City Lifestyle



A Chef’s Playground

Kai Restaurant’s Head Chef Ryan Swanson Gives us the Dish

Article by Michelle Talsma Everson

Photography by Lindsay Borg

Originally published in Chandler Lifestyle

Ryan Swanson, head chef of Kai Restaurant at Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass, was inspired to become a chef after watching a documentary on Chef Marco Pierre White in the ’90s. Fast-forward to today, and he continues to make culinary waves at Kai Restaurant.

“I have been at Kai for a decade, but have been in the head chef role for four years,” Ryan shares. “What caught my attention about Kai in the beginning was the unique ingredients with no limits in the kitchen for creativity. To join Kai was a no-brainer for me as it is a cook’s playground. Kai is a place where you can push yourself to the limits and grow at a rapid pace.”

Ryan would know as his career at Kai has seen fast growth—including being promoted from the sous chef position and studying under former head chef Joshua Johnson. Among his many responsibilities is creating new dishes.

“I always ask myself a few questions when I create new dishes for the restaurant,” he shares. “Does it make sense? Does it look great? Does it taste great? I am creating a menu that has to tell a story of the Pima and Maricopa people through the food, so I have to make sure everything that goes on the menu does that in some way.”

While all of the dishes are special to him, his current favorite dish is the Lamb Shoulder with Cheimeth.

“It’s simple, delicious and elegant,” he says. “It makes me proud to see the dish go out into the dining room. A great representing dish for Kai.”

For those who have never been to Kai Restaurant, Ryan is proud to share how the restaurant is a local must-try.

“Getting to experience the sunset over the Komatke Mountains is one of the most breathtaking views. Pair that with phenomenal service and unique tastings from the kitchen that tell stories from the past of the community where the restaurant resides—you are in for a very unique Arizona experience that you will not find anywhere else,” he says. “If you’re looking for a special dining experience with your loved ones, this is the restaurant for you.”

This month, as the weather cools, Ryan recommends a warm seasonal soup.

“In October, look for the Toca Squash soup to make its way back to our menu,” he says. “This is my favorite time of year for roasting local Toca squash over Mesquite wood for a delicious fall soup.”

Learn more about Kai Restaurant at

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