Black Bottom Sundea

If you try one dessert at Little Market this has to be it.

It’s a warm brownie with two brandied cherries, soft serve ice cream, salted caramel, candied peanuts & two more brandy cherries on the top.

I didn’t find inspiration for this creation while traveling and trying restaurants, and it’s not a play on a childhood favorite- I actually have no idea how I came up with this dish. But I love it. It’s one of my favorite desserts, and the simplicity probably has a lot to do with it.

we started with the ice cream, who dosent love soft serve, Grace added the peanuts and caramel, but the kicker is the cheries, makes it kind of an adult sundea!

Salty, sweet, warm, crunchy, liquor- it appeals to every sense of taste. (Ok so I added the liquor part)

And as I sat enjoying one of these bad boys post friends and family service….I realized that most of Little Market’s menu has this same theme- be simple and be awesome


Image  —  Posted: December 31, 2012 in Food, Lifestyle, Personal, Restaurant Reviews, Uncategorized

I dont want you to like this post on FB, I don’t want you to respond, i dont want you to tweet or retweet – I just want you to think.

Yesterday on my walk to work I saw a homeless man eating out of a garbage can, and at first it didn’t really register.
I’ve almost become immune to all the homeless people begging around Chicago. But this man was different, he was minding his own business, not asking for anything. Just looking for food.

My second reaction was reaching in my pocket and pulling out all the money I had on my at the time -only six dollars- because I don’t really carry cash on me. I walked over and said; “Excuse me sir, please take this and get something to eat.”
That was it.

He said thank you twice and I put my head phones back on and walked to work like I do every morning, trying not to have contact with anyone and oblivious to things around me.That’s my way of telling people I don’t want to be bothered, or I don’t have change or don’t have time for your long story about hard times. I ignore the world by listening to my music. I am sure I am not alone, and I’m not saying its a bad thing. We all get into our zones and want to get from point A to B as fast and efficiently as possible. I went on with the daily rat race of life, doing what I do every day at work. But today was different, today I could not stop thinking about the homeless man eating out of the garbage can. Was six dollars enough? How much food can someone buy with 6 dollars? Someone was so hungry, that their hunger forces them to eat out of the garbage? I am sure this was not the first time I have seen a homeless person, or the first time i have seen someone digging through the garbage, but something was different. Maybe it was my view of life changing, or the fact I am getting older, or maybe this day on my walk, i just stopped and looked around. I don’t know?

We all use the terms; “I’m starving” or I’m so hungry I can eat anything “. But today I saw those phrases come to life. I saw a man so hungry he was eating anything, so starving his animal instinct came out and he was just looking for food.

I can’t stop thinking of him and how I could have helped more.  He was not begging for money or bothering people for change, not trying to run a scam. He was just hungry…maybe I should have walked him over to the restaurant and got him a hot meal and maybe something for him to take with him for later? Why didn’t I?

I take a lot for granted, I have a great family, a good job, and friends I lean on for help and advice. We all do, and I don’t want to get all preachy or make you think I am patting myself on the back for helping a homeless man, thats not my intent. I just don’t think I helped enough, I could have done so much more.

Here is a safe, easy and delicious side dish for all you who are procrastinators (like me) during the holidays.

Don’t be daunted by the ingredients- it’s actually pretty simple to make.

Chef Ryan’s Veggie Cheesy Gratin

 1 cup diced celery root
1/2 cup diced parsley root
1 cup diced parsnips
1 cup diced Yukon potato
1 cup cooked and shelled chestnuts
1 cup diced honey crips apples
1 cup diced butternut squash

Par cook all vegetables in a large pot of salted water separately

 They should be al dente. The potatoes will take longer to cook and the
squash will cook fast. This is the hardest part if the recipe. After the vegetables are cooked is smooth sailing.

Keep warm until needed.

 The cheese sauce:

4 TBSP Flour
5TBSP Butter
4 Cups Milk
2 cups clothbound Chedder Cheese or any strong chedder cheese
Salt fresh cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Melt the butter when hot and bubbly add the flour and make a roux.
Cook the flour butter mixture until is if fully incorporated and
starts to brown. Slowly whisk in the the milk, trying not to make an lumps.

Cook at med heat, stir constantly until thick. Add cheese and bring
back to a boil.  Season with slat and pepper to taste and add nutmeg.

Reserve until needed.

2 1/2 TBSP chopped fresh sage
1 TBSP rosemary chopped
2 TBSP chopped thyme
1 cup Chestnuts diced
1 cup or more Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup diced bacon rendered (optional)

In a large mixing bowl mix all the root vegetable together. Add 3 cups
of the cheese sauce the herbs , nuts and bacon.  Mix well and season with salt and black pepper. Add more sauce if you want it to be creamier.

 Place mixture into a casserole pan and sprinkle bread crumbs over the
top in a even layer.  Place in a broiler on med heat and let brown.

By this time it can be served if its hot. If its not – place in
a 350 oven for 20 min until bubbly and hot in the center.


Boston Little Market

Posted: November 8, 2012 in Drinks, Food, Travel

With less than a month until Little Market opens, the little hamster is running faster than usual in my head.  I have so many ideas and finishing touches to add to the already successful dishes that Chris and I have worked on.

I see Little Market as a neighborhood spot where people can stop in after a long day of running errands or work and feel right at home.  Most of the menu will be classic dishes that everyone has tried, so it’s very important to me that our food exceeds expectation.

One of the menu items is a classic lobster roll, and while we’ve tried several in Chicago…we also felt a quick trip to Boston was necessary.

Alfredo and I went and packed in as many local favorites  as we possibly could in a day and a half.





easy way out recipe

Posted: November 6, 2012 in Food, Recipes

Without fail, this is the time of year when I get a ton of texts and calls from people asking for easy recipes to bring to holiday dinners and parties.

I thought I’d share with one with you guys that has worked for me for years- my Butternut Squash Soup.

This recipe has been tweaked and I’ve added and changed the flavor profiles many times so feel free to make it your own. For example- I’ve recently added popcorn to the pumpkin seeds to give it added texture.

And I know a lot of you may think soup is intimidating, but I promise it’s not. If you have trouble I’ll even come help you.

Ok- the last part may be a bit of a lie…but trust me I’d just get in the way anyhow!

Chef Ryan’s Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Popcorn 

Serves: six         

Prep time: 45 minutes 


 3 tbsp  butter  

1           onion, sliced 

2           garlic cloves, chopped 

2 c        water 

3           butternut squash peeled, large dice 

1/2 c       heavy cream 

¾ c       organic local honey 

2 tbsp  chipotles, pureed  

How to make it:

 –    Melt butter in a medium saucepan, add onion and garlic and sweat until tender 

with no color. 

–    Add water and diced squash and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a 

simmer and let cook 20 minutes until squash is tender. 

–    Puree soup until smooth; add cream, honey, and chipotle puree and bring back 

to a simmer.  

Serve it Up: season with salt and garnish with popcorn-spicy pumpkin seeds. 


1 c        oil 

1/2 c       pumpkin seeds 

1 c        popped popcorn  

1 tbsp  sweet smoked paprika 

1 tsp    cayenne pepper 


pinch sugar 


How to make the toppings:

 –    In a large pot add oil and heat to 350 degrees. While heating, mix paprika, 

pepper, a pinch of salt and sugar together. 

–    Using a basket or strainer, carefully lower the seeds into the oil until they are golden brown, approximately one minute.

–    Remove from fryer and place seeds in a bowl lined with paper towel. Remove paper towel while the seeds are still hot and sprinkle with the paprika-pepper mix.


Little Market Brasserie

Posted: October 30, 2012 in Drinks, Food, Restaurant Reviews

The beauty of social media is that it can make you look really cool. In fact, it can create just about any illusion you’d like it to.

I’m a perfect example. The past few months I’ve posted status updates and photos from Austin, NYC, New Orleans and Miami… and while it looked like I was vacationing like a champion- in reality I’ve been traveling with my business partners researching concepts for Little Market.

We’ve been tweaking the concept well before it opened as PT Pop Up, and I’ve been dying to talk about how excited I am to get back to working with American classic dishes. But one of the good things about getting older is I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut and wait to present ideas until the concept comes to life.

Well my friends, the *shit* as they say, is together. I’ve been testing and tweaking dishes for months and I’m really excited to share them.

If you were one of my loyal regulars at Butter or Perennial, then I think you’ll appreciate the dishes you’ll find at Little Market.  But I like to think of the Little Market’s concept as;  a super hot girl dressed down with no makeup on, in sweat pants. The girl’s the same- she’s just not as daunting to approach.

I hope you’ll all swing thru when we open in early winter…until then I’ll be in the test kitchen making sure every bite is delicious.

Finding Balance on the Road

Posted: October 30, 2012 in Food, Personal, Travel

I’m so stuffed from lunch, and I’m in line…to eat again. You’ve gotta love Texas!

Alfredo (my business partner) and I are on a tour de force across America doing research and getting inspired for new concepts for the Mercadito Hospitality group.

Currently we’re eating our way thru Austin, TX and the food scene is booming. We have been to everything from food trucks to BBQ to cocktail bars to taco stands.

But trust me- it looks a lot more fun on Instagram than it really is- especially if you’re trying to stay in shape. We hit at lease 2-3 places for lunch and 3-4 for dinner and always a midnight snack. You can imagine that calories catch up with you fast.

So about a year ago I made a valiant effort to start losing weight and trying to stay healthy. But being a chef I want to taste everything!  Once I asked Steve Dolinsiky how he manages to eat out all the time and stay so fit. His response? Portion control- only taking a bite or two of each dish and moving on.

That may work for him, but if something tastes good I will eat the whole plate. So to combat the eating sprees I decided to hire personal trainer, Chris Grayson of USI in Lincoln square. I work out with him twice a week and do Bikram as often as I can, sprinkled with a Brazilian jiu jitsu training.

In between food research trips I rely on quinoa to keep me full, I make a huge batch and eat small portions during the day. I was turned onto quinoa at Protein Bar and I swear by it.

But just when I think I’ve found a balance that works for me…we hit the road and stumble upon a place like Gourdoughs, the doughnut food truck.  To quote Homer Simpson: “Mmmmmm doughnuts”.

Sorry Chris…it’s my job…I promise to work it off next week man.

Taste of Nations

Posted: October 30, 2012 in Events, Food, Personal
Originally posted in August 2012
Taste Of The Nations

I get tapped to do charity events all the time, I wish I could say yes to all of them but we all know that’s not possible. And while I try not to play favorites, I have to admit that there are a few I can’t say “no” to…one of them being Taste of The Nation.

They bring out rockstar Chefs, Mixologists and energy like no other.  Leaving the restaurant during a busy service is always hard, but when I get to hang out with all my friends for a good cause like- stopping child hunger then it’s a bonus.

I usually like to bring a crowd pleaser and something vegetarian so last night we rolled with Escalivada tapas.

The event was packed and I had to hustle to keep our table filled. My friend Christian was back in town from New York so he graciously pitched in.
Even Pintxo came out from behind the bar at Barcio to say hello to all his adoring fans and snag some besos from the ladies.
Cooking, raising money for charity and hanging with my friends is pretty much a perfect night


Originally Posted in August 2012

El Quim de la Boqueria (market)

Boqueria Market:

Get the cuttlefish with the fried egg. It’s a little place so you have to stand and wait for a table, but it goes fast worth it!

Also in the Boqueria Market check out Pinotxo Bar and Kiosko Universal

Bar Canete

Carrer de la Unio 17 #930 029 425

This is a fun spot for tapas off Las Rambles.

Tapac C24

Diputacio, 269 #934-880-977


Everything is amazing, but I really loved the MC foie burger and potatoes with egg and chorizo.

Lolita Taperia

Tamarit, 104 # 924315231

This used to be Albert Adria’s tapas bar- and it’s still very good but it’s always packed.


Avenida del Paralel’ in Barceona where the 41º22’34” parallel north line passes through.

Very difficult to get a reservation, but a must see if your traveling to BCN!

It is the latest restaurant from Albert Adria, so you know its going to be something special.

Three People and Music

Corsega 231-233 #677887565

This is my friend Mateo’s restaurant- we cooked together in Spain. His patatas bravas put anyone else’s to shame and his tuna tartar is off the charts. Total hidden gem.

Moo Restaurant in the Hotel Omm

Rosselló 265 # 93 445 40 00

This is an extension of the Roca Brothers, whom I worked for at their 3 star restaurant in Girnoa.It’s really awesome food and gives a insight into their creativity.


Industria, 79 #93 207 61 15

I used to work here with Chef Jordi. This is a pricey 1 Michelin Star spot- but it’s well worth it. Make a reso.

Dining in Madrid

Posted: October 30, 2012 in Drinks, Food, Personal, Restaurant Reviews, Travel

Originally posted in July 2012

Everyone always asks me to recommend restaurants in Spain for their trips. I finally decided to put a list of my favorites and some cant miss spots! Here is Madrid, Enjoy!



C/ Pelayo, Madrid 915 226 413
good tapas nothing fancy or crazy

Good for a quick lunch or a beer and some bites

Le Cabrera 

C/ Bárbara de Braganza, 2 Madrid 913 199 457
awesome cocktail bar with great tapas,

cool scene make a reservation

Estado Puro 

Plaza de Canovas del Castillo, 4, Madrid913 302 400

(its in the NH Hotel in the Paseo del Prado)

Chef Paco Roncero’s new tapas restaurant. sit out side if you can, he is a El Bulli guy so some
tapas are creative and some traditional.

try the patatas bravas here! and cod fritters. make a reservation

Orio Restaurant

C/ Fuencarral, 49 Madrid902 520 522
good place for lunch, tapas are ready on the bar,

help your self, ask server for plates

Fuencarral Street

great for shopping, cool stores, funky boutiques! The street then spills
on to Gran Via and then over to Sol (the center of Madrid) in Sol watch for pick pockets
i have never had a problem but just be aware

La Latina Neighborhood 
The Best Of Madrid
The whole idea in this neighborhood is to bounce around
go from place to place, have a few bites and on to the next one
here are some cant miss spots!

Casa Lucio

C/ CAVA BAJA, 35 Madrid, Spain 913 653 252
One of the most famous restaurants in Madrid. MUST MAKE A RESO!!
try the potatoes with the fried egg, everything is good here

Casa Lucas

C/ Cava Baja 30, 28005Madrid, 91365 0804
Tapas bar, good wines great food
Best Foie Gras mousse i have ever had, also try the chicken with corn mousse tapas

San Miguel Market

Plaza San Miguel 1 Madrid, 915 427 364
Huge market, great stalls to eat at, just walk around and eat
opens at 530am and closes at 8pm

Fine Dining Restaurants

Sergi Arola Gastro

C/ Zurbano, 3 Madrid,913 102 169
$$$$ but very good, I worked for Sergi for a year when he was at La Broche.
May be a lunch spot , check out the web site must make a reso

La Broche

C/ MIGUEL ÁNGEL, 29-31Madrid,913 993 437
Tasting menu restaurant, $$$$ I used to work here! the chef is a great guy
he lived in the states and speaks english.

Barcelona & San Sebastian coming soon!