The New Columbus Chefs – Lara Ranallo
This week, Columbus Underground is taking a look at some of the amazing young talent in the kitchens of your favorite local restaurants.
Lara Ranallo is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute and is currently managing the kitchen at the Surly Girl Saloon in the Short North. “Cooking is a great release for me, and I’m thrilled that I get a paycheck for doing what I love,” said Lara. “There is always something to learn and something new to see in this industry, and I love every minute of it.”
Name: Lara Ranallo
Training Experience: Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, Pittsburgh, PA. Graduated in October, 2006.
Kitchen Experience: “I worked at a Sheetz in high school where I spent a lot of time making MTO (Made To Order) Sandwiches. After high school, I took a job working at a local family owned Italian restaurant in Pittsburgh called Monte Cellos. I worked there for 2 years, cooking everything from pizzas and pastas to fish and filets. After culinary school I moved to Columbus to pursue a career with the Hyatt on Capitol Square. I worked there for 2 and a half years, training in fine dining service as well as banquets and other outlets. I had also picked up a part time job at Tip Top Kitchen and Cocktails where I got to have some fun making everything from scratch and playing with fresh herbs and tomatoes from our roof top garden.”
Current Job: Kitchen Manager at the Surly Girl Saloon
Favorite cuisine: “My favorite types of food generally fall under the Mediterranean region. I love the herbs used in these cuisines, especially Rosemary. I love pan seared items as well. I love how the flavor is locked in with a crusty outside and generally a moist inside. Give me some pan seared chicken or scallops over some Israeli couscous with some fresh herbs and I’m a happy girl!”
Favorite dish to make: “Hummus, because you can do so much with it. You can flavor it any way you want, and it can be different every time. Other than that, I make a great Chicken Romano with sautéed zucchini and orzo pasta. It’s a great plate to serve to company.”
Favorite food to eat: “Mac & Cheese, hands down the best comfort food around.”
Least favorite foods: “Ketchup and Peanut Butter. I won’t eat either of them, ever. In fact, I’m not very big on using condiments at all.”
Favorite kitchen utensil: “I have a ‘fun-sized’ chef’s knife that is 4 and a half inches, it’s great for my small hands and especially great for slicing and mincing small foods.”
Favorite cookbook: “Culinary Artistry. It is really great for learning flavor profiles. I am constantly reaching for it.”
Favorite Columbus restaurant: “Really a hard question to answer. I’ve had so many great dining experiences in Columbus. The two best experiences have probably been at Z Cucina and Rosendales. But if I want some good comfort food, you can find me at Tip Top Kitchen and Cocktails.”
Your Inspirational figures: “My friends and family. They are the ones who encouraged me to go to culinary school and they continue to support and challenge me every day, which is why I love what I do.”
Your Dream Job: “My dream job would be to own and run a small bar/restaurant with my brothers and a few close friends. My brother is in the process of trying to open a microbrewery, and I would love for us to work together on food and beer pairings.”