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"Chef Ryan" serves love at Rainbows

Cooking is Love Made Visible

Rainbows’ cook, Ryan Lewis, grew up with seven great uncles in the restaurant business.  He started in the industry washing dishes at age 15, and by the time he was 19 he was a salaried manager (at the time the youngest salaried manager in the nationwide chain he worked for). He spent the next few decades working for two more casual dining chains all around the region, Kansas City, Omaha, Tulsa and Memphis, to name a few, as a Kitchen Manager.

“I have been aware of Rainbows and the work they do for over 25 years,” said Ryan. “When we were in middle/high school, my younger sister would volunteer with Rainbows and she would always speak very highly of her experiences with the staff and the kids. Those stories stuck with me so when I saw this job opening, I knew I had to have it.”

A normal work day for Ryan is what you might expect a cook’s day to be. A lot of cooking, cleaning, scrubbing pots, measuring ingredients and so on. “I am fairly isolated in the kitchen so my favorite part of the day is when I get to deliver the meals to the classrooms,” he said. “I get to see all the awesome little guys and gals and my extraordinary co-workers.”

“This is the first job I’ve ever had that I can truly say I love,” said Ryan. “Each day I walk through the door is my favorite Rainbows’ moment. My biggest achievement was when the kids started calling me “Chef Ryan”. At that point I knew I had made it.”

“Ryan brings a special kind of energy to the people around him,” said Michelle Croomes, Early Care and Education & CBETS Coordinator.  “He is flexible, and helpful no matter what the situation might be.  He loves to interact with the kids, and even formally answered questions one of the classrooms submitted to him.  We are so lucky to have him as part of the Rainbows’ family!”

Ryan and his wife Michelle were friends for almost 10 years before they started dating. They have a son who just turned two years old. Michelle has two boys from her first marriage and Ryan has two girls and a boy from his. “So that is six all together ranging from 19 years old to the little guy,” said Ryan. “It makes for a busy mama and papa.”