Click Here To Listen Nashville Business 100 Leading Persons In Hospitality Ryan Brewer
Head Chef at Nashville City Club.
I am originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I spent the first 25 years of my life. I began working in restaurants at the age of fifteen as a bus boy. I then moved up to a dishwasher and ultimately a cook at that same restaurant.
After graduating from Eastern Michigan University in 2003 with a Bachelors in Written Communications, I moved to Chicago in the hopes of becoming a journalist or writer. But I didn’t love it. I wasn’t motivated sitting behind a desk. It wasn’t me. I always had and continued to work in restaurants and I discovered that my true passion, my true love, was in the kitchen. Creating dishes and memories through that passion is what drove me.
I enrolled in the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago in 2008 and dedicated myself to learning and improving however I could. Upon graduation, I worked in any variety of kitchens that I felt could give me the kinds of experiences I needed to be a better cook. And that’s what it was about then. I didn’t think about being a chef. I wanted to be a good cook. I worked two jobs at the same time for years both out of want of experience and necessity to get by.
In 2012 I fell into my first management position at Taverna 750 in the Boy’s Town Neighborhood in Chicago’s North side. The sous chef had quit and I was offered the job. Then, a year later, I took a position as executive chef at Le Grande Vie in downtown Chicago. I wasn’t ready for it. The restaurant eventually closed and, feeling despondent and discouraged about my path I had chosen, I knew I needed to make a change.
I decided to move to Nashville in 2014. I had visited before and I knew I liked the city. And I also knew it was growing and on the verge of a boom. I wanted to part of that growth. I knew that as a city grew, so does its food scene. I moved here without knowing anyone and without having a job. I arrived at the end of April and began looking for work.
I answered an ad from the Nashville City Club looking for a grill cook. Even though I knew it was a step back from my management experience, I knew I needed to start working as soon as I could. I was able to rise quickly there and was made a chef in 2015. I have been acting as head chef at the club since 2017.