Chef Tony Brown, creator and mastermind behind Ruins, began his career at Twigs, worked at Luna for a year, and Mizuna for almost eight! In 2012, he opened Stella’s, which he has now merged with Ruins. You can find some of your favorite Stella’s Sandwich favorites at Ruins for lunch. He used to walk by the space for Ruins and had his eye on it for a while. He purchased the space in 2015 and the rest is history!
When I asked Tony to tell me about how he became a chef he said “it just kind of happened”. It wasn’t until Tony opened Ruins that he truly found his passion for cooking. Chef Tony is originally from Oregon, but moved around a lot throughout California, Washington, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Texas. He attended a different school every year until he was 15, when he moved to Spokane.
He started his college studies at Spokane Falls Community College then moved to Eastern Washington University where he studied journalism, English, music, and architecture. He couldn’t quite decide what he wanted to do. He has been working in kitchens since he was about 17 years old. “It was always an easy job to get, so that’s what I did” he said. Well Tony, we are sure glad you stuck with it.
What is your favorite cooking show?
Mind of a Chef. His favorite Non-cooking show right now is Black Mirror.
Is there a chef you admire the most? Why?
Tony says he learned a lot from various chefs in Chicago, specifically John-Georges Vongerichten at “Vong”. He admires his presentation, and the way he builds flavors, concentrating on fresh ingredients. Brown gets his inspiration from other artistic endeavors like painting & music.
What set of skills or characteristics do you have that you think set you apart?
Curiosity. Chef Tony is very curious about all sorts of food. That’s what motivates him every day. If you’ve eaten at Ruins then you know the menu items are constantly changing. The first year they were open they did 52 different menus for all 52 weeks of the year. Clearly Tony is passionate about what he does because that is no easy feat.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
He enjoys hanging out with his fiancé and 14 year old daughter. He also likes music and plays the guitar. Tony’s fiancé is vegetarian so he enjoys cooking a lot of vegetarian dishes at home, usually incorporating curry and rice.
Where do you like to eat around Spokane?
Queen of Sheba, Taste of India, Zona Blanca, Central Food, Fleur De Sel Artisan Crepery
Do you have a signature dish? / What ingredients do you like to work with?
Chef Brown likes working with a lot of spices. He says “weird spices intrigue him.” He likes to shop at the Asian market, buy the weirdest spice he can find, and try to figure out how to use it.
What can we expect from Ruins?
We all now know about Chef Tony’s new “super-top-secret” downtown Spokane eatery set to open this spring! He plans to have the restaurant open all day and it will be “a more polished version of Ruins”. It’s called Eyvind, inspired by Disney, and you can find it a couple doors down from High Nooner. Tony is also pursuing opening Stella’s again, so keep your eyes and ears open for news on that.
What is your favorite thing on the menu at your restaurant?
He’s really into braising of meats so any sort of braise that’s on menu: Brisket, Carnitas, Pork shoulder.
You’re on death row, what would your last meal be?
If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?
What is your favorite cereal? You can tell a lot about a person based on their favorite cereal…
Tony’s body doesn’t agree with milk so he tries to stay away from cereal, but he loves a good, super crunchy granola.
Ruins (825 N Monroe St, Spokane, WA // 509.443.5606)