Interview with Chef Ryan Nelson of Late Harvest Kitchen & The North End BBQ

Meet Chef Ryan Nelson, Owner / Executive Chef of Late Harvest Kitchen and The North End BBQ & Moonshine in Indianapolis. Chef Nelson pays homage to fresh, locally-sourced ingredients by showcasing them throughout the menus at both of his restaurants. Learn more about this highly talented chef in our recent Q&A!

Q: How many years have you been cooking as a professional chef?

A: I have been cooking professionally since 1995. 24 years

Q: How did you originally get interested in cooking as a profession?

A: I cooked in restaurants while going to college for spending money. I fell in love with the industry and stayed with it and had a career that I loved after graduation.

Q: What are 5 ingredients that can always be found in your kitchen at home?

A: Pasta, high end canned tuna and sardines, a bunch of different cheeses, fresh herbs.

Q: When you go out to eat, what are some of your favorite restaurants to visit around the Greater Indianapolis area?

A: I have two young children, so we typically frequent family friendly restaurants. Some of our favorites are 20 Tap, Napolese, and Puccinis.

Q: You use a variety of locally sourced ingredients in several of your dishes. What is a common misconception with Farm-to-Table cooking that you’d like to change?

A: I feel that many people think locally sourced ingredients are too expensive. More often than not the ingredients are priced competitively and any additional costs are offset by the increase in quality and flavor of the locally sourced food.

Q: Would you be willing to share some of the names of the farms that you currently source ingredients from and why you find it important to source local ingredients?

A: Food tastes better the closer it is consumed to where it is grown. Fischer Farms, Viking Farms, Full Hand Farms, Garwood Farms, Silverthorn Farms, Ross Harding and we have a few foragers as well.

Q: What advice do you have for the average home cook?

A: Season as you go. Every element of a dish needs to be seasoned. Prepare all the items ahead of time before you start cooking. Have fun!

Q: Who do you look up to for culinary inspiration and why?

A: I find Jose Andres incredibly inspirational. Not just his food and success as a restaurateur, but his philanthropy and humanitarian work. 

Q: When you have the day off, what do you enjoy making for breakfast?

A: Sunday is my only day off. My wife makes a big brunch for us. When I make dinner on Sundays, it’s usually kid-friendly like homemade pizza and pastas. My kids love to make pizzas and fresh pastas. 

Q: What is a food trend or ingredient that you predict will grow in popularity over the next few years?

A: Eating healthy continues to grow in popularity. We’ve added several healthier options at Late Harvest Kitchen over the last few years.

Q: What is one of your favorite cookbooks that you have in your collection that you find useful, inspiring, or insightful? 

A: I have a very large collection of cookbooks. Some of my favorites are the Joe Beef cookbooks, Culinary Artistry / The Flavor Bible, James Beard’s books and Jacque Pepin’s books.

Q: What’s one ingredient that people should be using more of in their kitchens and why?

A: Fresh squeezed lemon juice. You don’t need very much, but a little squeeze of lemon adds acidity and brightens/enhances all the flavors of a dish.

Q: Would you be willing to share a simple recipe for our readers to try to make at home?

A: Our shaved Brussels sprout salad is one of most popular dishes. I can’t take it off the menu.

Chef Ryan Nelson has shared his famed Brussels Sprout Salad recipe with us so you can make it at home.

P.S. – If you visit Late Harvest Kitchen and mention that you read this interview, Ryan may have a tasty treat for you to enjoy for free!