Chef and Owner, Port Fonda
As executive chef/owner of Port Fonda, Patrick Ryan is at the forefront of the culinary revolution in Kansas City, Missouri. He takes a simple, ingredient-focused approach to Mexican street food, melding authentic flavors with a farm-driven Midwestern sensibility. Ryan’s passion for Mexican cuisine first developed from his relationship with the people, as he started working in the kitchen at a very young age alongside Mexican cooks. His love of the energy and foodstuffs led him to open the open the first iteration of Port Fonda, an underground restaurant in a vintage Airstream trailer, in summer 2010. He went on to open the brick-and-mortar Port Fonda in summer 2012, seamlessly translating the fast-paced, uncensored street-food mentality to a restaurant environment.
Ryan earned a Bachelor’s degree from the Western State College of Colorado, followed by a culinary degree at Le Cordon Bleu’s Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon. He then worked under celebrated chef Rick Bayless at Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in Chicago. A Kansas City native, Ryan returned to his hometown in 2010 to open Port Fonda, where he is not only executing food that no one else in the city is doing, but also preparing the food he is happiest cooking and thus infusing Port Fonda with a singular pulse and infectiously high energy. He was nominated for a Food & Wine The People’s Best New Chef award in 2013.
What makes Kansas City a great place for creativity and innovation?
There are so many young people that are trying, trying new things and new ways to do things. When I was a young cook growing up here in Kansas City, I thought a person would have to leave the city to work at a “real” restaurant to become a better cook. I no longer think that’s the case. For the size of city we live in there is a very high number of talented chefs that own and operate their own businesses.
When and where are you happiest?
When I’m surrounded by the people I love.
What is your favorite place in Kansas City?
This year it’s been Arrowhead stadium.
Where's your favorite place outside of Kansas City?
What's your most treasured personal possession?
Our French bulldog puppy named Pizza.
Who's your favorite fictional hero?
El Chapulin, Colo.
Who do you most admire in real-life?
In “the business” I really admire people like Rick Bayless and Paul Kahan. They’ve managed to grow their restaurant groups successfully and responsibly without compromising their standards. They promote from within, they are active in their communities, and they are constantly coming up with creative ideas while paying attention to the details.