Born in Wiltshire, England, Ryan Clift’s culinary career began at the early age of 14. He was drawn to the high energy and atmosphere of the kitchen from a young age and trained under some of the world’s greatest chefs including Marco Pierre White, Peter Gordon, and Emmanuel Renaut. Ryan moved to Melbourne, Australia in 1999, where he served as head chef of Shannon Bennett’s critically acclaimed Vue de Monde.
Ryan arrived in Singapore in 2008 to set up his own venture, Tippling Club. Known for its progressive, avant garde cuisine and equally inventive cocktails, Tippling Club quickly rose through the ranks of Asia’s Top 20 Restaurants in The Miele Guide.
In 2011 , Ryan was the first Singapore – based presenter at the world famous Madrid Fusión culinary congress; and two years later, Tippling Club bagged five awards at the World Gourmet Summit Awards of Excellence, including the coveted Restaurant of the Year and Bar of the Year. In 2014, Tippling Club was inducted into the illustrious Krug Ambassade global network, placing Ryan as one of three Krug Ambassade chefs in Singapore. 2017 saw Tippling Club rise in global rankings placing 27th in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, 11th in Asia’s 50 Best Bars, and 31st in World’s 50 Best Bars and in the same breath bring home the honour of Best International Restaurant Bar at the Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards.
1. What is your philosophy when it comes to food?
One ingredient needs to be the star of the dish first. Next, we’ll work on the flavour profile of that one ingredient, we then work on the texture, temperature, aroma and lastly the sight or presentation of the plate.
2. Name your most Favorite dish on the menu? And why?
The A4 Toriyama Wagyu with textures of umami. It’s a dish that’s been on the menu for a few years now. Very rare that a dish stays on the menu for that long at Tippling Club. It’s a dish we helped create for a very famous food scientist called Doctor Umami, the guy who discovered the fifth sense of the palate. We created it many years ago, we used an amazing piece of meat from the Gunma prefecture which is co-owned by Doctor Umami, that is also the reason why we chose the meat. It’s a meat dish and a main course in a tasting menu. It’s so elegant and clean. It’s my favourite because at the end of a tasting menu, it’s difficult to eat meat for a main course because most people start to get full. But this is a dish that’s so clean that you just appreciate all the flavours of the beef and accompanied by all the different flavours of umami, which lifts your palate and actually prepares you for the last few courses of the menu.
3. Main considerations when it comes to choosing your ingredients?
It needs to be as fresh as physically possible.
4. How do you see the growing demands for sustainable produce affecting the food world?
I don’t see it as a growing demand because it’s a social responsibility on chefs to try to source as sustainably as possible. This has only been a trend in the last 15 years even though cooking has been around since the dawn of Christ. People just needs to be more responsible on where they are sourcing their ingredients from and try to support producers that are promoting sustainability produce when they can, otherwise the world is going to collapse.
5. If you weren’t a chef, or in the food business, what would you be?
I wanted to be a hairdresser when I was younger.
6. Do you have a memorable food experience that impacted you as a child or young chef?
When I ate at El Bulli in Spain for the very first time. I was very lucky to have dined at that restaurant when it was number one in the world. The first time I ate there I was subjected to 34 courses on the chef’s table with the world’s most famous chef. When I walked out the restaurant, I couldn’t feel my feet touching the floor. I had such a mindblowing experience that I sat on the beach, at 1 am, drinking a bottle of rum and smoking cigars until dawn because mentally I couldn’t figure out what had happened and how he did it. For me, that was also the tipping point in my career that I needed to understand better the multiple courses and experimental aspects.
7. What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Making other people happy. That feeling of putting your body through physical or mental torment just to make other people smile. But it is such a rewarding feeling when people enjoy the creations that you took months and years to develop. It’s a very rewarding experience to be a chef at the top of your game.
8. Other than creating good food, what are the most important qualities that make a successful chef?
Thick skin. Being open to criticism. Understanding other people’s needs. Always remembering that not everyone is as good as you are. Show respect to the staff.
9. If you had a choice of anything for your last meal, what would you choose to have?
My late nan’s trifle. The reason being there’s so much alcohol in it, I know I’ll die with a smile.
10. Do you have any tips for budding chefs or restaurateurs?
Stick true to your dream. Do what you want and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.