Ryan Hildebrand is the Executive Chef and Partner at Triniti, a progressive American restaurant at 2815 S. Shepherd Dr. in the Upper Kirby/River Oaks area.
Since opening Triniti in December 2011, Hildebrand and his talented team have set a culinary standard for “fine, casual” dining in Houston with dishes that are as visually beautiful as they are delicious. A Houston native, Hildebrand graduated from Baylor University with a degree in fine arts before pursuing his culinary journey. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., he estaged at Charlie Palmer’s Aureole restaurant in NYC before returning to Houston to hone his craft working with some of the city’s finest chefs — Mark Cox at Mark’s American Cuisine, Philippe Schmidt at Bistro Moderne, Jim Mills at the Houstonian Club and Scott Tycer at Textile.
Hildebrand has garnered both local and national acclaim at Triniti. Forbes magazine said “Hildebrand’s offerings represent progressive American food at its finest, and Triniti is an excellent addition to, and competition for, Houston’s standard bearers.”
Q&A with Triniti’s Ryan Hildebrand
Biggest influences: “When I was younger, my inspiration would come from other chefs, chefs that I worked for and aspired to emulate like Jim Mills or Mark Cox. I would say now, as I’ve gotten older and further along in my career, I’m finding more inspiration closer to home. My greatest inspirations come from my cooks – the people that I work closely with, from the chefs in the kitchen like Pat Sommers and Nick Hill and Caroline Ramirez, down to our greenest cooks. It’s interesting how that flipped. I look to them for fresh ideas, fresh perspectives, a different set of eyes, a different way of thinking. We collaborate so much here that I think we draw inspiration from each other.”
Why Houston: “Houston’s a great place to have a restaurant because of the diversity of the food scene here. While there are a lot of restaurants in number, there’s not a lot of repetition. I feel like the diversity of the things that go on here keeps it fresh.”
What makes Houston special: “The people in the city, really. The people that I’ve gotten to meet here at Triniti, our guests. I’ve made friends out of a lot of them. I think the people in the city reflect the diversity of the restaurant scene. It’s a broad demographic, and it’s growing in so many positive directions. It just keeps improving.”
What he tries to convey about the city/region with his menu: “In specific correlation to Houston, Triniti is casually elegant. It’s sophisticated but it’s comfortable and approachable, and that’s kind of how the city is: It’s a sophisticated metropolis but it’s still a comfortable, casual place. In terms of ingredients, we seek out the best that we can find, regardless of where they come from, and we try to look in our own backyard for as much as we can. Our ingredients are globally sourced but we’re doing stuff from the Gulf on the menu, we source pork from Black Hill Meats in Houston, and all of our lettuce and most of our produce is locally sourced. We try to support local farmers whenever we can.”
Last meal in Houston before leaving town, first meal upon returning: “Soma Sushi on Washington Avenue on the way out; my wife Mollye and I love to go there and sit at the bar and get our sushi fix in. Coming back, Whataburger. Personally, I’m a double with cheese guy – #2 with a Whatasize Dr. Pepper. It’s Houston, it’s Texas, it’s home. Other than our FM Burger, it’s my favorite burger, and it’s the only fast food burger I really like.”