One of Houston’s most talked about chefs, Ryan Lachaine was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His culinary education began at the apron strings of his Ukrainian mother and grandmother as they churned out pierogies, cabbage rolls and other treasured family recipes. However, Lachaine did not set out to become a cook; he initially moved to Houston to enroll in the University of Houston’s business program. After only a few semesters, he felt a pull toward his first love—cooking—and left business school to enroll in The Art Institute of Houston. Following the completion of his culinary arts degree, he jumped head first into Houston’s trailblazing food scene at Gravitas under Chef Jason Gould before working under Chef Bryan Caswell at Stella Sola. Lachaine discovered a mentor and teacher in Caswell, following the Houston chef to Reef, where Lachaine honed his skills in the high-pressure, fast-paced Restaurant.
Lachaine then left Houston to further his ‘on the job’ culinary education by staging at some of the country’s top restaurants, including Husk (Charleston), Herbsaint Restaurant (New Orleans), COI (San Francisco) and Animal (Los Angeles). Following his travels, he returned to Houston and took on the role of Chef de Cuisine at Underbelly where he was inducted into Eater’s 2013 class of Young Guns. Lachaine then went back to Reef, continuing to learn under Caswell before deciding to take a year off from the kitchen to plan Riel. Over the year, Lachaine continued his culinary travels, seeking out some of the best restaurants in Canada and the United States, while also spending time with his wife and twin sons. Through his travels and culinary soul searching, Lachaine focused his vision on what Riel would become: An articulation of his culinary point of view.
Riel has been a critical darling since opening, becoming a fixture on Houston’s top restaurant lists and drawing accolades from the likes of Food & Wine, Esquire and Forbes. It was named one of the “Best New Restaurants in Texas” by Texas Monthly in 2018 and the number one restaurant in Houston by CultureMap in 2019.
A former semi-professional hockey player, Lachaine serves on the advisory board for The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival and also has participated in Austin Food & Wine; Food & Wine Classic in Aspen; Feast Portland; Fire, Flour & Fork (Richmond, Va.); RAW:almond (Winnipeg); and Outstanding in the Field (2018, 2019). He has hosted two guest chef dinners at The Phoenix Resort in Belize and is a six-time participant in Indie Chef Week, including as host of the event at Riel in 2018.