Accomplished chef finds home at The Rib

Thursday, May 29, 2008
The Rib owners Bill and Shirley Lay have welcomed a new staff member. Chef Randell Ray joined the restaurant in November of 2007. Ray, who received his training at the Texas Culinary Academy in Austin, Texas, has nearly a dozen years of restaurant experience. Pictured above, from left, are: Ray and Shirley Lay. Democrat Photo

Chef Randell Ray, who previously worked as a movie industry caterer, has found a new home at The Rib, which is located on Highway 112 in Cassville.

Originally from Miami, Okla., Ray began his culinary career nearly a dozen years ago when he began working in restaurants at the age of 16. After he graduated from high school, he decided to perfect his culinary skills by entering a post-secondary program.

As Ray began to compare culinary schools, he came across information on the Texas Culinary Academy in Austin, Texas, which is ranked as the third most prestigious culinary school in the United States.

Through the academy's Le Cordon Bleu program, Ray learned an assortment of cooking techniques and worked with a variety of modern culinary equipment. He successfully completed the prestigious program in 2004.

After graduating from culinary school, Ray began searching for new and exciting venues in which to perfect the skills he learned at the academy. He found what he was looking for when he was invited to work as a caterer for Warner Brothers Studios.

"The man I did my apprenticeship with before I entered culinary school was a veteran in the movie industry," said Ray. "I had an opportunity to become a movie caterer and I took it. That was my first job out of culinary school."

Ray moved to Los Angeles, Calif., and served as a caterer to the stars for around two years.

While employed by Warner Brothers, Ray was able to work on the movie sets of "American Gangster," "The Departed," "I Am Legend," "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" and "Body of Lies," which has not yet been released. He also served the cast and crews of "Kidnapped," "Six Degrees" and "The Sopranos."

In addition to working for Warner Brothers, Ray has served as a chef at a variety of venues across the United States. He has worked in restaurants in New York, N.Y., Philadelphia, Pa., Washington, D.C., Atlantic City, N.J., and Austin, Texas.

"I've worked in hotels and catered music events," said Ray. "I worked at the Route 66 Music Festival."

When Ray's parents decided to retire to Barry County last year, he decided to relocate to the area also. In November of 2007, he began working as the head chef at The Rib in Cassville.

"I love this place," said Ray. "Barry County is such a neat, quaint home for me. The people are friendly, down-to-earth, good people. It's much different from New York or LA. It's so much nicer here."

Although Ray says his new position has been somewhat challenging it has allowed him to learn new culinary skills.

"I've worked at a lot of places where we serve a lot of different things," said Ray. "Here, I had to centralize myself to what the diners want. It has been very, very challenging."

Over the last six months, Ray has had the opportunity to add his own personal touches to The Rib menu by improving the entrees that area diners have grown to love.

"I changed the way we do the ribs and all of the smoked meats," said Ray. "I also changed the quality of the beef. I would say that we sell better meat than anyone around. Our beef is hand picked for us out of St. Louis, and it is really good."

As Ray continues his culinary career in Barry County, he will concentrate on improving and adding to The Rib's menu.

"We're taking it back to the way diners like it," said Ray. "We will continue to improve and add to the restaurant's tried-and-true menu."

When Ray is not busy serving delectable entrees to Barry County diners, he enjoys spending time with his 4-year-old son, Jonah.

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