San Diego native Ryan Orlando is a “self-taught” chef who got his start in the kitchen at the age of 16. With no formal training but self-driven by an intense desire to further himself in his chosen craft, Ryan decided to leave his hometown of Encinitas and depart for New York City in 2003.
Upon his cross country move, Ryan quickly landed a position in the kitchen of esteemed Chef Charlie Palmer’s flagship restaurant Aureole– a showcase for the chef’s unabashed, signature progressive American cuisine. There, he sharpened his skills under Sous Chef Amar Santana, currently of Laguna Beach’s Broadway by Amar Santana and Costa Mesa’s Vaca. After his time in New York, Ryan decided to move back to the West Coast where he was hired to assist Chef Jeffrey Strauss at Del Mar’s dining institution, Pamplemousse Grille.
Seeking to deepen his perspective of the country’s dining landscape and to further his own culinary footprint, Ryan then made the move north to Portland where he became sous chef at the now-shuttered Filbert’s Café. During his time in Portland, Ryan was exposed to an inspiring food community dedicated to making an impact on the country’s gastronomic movement through the quality of ingredients sourced for each dish. After gleaning a wide bank of knowledge during his tenure in the Pacific Northwest, San Diego was pulling at him again and he settled back in his hometown.
With an even greater appetite to develop a wordly perspective of the industry, Ryan traveled to one of the most predominant global culinary hotbeds, Copenhagen. There, he staged at his brother and Noma alum Matt’s renowned restaurant Amass while spending a significant amount of time foraging everything from wild strawberries to nasturtium with Sous Chef David Parrott. It was during his experience there that he developed a more holistic understanding about how to bring both local and natural environments directly to the restaurant.
That mindset informed Ryan in the kitchen upon his return to San Diego at Del Mar Country Club where he worked under his mentor, Tommy DiMella. After a brief stint at Lomas Santa Fe and multiple visits to Campfire where he was immediately drawn to the restaurant’s forward-thinking gastronomic culture, Ryan learned of the Chef de Cuisine job opening and felt immediately inclined to apply. After a brief exchange with Executive Chef Andrew Bachelier whose work Ryan already admired, it wasn’t long before he became a permanent fixture in the Campfire kitchen. Through the daily use of live fire cooking, grilling methods and smoking techniques, Ryan is constantly searching for innovative ways to add depth of flavor, playing a crucial role in the current progressive and collaborative gastronomic scene of North County.