“Keep it simple, stupid.”
K.I.S.S. is a funny acronym many children learn in elementary school — a reminder to simplify fractions or check their essays for run on sentences. For professional chef and Cheshire native Geoffrey Ryan, the acronym reminds him of something very different.
“I was a sous chef working on specials for a country club menu,” Ryan recalls. “I had brought in a bunch of really complicated ideas and recipes I wanted to try out, and the head chef looked at me like I was crazy.”
That day, Ryan was advised that, when it comes to food, think about utilizing the tried and true K.I.S.S. method, and Ryan hasn’t looked back since.
“Everything immediately clicked,” Ryan said, with a smile.
In the space once occupied by The Watch Factory Restaurant, owned and operated by Austrian Chef Markus Patsch and located at 122 Elm St., will soon be Ryan’s very own K.I.S.S Cafe.
The Cafe, which Ryan says will offer “new wave american fare,” is the first of its kind to be opened in Cheshire, and Ryan understands he has big shoes to fill.
“Markus is an awesome guy,” Ryan stated, about The Watch Factory Restaurant owner. “He owned this place for over 20 years and hand-built all the woodwork and booths. I do want to keep the same vibe Markus had — I can’t just gut it all — but I am going to add my own identity to this place.”
Ryan doesn’t want to give away all of his new restaurant’s secrets just yet, but he is excited to bring something new to the Cheshire food scene. While the ideas of the dishes may be “simple” in nature, the preparation and attention to detail is what will set K.I.S.S. Cafe apart from the rest, he insists.
“I have a sort of old school cooking style,” explained Ryan. “My pomodoro sauce alone takes about three hours to make, even though it's a five ingredient recipe. I want to, for example, show you what a tomato can really taste like. I want to make the best food possible while creating as little waste as possible.”
Ryan is no stranger to the kitchen, having worked his way up in the food service industry from dishwasher at the old local Cheshire restaurant, Damons, which was known for its wide screen televisions and sports bar feel, to Executive Chef at what used to be Backstage Bistro in Torrington, CT. Growing up in Cheshire, food was an integral part of his family life.
“No matter what, everyone sat for dinner by 5 p.m.,” explained Ryan. “It was non-negotiable. I think my mom’s chicken parmesan was the first food dish I fell in love with.”
For Ryan, food means much more than just something you eat. “I love cooking,” he stated. “I communicate through my food. It’s the only way I know how.”
Eventually, Ryan “got bored” with cooking for other people and decided he should start looking for a place of his own.
“I wanted to be in Cheshire because it’s what I know,” he said. “When I sat in Markus’s restaurant I knew that we had to be here. That this was where I wanted to have my first restaurant.”
Ryan purchased the restaurant from Patsch this past August and has his sights set on opening soon.
“I hopefully plan on being up and running by the end of the month (October),” said Ryan. “But I want to take all the time I need to get it right. The things that still need to be done, need to be done well.”