Culinary Quip: Chef Ryan Barlow discusses how passion for food makes connections.
Chef Ryan Barlow figured out at a young age that nothing brings people together like food. He first discovered his love of cooking at age 15 when he came home from school hungry, as most 15 year old boys are perpetually starving, and found there was nothing readily available. He grabbed his mother's recipes and made his first dish of Cowboy Potatoes. It wasn't long before he found out if he cooked, friends and family gathered to talk and hang out. "I started off simple, French Onion Soup and a few other dishes that received a lot of positive feedback." Chef Barlow now had a way to connect with people using his passion, a passion that would ultimately lead to a career.
His first jobs were in restaurants, which lead to culinary education at Stratford University in Maryland. Being a long time resident of Florida, going to culinary school afforded Ryan the chance to explore the regional cuisine of the East Coast along with ethnic culinary influences of a larger and more diverse area, all while further developing his culinary skills. Following graduation and relocation back to Florida, he held several positions in corporate restaurants and eventually took a job in a large catering company. After several years he was approached by a small operation that involved creating local fresh foods using many of their own home grown produce and herbs while sourcing local meats, poultry and fish. While his passion for food and its preparation was expanding rapidly, he missed the connection with people that first created the desire to cook. Chef Barlow decided to start his own catering company in order to reestablish the connection between food and people. During this time as a high-end caterer he was able to travel and serve celebrities, athletes and families, connecting people with their food. "It was the perfect balance for me at the time, but owning your own catering company doesn't come without challenges. One being free time," said Barlow.
Three years ago while working as a consulting chef for a manufacturer rep group Food Equipment Representatives, he met Manitowoc Foodservice Executive Corporate Chef Alison Cullin-Woodcock. This meeting resulted in him joining the Manitowoc Foodservice culinary team. Shortly after, he became a Corporate Chef, using his 15 years of culinary experience with some of the top national and international chains to showcase how Manitowoc Foodservice innovation can increase productivity, drive menu development and increase the bottom line.
Here is more about what Chef Barlow has to say about his favorite foods, trends and what the future of foodservice looks like.
Q: What employer or experience have you had that improved your culinary skills and how has that helped you in your current position? A: You learn something new everywhere you work if you are willing to be open minded. Through all of my experiences of working with other established corporate chefs, I've gained perspective and learned to adapt my culinary skills to specific equipment, and how to apply it across a broad variety of segments.
Q: Describe your favorite dessert? A: Melk Tart - This recipe takes me back to my childhood. South Africans would know the name of this dish as Melk tert and not the English translation is Milk Tart. There are some British versions of this dish (I'm not sure who borrowed the recipe from whom) but the classic Northern Custard Tart is the closest.