. I think if that doesn't make your stomach growl, something's clearly wrong with you. Though he makes a mean NY Strip, His favorite style of cuisine is French. He enjoys it because he feels it IS the basis of all cooking.
I asked Ryan while he was checking a meatball to see if its done, what restaurants HE likes to eat at. He replied that he eats at places around the University since he lives around there. One of his favorites is Pasco. Then I asked him a really tough question. If he wasn't a chef what would you be and why? He said he would be a landscaper because he likes the outdoors and the opportunity to create and be precise. He admitted on his days off and joked how he's kind of OCD.
Some tips he has for any up coming chefs out there is to never feel comfortable and continue learning. Plus carry a notebook just to jot down notes.
What's in the future for Ryan Clark nothing much really. Just hanging, being busy, and being a true Iron Chef.
Posted by Foodie the Kid at 7:02 PM