5 minutes with Chef Ryan

Anyone who follows us on Instagram will know how much we love Chef Ryan's food. What we love most about Ryan's cooking is his incredible ability to make healthy and nourishing food burst with flavour and taste absolutely delicious. Ryan has recently opened Left Field in Carnegie, which is one of our new favorite cafes.

We were lucky enough to get to taste a few of the healthiest dishes (see imagery below) and sit down and have a chat to Ryan about his health and wellness journey and get an insight into his kitchen!

Here are our favorites :

-Sautéed asparagus, Broccoli, Beans and Kale with Poached Eggs, Almonds and Avocado Hummus.

-Braised Moroccan Lamb Shoulder on a Pomegranate and Pistachio Quinoa Salad.

-Sautéed Middle Easter Cauliflower with Chickpeas, Pomegranate, Dukkah and Poached Eggs.

1. We are both so inspired by your incredible ability to use fresh and clean ingredients to make your food. What inspires you to cook healthy food?

To be honest it was driven by the people and the customers! We had no intention at all of being such a heavily health based cafe at Tall Timber. But once the healthy foodies started coming in waves, I knew it was time to learn how to turn fresh, clean ingredients into meals packed with fresh flavours! I had never used quinoa, kale or coconut oil before, so it was amazing to learn how to use superfoods and put my touch on them. I haven't looked back since! Now it's all about trying to inspire others to cook healthy and clean food and educating them about how you can still have as much flavour as ever, and even more satisfaction!

2. We know you have gone through an amazing transformation in your health and with your view on being a chef. What clicked for you to lead such a healthy lifestyle and how has this impacted your life?

There were two things that really made me click into transforming my lifestyle. The first of which were having a few health scares with my heart. At the age of 27 I was rushed off to emergency from work when my heart started jumping out of my chest. I was lying in a hospital bed, on morphine and my heart rate was at 215bpm (which is crazy). They had to stop my heart and use the electric defibrillator on my chest to shock it back into rhythm! They said there's no proven prevention for my condition and so I never know when it will come back. It could happen again tomorrow, or never again. I generally have to know where the closest hospital is to me at all times, as I need to get to the hospital in a 45-minute window to be treated. This was really scary for me and from there I knew I had to change my personal lifestyle and eating habits. I was overweight and generally unhealthy. While now I have to live with it in my mind I still try to make the most out of the time I have, and to do whatever I can to help others improve and enjoy their own lives!

Then once starting at Tall Timber I decided to try the Paleo Diet for a month and see how I went experiencing the life that many of my customers live. I loved experiencing life gluten and dairy free and having the ability to create amazing eating experiences. After the first month, I had lost weight, felt fitter and had so much more energy. I loved being Paleo so much I decided to continue and lost 30kg and 5 sizes over 12 months. I felt incredible for it.

3. We are so excited for your new café! Can you give us a little insight into what has inspired you with the menu?

Haha thank you! I am so excited about Left Field! I felt my time had come to an end at Tall Timber and I had achieved everything I aimed to. It was time for a fresh challenge and heading into ownership was my ideal next step. The menu philosophy at Left Field is very similar to as it was at Tall Timber. It's all about having nourishing, wholesome, fresh and “sexy" dishes that are easy on the eye and easier on the hips! The most important part is to have a balance. Yes, it is important to eat healthy for your body, but it's just as important to give yourself a treat and to balance your mind! There will definitely be a few “naughty dishes" to attract all forms of appetites.

4. What is your favourite item on the new menu?

Such a tough question! It could be any one of the Beetroot Cured Trout Fillet with a nourishing little quinoa and veggie packed Salad, the new and improved Sautéed Greens with Avocado Hummus or the finger licking naughty Oreo Mascarpone Stuffed Donut Sliders with Banana and Honeycomb. It's hard to pick a favourite when the aim is to make every dish a winner!

5. You are well known for the flavour in your food. What are your top 3 herbs and spices that you use and why?

I LOVE my fresh herbs and spices as I have a strong history cooking Middle Eastern Food!

My top 3 are:

1. Mint: The herb that gives ANY dish a burst of freshness! It goes exceptionally well with sautéed greens, salads and fish!

2. Coriander: One of the most talked about and debated herbs…You either hate it or love it, and I LOVE IT! It is such a fresh, unique flavour that also has the ability to bring a dish to life! With the combination of coriander and lime, almost any vegetables or salad will taste the better for it!

3. Cumin: The king of spices! The smell of toasted cumin seeds, ground freshly brings amazing aromatics to a dish. Or added to nuts and coriander seeds to create dukkah, which is versatile with eggs, veggies, salads, chicken or lamb. Cumin is the one spice you cant not have in your pantry!

6. What are your top five foods you can't live without using in your cooking?

1. Fresh Lemon or Lime. The masters of bringing any food to life! The use of fresh citrus to meals really make them pop! Also amazing for digestion, as well as cleaning your palate so you can appreciate all the flavours in the dish!

2. Pomegranate Molasses. Go to your local gourmet deli and ask them for some of this stuff. You will never taste something as amazing as this. The sensation in your mouth is indescribable! Add a little drizzle to salads and meats and you will never look back.

3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil. My go to oil! So many more health benefits than other oils, a little drizzle of EVOO to the end of your meals makes them look alive and taste fresher!

4. Sea Salt. Any kitchen without sea salt is a kitchen that lacks flavour. The most important thing isn't the salt itself but how you use it. If you season your meal with salt at the end, you will just really taste the salt. But add it bit by bit during your cooking - every time you add something to your pan, add a little sea salt. It helps it cook, and the finished product is a meal which you can taste every individual ingredient at it's highest flavour potential. Salt opens your taste buds, so you get the most out of your ingredients.

5. Coconut Oil. Life changing stuff. I rarely sauté anything without it these days.. The health benefits are well known compared to other oils, and the flavour it adds to the dish is priceless. A must have!