It is no small feat running three restaurants in New York, but chef Ryan Hardy makes it seem easy. Co-owner and chef of the venerable SoHo haunt Charlie Bird, along with the Hudson Yard’s Legacy Records and Pasquale Jones in NoLita, Hardy has a lot on his plate. We were able to catch up with Hardy on a whirlwind day to see how he gets it all done — and the essential gear (and playlists) that help him take on every day.
Q: What drew you to the restaurant business? Did you always want to be a chef?
Ryan Hardy (RH): I got started in the restaurant business when I was a teenager. And I liked it. I liked the brotherhood of the kitchen, and I felt comfortable there. It was something that I stuck with. As I moved out west — I went to enroll in graduate school — I kept cooking on the side. After a while of living in Washington state, I decided I really wanted the culture of a city, and so I moved to San Francisco. That’s when I decided I was going to take up cooking full time. When you get into the culture of fine dining, particularly in a city like San Francisco, it’s addictive. You’re immediately sucked in. And so from there — that was in the late ’90s — 20 years later, here I am in New York City.
Q: With three restaurants in New York, you’re probably pretty busy most days of the week. How do you start your day to stay on track and centered?
RH: I think when you have a stressful schedule, you have to find moments of clarity and peace inside the busy days. So for my wife and me, that little hour we get in the morning is very precious. For my children, my wife and myself, to just find a connecting moment together. By putting in a really great espresso machine, like the Slayer we have, it allowed us to take that moment seriously. Not just have a pot of coffee on the stove, but something that we could really stop and craft and make an artisanal moment out of, and then reflect with each other. It sounds kind of overblown, but it’s really important to us.