Though Scott Ryan has never appeared on the Food Network's Chopped, he's familiar with mystery ingredients. The executive chef at The Country Club in Pepper Pike was named the American Culinary Federation's 2012 Chef of the Year after out-cooking three other regional winners at a national competition in Florida. In a new twist this year, the chefs had one hour to prepare four dishes using a mystery protein — flat iron steak. "They said the flavors were dynamite," Ryan says of the judges. We spoke with Ryan about bringing the title to Northeast Ohio.
How does it feel to be named Chef of the Year?
Quite honestly, it's kind of crazy. I obviously don't believe I'm the best chef in the world. I'm just good at what I do, and I did well in the competition.
What did you do with the secret ingredient that was unexpected?
I think my entree was a little over the top. It was a chimichurri flat iron with chorizo risotto croquettes. Risotto isn't something you can throw together in a few minutes, so we really pushed ourselves to get that done and then rolled it into a croquette and breaded and fried it.
What's you favorite food to cook?
I love rabbit. I'm a wild-game guy. I love to hunt, so rabbit, venison, things like that. We do a really good rabbit dish with Chanterelle mushrooms and gnocchi at the country club.