Local Love: Meet Ryan Studebaker & Rachel King of Gingham

Boy meets girl. Boy happens to be a master in the kitchen and girl is notorious for whipping up a mean dessert. It’s the fairytale of the culinary world.

Ryan Studebaker, the 26 year-old Chef de Cuisine at Gingham and Rachel King, Executive Pastry Chef of the same La Mesa hot-spot share more than just a passion for food that thrills. This San Diego couple manages to make their gastronomic skills collide with an unshakable romance.

Both Ryan and Rachel are noted as two up-and-coming culinary forces to be reckoned with in the San Diego dining scene, especially as part of the Brian Malarkey expansion from Searsuker to Burlap, Gingham, and soon Gabardine and Herringbone. It just so happens that the two get to go home together when the day is through. Ryan, also known as “Big Smoke” has kept things innovative in the kitchens with his signature meats braised in beer and whiskey at Gingham. Rachel, meanwhile, sweetens things up with her clever concoctions including the infamous “King” Sundae at Searsucker.

In a DSD exclusive, Ryan and Rachel dish on why working together can work for a couple, where they see themselves in five years, and how they inspire each other both in the kitchen and at home.

DiscoverSD: How did you guys meet?

Both:  We worked together at Bertrand at Mr. A’s.

DSD: What was the first thing that caught your attention?

Rachel: Ryan wasn’t super loud like a lot of other people we worked with.  I like that- I like having to get to know someone.

Ryan:  I first noticed her big beautiful smile, among other things…

DSD: What are your three favorite things about your partner?

Ryan:  Her attitude, sense of humor, and desire to be successful.

Rachel: He is easy going, we have the same sense of humor, and he is unbelievably honest/ trustworthy. 

DSD: How do you manage your relationship at work (ie. in the kitchen)? How do you find a balance?

Ryan:  It’s a balancing act for sure.  You can’t bring work home and you can’t bring home to work.  Also finding time to do things together outside of work is very important, as well as using each other as a sounding board for menu ideas.  She’s very honest…

Rachel: I really don’t think that has ever been a problem for us, since we met at work we are just used to compartmentalizing some stuff.  Ryan and I are very similar at work.      


DSD: What is your relationship like at home?

Ryan:  It’s great, when we actually get to be at home.

Rachel:  Luxurious.


DSD: What do you guys like to do for fun in San Diego?

Both:  The beach, brunch, Balboa Park, the Zoo, exploring new restaurants, movies, having fun with our dog.


DSD: What is your idea of a perfect date night?

Ryan: I’m a classic dinner and a movie kind of guy. 

Rachel:  I love the sun, so my perfect date would actually be during the day.  I would go to the beach or do something active and then we could finish off with Ryan picking dinner and a movie.  We might as well take advantage of our one day off together when we get it!


DSD: In one sentence, explain why it works.

Ryan: We both have an understanding and commitment to what it takes to be successful in our career, which will translate to success as a couple.

Rachel:  We understand each other’s daily lives and support each other.


DSD: What is the most romantic evening you’ve spent together?

Ryan:  A staycation in La Jolla, when we went to Windansea for the day and then stayed at Hotel Parisi.

Rachel:  It was perfect. 


DSD: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Ryan:  Together, with another dog, and possibly thinking of starting a business together.  Who knows?  We are pretty much where we want to be, so hopefully it will just be a continuation of the path we are on.

Rachel:  Another dog?  I want a puppy now!


DSD: What’s your dating advice to busy, working couples?

Ryan:  You have to put everything else aside and find time for each other.  I’ve learned something as simple as vacuuming can go a long way!

Rachel:  Make sure to put enough effort into your relationship!  It is so easy to put it on the backburner when you work all the time, but it needs to be just as much of a priority as work.


DSD: How do you inspire each other? How do you challenge each other?

Ryan:  She pushes me to be a better chef on a daily basis.  She balances all these different menus and it pushes me to learn more everyday.

Rachel:  Ryan is a workhorse.  Seriously.  An animal.  So whenever I am getting overwhelmed with the amount that is on my plate, I look at him and decide to get a grip.


DSD: Finally, we want to know: What is it like having Brian Malarkey be a big part of your relationship? 

Rachel:  Well you know, Brian comes over and cooks dinner for us every night and does our laundry once in a while. Ha! Joke!

**Main photo by XOXO Wedding Photos

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