About RYAN HUTMACHER
Culinary Experientialist, Award Winning Chef & Entrepreneur, Plant-Based R&D Consultant, Media Dude, Wellness Trainer & Coach, Former First-Ever Weight Watchers Chef and TED Talker.
I create experiences using food as a vehicle to help people connect, gain perspective and move forward confidently.
Food Media Dude
A commitment to my craft has brought about humbling opportunities to share and teach on some of the biggest stages.
Thought Leader & Speaker
My passions & the pitfalls I’ve experienced while in pursuit of living Well Beyond Food are relatable and serve as powerful lessons in all of our life’s journeys.
Trainer & Programming Architect
Facilitating team builds, retreats and educational programs, along with creating content and designing intimate cooking experiences are how I share perspective and influence others’ best.
The Story of My work as a wellness chef & beyond
Although my chef jacket defined most of my work up until now, I’ve been evolving, hence my vision for The Well Beyond Food Project. My once self-proclaimed “clean, simple, and sexy” cooking style leans towards rustic cooking methods and plating styles. I prefer fewer ingredients with fresh elements that harmonize texture and convenience. So, “what you see is what you get” with my current “clean comfort” vibe now.
My work as a corporate consultant and trainer under my brand Centered Chef also continues. It’s where I create wellness programs that empower organization’s employees and hospital patients to cook and eat “better for you, convenient foods”.
My food philosophies and 15 years of culinary experience have opened doors for me to consult and train within a diverse range of industries, where I connect brands and people, improving relationships among their employees and customers, with food. I’ve done this as chef spokesperson for multiple Fortune 500 companies and most recently, for plant-based protein startups.
“Wellness” has always been part of my personal brand as a chef. My own personal story began almost 20 years ago. After lengthy personal struggles both mentally and physically, I needed to reinvent my career and lifestyle. I was 50 pounds heavier at that time. My doctor wanted to prescribe antidepressants, blood pressure, and cholesterol medications. This was compounded with the fact I was deemed a pre-Type 2 diabetic and had asthma but still smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, something had to change.
I was lost and needed a paradigm shift, so I started with my physical health, first. Motivated by my brother, I signed up for my first mini triathlon and started a journey that motivated me to take my life back. It was also the catalyst for a career change. It was a huge risk, but I enrolled in culinary school at Kendall College and soon after, moved to France. I was alive and thriving again! I apprenticed Chef Jean-Jacques Galliffet at his restaurants La Cerisaie, Auberge de la Valloire, and Le Moulin. It was this cooking experience, utilizing natural, regional ingredients, where I began to mold my understanding of pure food and its implications on my own sustained health.
With my new knowledge, focus, and passion, I underwent a physical and mental transformation. From there I created a formula for eating, socializing and exercising that lead to my current path as an entreprenuer.
I then went on to create a business called Centered Chef Culinary Studio, from which my team and I not only prepared nourishing, pre-packaged foods that fueled people, but eventually evolved the business into a concept where we would “teach people to fish”. It was an innovative concept that blended a boutique venue space, cooking school and commercial catering kitchen all into one in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. Because of its unique design, it actually became one of Chicago’s most popular wedding and event spaces for intimate weddings.
Over the years, I’d become a regular fixture at local news outlets in Chicago promoting my company’s services. The exposure of my talents and comfort of my personality being on camera led the way to many opportunities to consult with CPG’s and food manufacturers, where I gained an understanding of both content creation and culinary R&D.
This proved to be very helpful as I ended up being cast onto a cooking show in 2014. After a 6-week competition and filming four episodes in NYC, I prevailed as the winner of “The CHEW’s Search for the Weight Watchers Chef” competition. Aside from the prize money, I went on to serve as the First-Ever Weight Watchers Chef and national spokesperson for the next five years.
As things aren’t always what they appear to be, many lessons were learned during the span of time between when I won the cooking competition, while working at capacity with my business in Chicago. Nothing would prepare me for the illusion of the limelight and simultaneous burnout that would eventually cause me to close my culinary studio.
Part of my story is the tenaciously humble rise as a shamefully unhealthy career-changer, to becoming an unlikely, award-winning chef and wellness spokesperson for the world’s most successful weight-loss company. The real story, however, lays beneath my quiet, yet traumatic, fall from grace which occurred as a result of the burnout. The hiding, searching and healing took almost six years and serve as the motivation for The Well Beyond Food Project.
Now that I’m finally clear about my purpose and who I am authentically, my vision for The Well Beyond Food Project is to explore Wellness beyond eating habits.
Beyond the number on our scale, obsessing over wash-board abs or wanting to stop the aging process, something bigger determines our worth and sense purpose. It determines how we think, feel and act and I believe it serves as the epicenter for personal wellness.
Our human compassion binds us to one-another – not in pity or patronizingly – but as human beings who have learned to turn our common suffering into hope for the future. – Nelson Mandela
This not-so-secret tool is simply human connection. Outside of the impossibility that a “one size fits all” approach to personal wellness actually exists, I’m determined to explore human connection by creating experiences that connect, offer perspective and inspire change. Food is simply the vehicle that I use to create those experiences, and whether you realize it or not, you are nourishing your “self” and others as a result of participating and being present.