Ryan O’Flynn Was Born to Grill

Edmonton chef goes from a local diner to a prestigious London kitchen.

Ryan O’Flynn has cooked saddle of lamb for the Queen, roast beef with Yorkshire pudding for Kylie Minogue and smoked salmon for members of U2. The 32-year-old Edmonton native worked in Ireland, Wales, France and is currently in England, where he’s executive chef at the prestigious Milestone Hotel.

“Working in London [means] working with the big boys. I have Alain Ducasse on my right; Gordon Ramsay on my left,” says O’Flynn.

Growing up in Mill Woods, O’Flynn knew he’d end up working in a kitchen since he was practically raised in one. His parents, Pamela and Maurice O’Flynn, ran a lunchtime canteen in Edmonton called Humpty’s Dump, where as a toddler he slept in the office “listening to the clatter of knives and forks, spoons and pans.” His epicurean flair was inspired by his dad, who managed Culinary Team Alberta in the ’80s and ’90s, and brought home the world championship title in 1992.

After high school, O’Flynn apprenticed at the Crowne Plaza Chateau Lacombe and the Westin, working with chefs Emmanuel David, now at La Persaud, and Ross Munro. O’Flynn later worked as a sous chef at Calgary’s Saltlik Steakhouse.

In 2002, he moved to Europe, following his dream to be an internationally trained chef. “We have a saying here in the kitchen that there’s no detail too small and no request too big, and we live by that,” says O’Flynn. Recently, he’d been scouring the streets for unusual fresh greens to serve to a guest who’s requested a different green vegetable every day over the last few months.

Twelve chefs work with O’Flynn, often coming in at 7 a.m., hanging up their aprons at midnight, and clocking about 90 hours each a week. They “do a dish right, or they do it twice,” he says, especially since Ramsay and other world-renowned chefs have flagship restaurants within walking distance of the hotel.

But Milestone’s doing just as well as the “big boys,” having earned its second AA rosette – an honour shared with the restaurants of Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal – meaning it’s in the top 10 percentile of restaurants in the United Kingdom.

O’Flynn had initially planned to do two years abroad before returning to Edmonton. “Now, I’m on my 10th year abroad and I have a hard time going back,” says O’Flynn. “It’s just turned into riding this wave of opportunity.”

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