In 2009, when 21-year-old Ryan Kline moved from Pennsylvania to Asheville to begin his career as a chef, he thought his parents were too far away to pry. But Kline arrived during a culinary boom, and national media outlets regularly feature Asheville restaurants, so his folks keep up with him.
On a recent Food Network special, Kline cooked dinner with celebrity chef Justin Warner. “My parents were watching that night, and my dad called me and said, ‘I saw you drinking a beer by the hog pit,’” Kline recalls with a chuckle. “My parents are very much on it.”
Kline, now 26, is head chef at Buffalo Nickel, which opened in a historic building in West Asheville in March of 2014. In the polished, two-story restaurant, bar and game room, he serves modern American favorites, such as grilled rib-eye with roasted vegetables and chicken pot pie.
“You can come in here and have a nice dinner and then go upstairs and hang out some more, have some drinks and cocktails at the bar, shoot a game of pool,” Kline says. “You could have a really nice date night.”
Kline credits his youthful success to the inspiring community of local chefs. “There’s a very tight-knit group of restaurant people,” he says. “We’re all in this together; you can’t eat at one person’s restaurant every night of the week.”
That camaraderie is great for chefs and diners, Kline explains. “It keeps us all pushing to do better,” he says. “We’re all looking at each other’s menus and trying to one-up each other. Friendly competition breeds a better experience for everybody.”