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Autumnal Equinox Dinner Partner Profile: Chef Ryan Johnston0

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Ryan Johnston, Executive Chef and Partner of Whisknladle and Prepkitchen, brings his unique cooking style and distinctive philosophy to San Diegans with an honest back to basics approach to dining.

At Whisknladle, Johnston’s menu highlights fresh local produce and ingredients made from scratch to deliver Gourmet Comfort Food infused with Mediterranean influences. Johnston takes satisfaction in creating the constantly evolving seasonal menu and cascades his attention into ensuring all of the ingredients are made in-house from baking bread, curing and aging meats, to churning ice cream and making pasta. Johnston desires that his food enhance the pleasures of dining with friends and family.

In May 2009, Johnston and his business partner Arturo Kassel, opened their second business venture Prepkitchen, a gourmet take-out or dine-in eatery serving quick-bites, complete lunches and fully balanced dinners in downtown La Jolla, Calif. The second Prepkitchen location in Del Mar opened in June 2010 and a third opened in 2012 in Little Italy. Prepkitchen was inspired by all of the prep work that goes into making food from scratch, and follows in the footsteps of Whisknladle by serving the same quality-driven, seasonally-minded and inspired handcrafted cuisine, but in a quick-service take-out concept to be enjoyed in the comfort of your office or home.

Born in South Florida, Ryan Johnston, has been exposed to the world of food since childhood. The son of a butcher, Johnston has always had a passion for fresh ingredients and a flair for finding the finest selections. After being diagnosed with diabetes, Johnston’s commitment to working exclusively with quality, organic produce that he hand picks from local growers became a trademark and focus of his kitchen.

Johnston’s culinary talent is a culmination of more than 10 years of experience and training at some of the finest restaurants in the country. A 1995 graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, Johnston fast tracked his career at two trend-setting restaurants, Café Chardonnay and Darrel & Oliver’s Café Maxx in Florida. In 1998, Johnston moved to Northern California and stepped into the kitchen of famed chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller at the prestigious Bouchon Restaurant in Yountville, Calif., where he honed his culinary skills. While at Bouchon, the restaurant was among Gourmet magazine’s list of “Top Tables in America 1999.”

Johnston has opened and established menus for a repertoire of restaurants, including Loretta Keller’s Bizou in San Francisco, Tonno Rosso for the Real Restaurant Group and Blackhorse Grille in Del Mar, Calif., for Sami Ladeki. In 2006, Arturo Kassel asked Johnston to oversee the menu development and back-of-the-house operations for Fresh[er] Restaurant in La Jolla, Calif. Johnston and Kassel are currently partners in Whisknladle and Prepkitchen located in La Jolla, Little Italy and Del Mar, Calif. with plans to open their newest concept, Catania, also in La Jolla in early 2015.

Join us for our Fourth Annual Autumnal Equinox Dinner and experience the culinary talents of Chef Ryan and his culinary team at Whisknladle and PrepKitchen. Purchase tickets here.


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