Wednesday, January 28, 2009

about the chef (and his wife too)

my wife jennifer and i are transplants to atlanta, like most in this city, or so it seems. originally from indianapolis, we have found our new home in the south. atlanta has provided us the perfect platform from which to start this journey. a wonderful balance of food, arts, entertainment, nature and culture (and the mild winters don't hurt) makes it a wonderful city to live and work in.

the path to the present!

after high school i attended the art institute of atlanta's culinary program, receiving my degree in culinary arts. after graduation i headed back to indianapolis where the true education began. working several different jobs over the course of a few years i felt lost in this business until a friend was kind enough to shoot me in the direction of chef greg hardesty. at the time greg was running his first restaurant h2o sushi, and had received a lot of acclaim as the best sushi bar in town. a part time job making salads for greg was the beginning for me.

i spent a lot of time there watching, learning and finally enjoying myself in this business. after two and a half years of working for chef hardesty he opened his second restaurant elements. a restaurant that specialized in modern american cuisine with french and asian technique. elements is considered to this day to be indy's top dining destination.

at the time my wife was attending indiana university and upon her graduation we both decided it was time for a change of pace. my brother and his wife had been living in atlanta for several years, so it seemed like a natural step to head back to the south. i knew right away that the only place i wanted to work was in the kitchen of bacchanalia. chefs anne quatrano, and clifford harrison provided the perfect education on the importance of the ingredient and the care that it should receive. i worked the line at bacchanalia for just over a year before i transferred to their sister restaurant float away cafe as the sous chef. some of the best food i have had the privilege of cooking, float away cafe provided the same quality that i had grown accustomed to with the addition of a high paced atmosphere. towards the end of my time there i had an epiphany regarding my future that caused me to jump tracks from the world of fine dining to casual dining. i realized that while the food i had been preforming was very much me, the attitude was not.

i had caught word of a new place on the north side that was doing something that sounded a lot like what i envisioned owning for myself one day, it was muss and turners. i went up one afternoon and met with ryan turner and todd mussman and it was a perfect match. the same principles applied to the food as they did at bacchanalia, but without the pretense. a calm comfortable place that seemed to make me smile every time i arrived through the doors. it is here that i have been able to grow relationships with the local farmers, meet and talk to patrons, and learn a tremendous amount about small business. i have been with ryan and todd for three years now as the chef de cuisine, and have loved it every step of the way.

so that brings us to the present. i couldn't have asked for better friends and mentors, as they have provided me with an amazing journey and an exciting future. these prelude dinners are the beginning of what's to come. a casual dining experience in an intimate setting. a venue that allows me to talk with the guests and hear their thoughts on the food, the city and all the possibilities. along with my wonderful wife, i hope to sit back one day and see all of the smiling faces that have brought me to this point, enjoying food and drink through the doors of staplehouse!

cheers - ryan hidinger