Ryan Caldwell says he was ready to “come home”.
The 35-year-old culinary director for three, and possibly four, new restaurant concepts set to open in downtown Madison has taken off from his last gig as chef at the Malibu Beach Inn in Los Angeles in Madison, met Preston Snyder, CEO of Thomas Preston Real Estate, toured the town and had a thought. “Okay, this one’s right, that’s the thing.”
Caldwell and his wife, Catalina Ontaneda Rendon, have moved to Madison and he is preparing to open The Sinclair on Hancock Street in three weeks, immediately followed by the opening of Mad Taco on East Washington Street in the space created by the restoration of the former Simmons Funeral Home building. In the fall, he says, the company will be opening a British pub concept alongside Mad Taco. Both restaurants will include alfresco dining on the Hancock Street side.
Caldwell, who worked at Michelin restaurant Picholine in New York City and helped open several restaurants on the city’s Upper East Side, including two farm-to-table type concepts, said he spent much of his time time to prepare the openings. , on the development of a pipeline of local sources. The Gainesville, Ga. Native said after stays in Portland, New York, Los Angeles and Vail, Co., “I’m finally taking the wheels off.”
The Sinclair, he says, will be open in the morning as a coffee bar, then move into a wine, cocktail and tapas bar in the evening with limited seating inside the old gas station and more. of places outside under cover. The goal of The Sinclair and Mad Taco, he says, will be to source local ingredients.
âWe’re going to bring together as many local ingredients as possible,â he says. âWe try to make amazing food from the food around us. “
He says he’s already sourced a local organic chicken farmer, will source beef from a farmer in Morgan County, and is looking for a pork producer. He also met with Morgan County High School Culinary Director Chris Roundtree to begin a relationship with the school’s culinary program.
The Mad Taco menu will include braised beef tacos, pulled chicken, pork, fish, and vegetarian options. âFor me, there’s only one way to do this and it’s from scratch,â he says. “You can taste the difference.”
Caldwell expects a “soft opening” of Mad Taco in less than a month. Mad Taco will have around 40 seats inside with more seats available outside. With both restaurants and the British pub concept, Caldwell says, the menu will reflect a seasonal variety of local dishes. âWhat’s fresh is what’s good,â he says. âYou never know what they will bring you. You have to make the most of it.