Food News

Bravo! Ryan Dishman Makes His TV Debut on Top Chef Amateurs

Local Ryan Dishman makes his television debut on Top Chef Amateurs August 26.
Local Ryan Dishman makes his television debut on Top Chef Amateurs August 26. David Moir/Bravo
"This was quite a unique experience, especially in the middle of the pandemic," says Ryan Dishman, one of 24 Top Chef superfans chosen as contestants for a spin-off of the long-running cooking competition called Top Chef Amateurs, which began airing in July. Dishman's episode will premiere on Bravo at 7:15 p.m. MDT on Thursday, August 26.

Dishman developed an interest in cooking in Chicago, where he grew up in the northern suburbs and enjoyed eating at local steakhouses and dabbling in home cooking. He later worked as a restaurant manager in the Windy City, and got his first taste of cooking on the line in a professional kitchen as part of his on-the-job training. "That's where I really started to cut my teeth," he notes. But restaurant life is demanding, with tough hours. "After banging my head against the wall for five years and working from 2 p.m. to 6 a.m. every weekend and never seeing my family and friends, I decided that I should get into sales."

When he moved to Denver in 2016, he continued his career in software sales. But he also kept cooking, making meals regularly at home for his wife. During the pandemic, he began posting about them on Instagram, on his @milehighdish page. In the summer of 2020, a friend passed along a casting call for Top Chef Amateurs, which was seeking contestants all over the country for a show that pairs amateur cooks with Top Chef alums.

"I threw my Instagram on there and shared some pictures and talked a little about my background in the application process, and I thought I'd be a great fit — and it turns out they thought so, too," Dishman says.

This past fall, Dishman spent three days filming his episode in Portland, Oregon, in the same kitchen that was used on Top Chef season eighteen. Each episode of the spinoff is hosted by Gail Simmons, and showcases two of the amateur contestants facing off, taking on past Top Chef challenges. "I didn't know what to expect," Dishman recalls. "We didn't know until the moment, so I was in my hotel room writing recipes down for scenarios for what I thought I would make if I was given these challenges."
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Dishman was paired with Top Chef all-star Tiffany Derry.
David Moir/Bravo
A teaser for Dishman's episode reveals the task he took on with all-star sous chef Tiffany Derry, season seven's "fan favorite": a steak-and-potatoes challenge inspired by the 2017 Colorado season of Top Chef.

"Everybody throughout the entire process was just incredibly nice, [including] the celebrity chefs I got to meet that were judges of mine," Dishman notes. "The coolest part of the experience was just being able to have these celebrity chefs — that I've been watching on TV for years — eat my food."

Dishman is planning to watch the episode at a private home-viewing party with food from Blaine Baggao, whose Adobo food truck recently made its television debut in the Netflix series Fresh, Fried & Crispy. The event will double as a fundraiser for the Denver-based Morgan Adams Foundation, which funds children's cancer research; while that event is not open to the public, Dishman encourages everyone to donate to the nonprofit via the foundation's website.

With this boost for his culinary hobby, Dishman hopes to pursue his passion for food in other ways. He'll be teaching a Zoom cooking class for employees at the company he works for in September, and plans to expand his Instagram presence and try his hand at food blogging with a new website, Mile High Dish. "I just want to go around and show people what great experiences there could be in Denver," he says. His recommendations so far: Safta, at the Source Hotel, and one of his personal favorites, Cherry Creek Grill.

While sales is still his day job, Dishman admits that "this moment of being a Bravo-lebrity is really fun."

Bravo!
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Molly Martin is the Westword Food & Drink editor. She’s been writing about the dining scene in Denver since 2013, and was eating her way around the city long before that. She enjoys long walks to the nearest burrito joint and nights spent sipping cocktails on Colfax.
Contact: Molly Martin