Winner of the 2009 James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest, Chef Tim McKee is one of the most recognized and respected chefs throughout the Upper Midwest. In addition to the praise he’s garnered for Sea Change, he has earned critical acclaim for his Minnesota restaurants, most notably La Belle Vie. His talents have reaped well-earned praise from a wide range of regional and national food critics as well as his peers. His food style features intense flavors that are "balanced and presented in measured portions that compel the diner to savor each taste in turn."
Chef de Cuisine
Ryan Cook, chef de cuisine, grew up in Fargo, ND and moved to Minneapolis after high school to obtain a music degree from McNally Smith (now Music Tech.) While he was in school he worked for a fast food chain, and later in a bakery. Like many newcomers to the industry he started out washing dishes, then went to pantry, then pizza. It wasn’t until he got a job in a nicer, more upscale restaurant that he realized his talent and fascination with cooking was starting to overshadow his passion for music.
Chef Ryan spent 8 summer seasons on the capes of Kodiak, Alaska as a commercial fisherman purse-seining salmon or toiling in a cannery. He laughs that he would make more in three months in Alaska than he would the rest of the year working in restaurants. But money was not his primary motivator for this annual trek to the frigid waters of Alaska; he reveled in the exuberant camaraderie on the boats and the immediacy of harvesting fresh, sustainable seafood destined for the finest restaurants in the country. Living on the boat after a 20 hour day, he and his mates would sometimes catch a halibut and butcher it and enjoy it for dinner. He literally lived and breathed seafood for three months every year, unknowingly building an intuitive understanding of fish that would serve him well in his eventual rise to helm the kitchen at Sea Change.
Back on land, Chef Ryan worked in some of the best known kitchens in the twin cities, including Filio, Joe’s Garage, the Corner Table, Doug Flicker’s Mission American Kitchen, and Tim McKee’s Barrio. Throughout this period of growth and development, he began to realize that all positions in a restaurant are equally important and interconnected. Dishwashers, servers, line cooks, hostesses, expediters and even customers are all moving parts in a complex organism, deeply connected and reliant on each other. His perception is that the art of fine cuisine is similar to the art of making music, where individual craftsmen hone their skills to contribute their best efforts toward a beautifully orchestrated end result.