Yesterday, we started a conversation with Chef Ryan Pera of the Grove. As promised, today we finish it up, even asking him about a pesky rumor we'd heard and shamelessly questioning him about his personal life.
Eating Our Words: We have heard a little rumor about the burger recipe at the Grove being the same as the one at Café Express. Care to set the record straight?
Ryan Pera: The Grove's burger was hand written by me, so that is absurd. Robert Del Grande does own both restaurants, but the similarities end there. I have complete control of my kitchen and can assure you that the burger is totally different. We butcher our own meat here, so in turn the burgers use fresh house-ground beef only found here. The poblano pepper and avocado accentuate the provolone cheese we use on the burger. Come give it a try for yourself.
EOW: We have. It's good. Well, since that's cleared up, how about a look into your personal life?
RP: I love going to the movies or reading books, but my true hobby is home brewing beer. Every year I make a Christmas Ale that I give out to friends and family. This year my ale is made with ginger, orange peel, cinnamon and mace. Mace is the hull of a clove and offers less pungent flavors while keeping a strong character.
EOW: What is the biggest challenge of running such a multifaceted restaurant?
RP: Well, for instance tonight we have a 24-top, 60-top and 80-top private dinners alongside a la carte service for the night. My job is to make sure food prep is handled accordingly - big-time logistics there. I couldn't handle this many guests without the help of my excellent staff. I love them.
EOW: How has your kitchen help matured with you over the years?
RP: It has been a long road of attrition, and it was bumpy my first year. My staff really bonded with me starting two years ago and I am happy to have a tight kitchen made up of complimenting styles and personalities. My newest employee has been with me for nine months. That is a great feeling.