Laura Hayes

Chef Ryan Ratino is Ripple’s new executive chef. The 26-year-old is taking over for Marjorie Meek-Bradley, who announced last week that she was leaving both Ripple and Roofers Union to focus on her pastrami shop Smoked & Stacked. Ratino will debut a new dinner menu at the Cleveland Park restaurant on Jan. 2.

“I don’t want to say it’s my first big break, but for D.C. it’s a lot better than I was doing,” Ratino says. Most recently, the chef was spinning his wheels at Masa 14, where he was experimenting with cooking with dairy cow meat, among other culinary feats at the restaurant’s chef’s counter.

Ratino’s New York-heavy resume includes stops at Michelin-starred Caviar Russe, WD-50, and Dovetail NYC,though his career began in Florida where he worked at Shula’s Steak House, at the Four-Diamond AAA award-winning Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. That’s also where he served as the executive chef of Todd English at Bluezoo. Locally, he’s also worked at minibar by José Andrés and Virginia’s L’Auberge Provencale.

With Ripple, Ratino says he was attracted to owner Roger Marmet‘s open mind. “In the hiring process, he was asking what the vision was,” Ratino explains. “I had to present him with an idea board. He really liked it, so he gave me freedom to do whatever I want. That was a big thing for me. It’s an opportunity to be in the driver’s seat.”

Ratino describes his cuisine as seasonal American with European roots and plans to maintain the relationships Meek-Bradley built with area farmers. “We’re keeping the core values of the restaurant,” he says.

One thing Ratino hopes to introduce at Ripple is an affordable tasting menu that would accompany the a la carte offerings, thus providing diners with options. He’s still deciding whether it will be three, four, or five courses and hopes to keep the price around $60 or less.

Ratino says he’s shooting for a Michelin star in the first year. “Michelin is something I’ve set my career on. It’s always been my aspiration,” he says. “It’s something I really want to achieve. We’re going for it.” 

Ripple, 3417 Connecticut Ave. NW; (202) 244-7995; rippledc.com