I met Chef Ryan Summer in Cary, North Carolina, on a gorgeous sunny afternoon.
We sat outside to enjoy the sunshine during the interview.
Chef Ryan has been working at Chef’s Palette in Cary since May 2015.
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, he decided to spread his wings and moved to Boone, North Carolina, to go to college and to focus on studying sociolology.
He started in the “culinary world” at age twenty-two. He is so proud to have learned so much while under the tutelle of great mentors and great chefs.
Of course my big question during the interview was how does one go from sociology to kitchen life?
The way Chef Ryan talked about the relationship and the connection between sociology and a life in the kitchen was fascinating. The way people act, do they work for the passion of food, what personality do they have. All of these qualities and parallels he was describing were really interesting. As a travel writer I have heard many paralles between life with food, but never would of thought of this analogy.
Chef Ryan started to explain how soccer for example and cooking is very similar.
Yes, growing up, Chef Ryan not only played soccer but was very often the captain.
He related his life in the kitchen as such.
Soccer is all about your team, team building, working together, listening to each others thoughts and be open to new ideas. I love the fact that he can say: “ I see myself as a leader in a kitchen”. As captain of the soccer team, Ryan already had the qualities that he would eventually need to become “Chef Ryan”.
He is very proud of the fact that he started at an entry level position in the kitchen. After starting as a garde-manger in a French bistro, his passion and fervor for food and cooking moved him very quickly to a sous-chef.
He stayed in Boone for three years and soon after getting married to his wife Jenna, they decided to move back to Atlanta.
Soon enough, they both decided that Atlanta was not going to be the place where they will plant roots and have children. As Jenna’s parents were from Clayton, North Carolina, they decided to come to the triangle area.
Chef Ryan was offered a job on the spot at Peak City Grill. The move from Atlanta to Cary, North Carolina, was imminent.
Chef Ryan Summer wanted to earn his “echelons” by starting as a line cook at Peak City Grill.
At Peak City, he grew as a Chef in his cooking, purchase skills, cost control of food, and much more.
He was the executive chef there for a year before he decided to expand his horizon.
Everywhere he has worked, he has earned his “stripes” pretty quickly.
Chef Ryan knew Kathie, the owner of Chef’s Palette, and liked her personality. He was hired in May 2015, as the executive chef.
The Chef’s Palette has opened a new world of possibilities for Ryan. He is proud to say that Kathie is not only open to his creativity, but she is also open to suggestions to what he brings to the table. He has an herb garden behind the restaurant where he grows heirloom tomatoes, organic flowers for decorations and even eatable flowers.
He tries as much as he can to buy local and is also very consciencious of budget and controlling costs.
When you read the menu, you can see that many of his inspirations come from his French and Italian background, and his love for sushi.
Chef Ryan believes that every person in the kitchen is a chef in their own right….He looks at it as a collective effort and a way to collaborate with his kitchen family.
“I don’t like to take all the credit “ Chef Ryan Summers says.
To keep himself growing in the industry, he loves to experiment. He grows a lot in the culinary field by bouncing ideas off his staff. He does believe that passion in a kitchen goes a long way. When every single person in the kitchen cares, it is amazing the results that a restaurant can achieve.
When you put your heart into the food, people keep coming back. They feel it when they taste Chef Ryan’s food.
When we went back to the kitchen, I loved to see the connections between everyone.
I spent almost an hour in the kitchen and it was a pleasure to see the staff interacting with each other. Chef Ryan continually praised the qualities of each of them. Respect is a value at Chef’s Palette! And the food that comes out of there reflects it!