NAME: Ryan Nielsen
CULINARY SCHOOL AFFILIATION: Western Culinary Institute, Portland, OR
Chef Ryan Nielsen grew up learning how to cook from both of his Grandmothers, but it was his Grandfather, a cook in the Army, whose footsteps he ended up following even though he never intended to do so. Chef Nielsen served in the Marine Corps from 1994 to 1998, and it was while he was completing the first stages of becoming a Marine in Basic Training that his culinary path was chosen, starting as a Food Service Specialist.
While studying at the Marine Corps Food Service Training Schoolhouse, Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt) Juan Delvalle, who is a pastry chef, was the first chef to inspire Ryan. However, it was Staff Sergeant (Ssgt) Maximo Fresquez who was the one that completed the process by getting Ryan to truly love the joy of cooking when he arrived at his first duty station.
Now married with two daughters, Chef Nielsen’s culinary career has come full circle as a culinary instructor at the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence at Fort Lee, VA, where he teaches new recruits the skills and knowledge of food production, while hoping to instill his passion and love of food and cooking to his students!