Chef Ryan Taylor is the executive chef of Kevin Taylor’s at the Opera House in Denver, Colorado. Today we asked him to talk about their restaurant and how he started in the culinary industry.
FriendsEAT: Describe the cuisine served at Kevin Taylor’s.
Chef Ryan Taylor: New American
FE: What makes the restaurant special
Chef Ryan: Kevin Taylor’s at the Opera House is located in the Chambers Grant Salon in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. The elegant restaurant serves pre-theater cocktails and dinner on evenings with performances in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Buell Theater and/or Boettcher Concert Hall.
FE: Where did you receive your culinary training?
Chef Ryan: I began working at one of my dad’s restaurants at age 15, where I worked garde manger on the weekends and ultimately became a full-time employee after finishing high school. I worked my way through the ranks, and moved to Spain at age 20 to work at a two-star Michelin restaurant. Eventually, I moved back to Denver and have served as executive chef at Kevin Taylor’s at the Opera House for more than two-and-a-half years. I’ve earned my level-one sommelier and cicerone.
FE: Did you grow up cooking or did cooking come to you later in life?
Chef Ryan: I am the son of Kevin Taylor, one of Denver’s most accomplished chefs, who operates a variety of successful restaurants and catering operations, and has cooked for celebrities, presidents and foreign dignitaries. I started in the restaurant business at age 15, and has since held positions at Mugaritz, a two Michelin starred restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain, as well as a selection of popular Denver restaurants, including Kevin Taylor’s at the Opera House, where I am currently executive chef.
FE: Who in your life influenced your cooking the most?
Chef Ryan: My biggest influence in cooking is my dad, Kevin Taylor. He has taught me so much about food, cooking and the restaurant industry. Growing up in kitchens and seeing how artistic cooking can be was very influential. My dad helped me
find my way into falling in love with food, and I can’t thank him enough for that. Every time I watch him cook, it inspires me more and more.
FE: What made you decide to become a chef?
Chef Ryan: Growing up, I was fortunate enough to get a job in the kitchen at one of my dad’s restaurants. I wasn’t quite sure of my path at that young age, but as I learned more, I fell in love with cooking and food and wanted to immerse myself and
learn as much as I could about cooking. I love the excitement and beauty that can come from food and cooking.
FE: What misconceptions do people have when they first enter the culinary field?
Chef Ryan: I think young aspiring cooks don’t realize how much hard work goes into being a cook or chef. It’s countless hours, sleepless nights, multiple injuries and copious amounts of stress that go into cooking at a well-run restaurant. All your time will be dedicated to your job. It’s definitely a labor of love, and you have to really enjoy what you’re doing and love your job to succeed in this field.
FE: What is the best cooking tip you can share for a novice?
Chef Ryan: In my opinion, I’ve noticed that younger cooks don’t taste enough. You should always be tasting your food, or even someone else’s food. Go out to eat, taste and try as much food as you can. This will help you become a better cook by knowing flavors. Always ask yourself questions, such as, “What can I add?” “What can I take away?” and “What can I do to make this better?”
FE: What are your three favorite cooking tools?
Chef Ryan: My favorite cooking tool is a 6-inch off-set spatula. I always have it on me, and everyone in the kitchen always notices that I have it. It’s great for everything, including stirring, tasting, turning fish — you name it! My other favorite tools are a sharp knife and a sturdy rubber spatula.
FE: When you’re home, what is your guilty food pleasure?
Chef Ryan: I love eating pickles at home. The first thing I do when I get home from work is go straight to the fridge and grab a spear.
FE: What is your Favorite cookbook?
Chef Ryan: My favorite cookbook is always a new cookbook. I love reading about different chefs’ ideas and philosophies about cooking and food. It’s always inspiring to see what great things chefs all over the world are doing with food. I’m always
buying new cookbooks and adding them to my collection, and the best thing is going back and reading ones I haven’t read in a while that spark new ideas. I always go back to Pierre Gagnaire’s “Reinventing French Cuisine.” Pierre Gagnaire thinks about food and flavors in such an interesting way that the fusion becomes something magical.
Kevin Taylor’s at the Opera House is located at 1345 Champa St., Denver, Colorado 80202
Nearby Landmarks: Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, and The Commons on Champa
Phone Number: (303) 640-1012
Also check out Chef Ryan Taylor’s Jumbo Lump Crab Salad Recipe