Traverse City chef talks comfort food from his stomping grounds in a Northern Michigan restaurant kitchen. Meet Executive Chef of Harbor 22, Ryan Mateling.

Brought up in Bellaire, Chef Ryan Mateling found his love of culinaria working in kitchens while studying theater at Northern Michigan University. After a stage at the Grand Traverse Resort, Ryan worked under Michael Peterson at Lulu’s for five years before joining Harbor 22 in 2012. We catch up with Ryan to talk comfort cooking and the secret to perfect fried chicken.

Give us the chef’s perspective on comfort food?
My food is a reflection of my childhood. Our country meatloaf, which has become a signature dish here at Harbor 22, is basically an upgrade of my mom’s recipe.

This is serious meatloaf, what’s the process?
We make what’s called a charcutiere’s meatloaf, as it uses multiple cuts of meat. I grind local pork shoulder, chuck and Plath’s bacon with my house-cured. We add caramelized celery and onions along with a bourbon custard panade, and glaze the loaf with a bourbon-and-vanilla ketchup.

Your fried chicken is fast becoming local 
legend; how can we re-create it at home?
We break down whole Michigan Amish chickens and brine them for four days in buttermilk with Dijon mustard and an ancho chili rub with cinnamon, oregano, brown sugar, salt and pepper. The chicken comes out of the brine and gets dredged twice in flour seasoned with those same spices. Fry the chicken in a canola oil blend at 350 degrees until it’s a rich golden brown, and then finish it in the oven at 350 degrees until cooked through. We serve with jalapeno-infused local honey.


Get more tips from Northern Michigan chefs at MyNorth Recipes