Coffee Conversations ft. Chef Ryan Mead of The Bent Brick
Time again for “Coffee Conversations.” Today’s guest is Chef Ryan Mead from The Bent Brick. I first visited the Bent Brick on the Little Green Pickle Food Crawl. (If you haven’t read about that you NEED TOO). It is a beautiful space in NW Portland. They serve local, seasonal American restaurant fare specializing in whole animal butchery. They source a TON of local ingredients and create a very family friendly eating environment.
Chef Ryan is a well respected and connected chef in Portland. If you cook- he probably knows you. We decided to meet at the Daily Cafe in the Pearl. Which is a regular spot for Chef Ryan. We quickly got to chatting….
Q. What is your coffee drink of choice
A. A latte hands down, every time. Double shot. Little splash of simple syrup. Some of My favorite spots are Water Ave coffee, Cathedral Coffee, Open Space etc. I love coffee but it’s always, a latte. I actually found it is easy to destroy a latte. Over steaming the milk or pulling the shots in too soon. So, a good latte is important.
Q. So, what’s your story? How did you end up here?
A. Well that’s a long story, but it can be short. My parents got divorced when I was really little. My dad lives here in Portland and my mom lives in Michigan. I used to spend my summers in Oregon, it has always been a second home to me. I have moved around a lot. I lived here, Michigan and Louisiana then, I hitch hiked around awhile…now back here. Its a funny story, I was on my way to Seattle with a roommate (moving there) and we were right outside Park City, Utah when we hit a deer. So we took all of our stuff and mailed it to my dad, here in Portland. The car drove, so we limped it to Portland to stay with my dad until we got to Seattle. My roommate fell in love with Portland. So I started looking for a job and found one at Decarli’s In Beaverton. I met some of the best people I’ve ever met in my whole life and haven’t been back to Michigan since.
Q. Who is your role model and why
A. My first role model was probably my grandmother which is where I developed my love for cooking. We used to go to her house for the weekend and she would make breakfast and it evolved into me being able to cook the eggs or the bacon or whatever. I didn’t realize it until later in life, but my step dad is probably my biggest role model. He is a model citizen, was in the navy, just a great guy. My sisters and I obviously weren’t his kids but he always took care of us like we were. He taught me how to hunt, fish etc. Obviously as a teen I didn’t appreciate it…at all. Once I was in my early 20’s I realized he was my biggest mentor and role model, hands down.
Q. Who is your celebrity crush
A. I’m not sure I have one … But I guess Mila Kunis..because she is gorgeous. A babe.
Q. If you had a time machine that only worked once, where in history or the future are you going?
A. The 20’s because I just got done watching Boardwalk Empire- it was a simpler time- no computers, cell phones etc. life was just simple.
Q. What are your favorite activities to do in your free time?
A. Going to see shows with my friends. Going to the Good Foot, in the basement. Um let’s see. Take my dog to the dog park (Ryan has a German shorthair). I actually live near Pier Park in St. John’s so I go play disc golf. Music. I actually play the piano.
Q.. What is your proudest achievement?
A. Probably where I am today in my career, becoming a chef of a restaurant at 29. That’s pretty good. Finding someone with a restaurant like Scott (Owner of The Bent Brick) he is the best co-worker you could ever have. That is probably my biggest one.
Q. Your house is burning down, what three items do you grab?
A. My dog, my girlfriend, my computer in that order.
Q. What are your vices?
A. Coffee, used to be cigarettes but I stopped smoking a month ago. Umm, video games does that count? I’m a PC gamer. It’s a whole another level of nerd.
Q. What was the best thing to happen to you this week?
A. Probably an email I got about a perspective dog I want to adopt. I am adopting another German shorthair and I’ve been emailing with this organization that places German shorthairs specifically. I got an email about this dog and it sounds like a perfect fit with the dog I have at home.
Q. What’s in your fridge?
A. Actually a lot, we just went grocery shopping. Flank and short rib, pot roast, a whole chicken, some pho. I made about 4 gallons of pho. What we ( his girlfriend Tara, who is also the assistant pastry chef at St. Jack, lives with Ryan) usually do is go shopping then on Sunday or Monday (my days off) I’ll make something and we will eat it all week. I do have a lot of cereal and milk. If you ask any chef how much cereal they have they will tell you- a ridiculous amount. And cheese, there is probably $40 worth of cheese in my fridge. We are both cooks so our lifestyle at home is kind of an extension of our work. We have a chef’s kitchen.
Q. You can invite 8 people to a dinner party( alive dead or fictional). Who is on your list? And who is your first alternate guest?
A. 8 of my closest friends. The 8 people who I am closest with. They would be a hell of a lot more fun than people alive or dead I didn’t know.
Q. Describe yourself in 3 words
A. Fun, gregarious, energetic
Q. What is one of your best qualities?
A. Loyalty, I’m pretty loyal to my dinner party of 8. I feel like it’s a huge thing. I’d actually say my ethics built who I am. I’m a man of my word so my ethics. I’m a Virgo -so I’m very analytical. I don’t ever put myself into a situation unless I’ve thought about it first. I’d say loyalty and my ethics are who I am.
Q. What is your favorite meal/ dish?
A. That depends on my mood. Huge proponent of a good slice of pie, pizza that is. I’m a cook so my favorite dishes change. My go-to is counter pizza, there is something about that slice of pizza that has been sitting in the box on the counter all night at one in the morning… It does something on the counter top that makes it better.
Q. What is one piece of advice/quote that you try to live by? Or your favorite.
A. There are so many good ones but if I could give a piece of advice, My biggest piece of advice to other people would be,”keep your wits about you and stay calm.” It would eliminate so many problems.
Chef Ryan was a wonderful interviewee. We had a lot of laughs during this coffee chat. I would highly suggest you pop on over to The Bent Brick and check out the incredible things Chef Ryan is putting out. From my experience it is definitely worth trying and might become one of your favorites.
Perfect patio for this AMAZING weather. Get to the Bent Brick asap!