Executive Chef Ryan Orr was born and raised in Victoria on the southern end of Vancouver Island. Growing up, Ryan spent his summers on the local beaches with his friends, wading into the lagoons picking up Dungeness Crabs with fishing nets. Ryan has fond memories of his grandfather coming by the house before the sun came up to take him out fishing, always coming home “a little green around the gills” and with stories of the “big one” that got away. Vancouver Island is, and always will be home for Ryan.
After graduation, Ryan was overcome with the urge to travel so he ventured off a little closer to come to the resort town of Banff, Alberta. With previous experience in restaurants as a server, he set out looking for a serving job. On his first day of job hunting he was offered a job, as a cook and that marked the end of his serving days. Subsequently, Ryan formally studied culinary arts back on Vancouver Island and then completed his apprenticeship. This would mark the start of his “real learning”. In this, Chef says that “you can’t replace the real world of cooking with in-class study. As important as that is, you have to finish your schooling and get out in the thick of it, start at the bottom and grind yourself through the process. That is where all your training comes into play, and you learn how to take that knowledge and apply it in a high pressure, intense atmosphere. Get cut, burn yourself and make mistakes. This is when you find out what you are made of, and who you will be in the kitchen”.
Ryan’s career and love of travel have since taken him far and wide, from a tall ship sailing the coasts of Europe, Africa and South America to the city of Toronto. Cutting his teeth and plying his trade in unique and far off kitchens has always given Chef a great sense of what is possible with the never ending array of food products available. His mix of artistic flexibility and inquisitive determination are an appealing combination for creating something new each day.
Once the call of the coast lured him back to Vancouver Island, Chef embraced the wealth of local ingredients available. The island farmers and purveyors are world class and sourcing out new local products has become a true passion for Ryan. From the wide variety of produce and meats, to seafood and cheeses, eating locally is at the heart of every Clayoquot menu, and respect to those products is always at the forefront of Chef’s mind.
With this in mind, the Resort has taken a huge step forward with our own garden and greenhouses. Together with Blair, (The Resort Gardener) Chef plans each season’s bounty during the off season and the growing begins while the Resort is closed each winter. Chef can now highlight something from our own gardens on every night’s menu. Salad greens, Heirloom tomatoes, baby beets, fresh beans and honey from our own hives, are just a fraction of the products that we are growing each season.
Treating these Resort grown and local products with a blend of traditional and modern techniques, Chef builds on his philosophy of honest, clean food that showcases Mother Nature’s hand, all the while respecting the hard work and dedication of our farmers. Letting the essence of each organic green, free run egg or locally raised meat come through on the palate, this is what marks Chef Ryan Orr’s cuisine.