When Ryan Scott appeared as a “cheftestant” on season four of Bravo TV’s award-winning reality series Top Chef, he knew he wanted to use his newfound fame to do good. Over the years, Scott has devoted countless hours to charity fundraising, but the one closest to his heart is the one he founded six years ago, Harvest from the Heart. Every Thanksgiving, Scott and a group of volunteers hand out boxed lunches and new pairs of socks to those in need. So far they’ve helped over 15,000 people. Scott donates all of his appearance fees, which, along with other donations, keeps the charity going. “If everyone skipped just one restaurant meal a week and donated that money to a charity, it could really make a difference,” Scott said over coffee at his new Potrero Hill restaurant, Market & Rye. “And if you can’t donate money, you can always donate your time. That’s just as valuable.”
Scott recently appeared at a sold-out benefit for the Ronald McDonald House, which provides temporary housing for families with seriously ill or injured children during their hospital stays. The charity hits home for Scott, who had cancer as a child. “Ronald McDonald House would have made a huge difference for my parents when I was sick,” he said. “To be able to stay somewhere like that instead of sleeping in the station wagon outside the hospital would have made it so much easier.”
With two well-received Market & Rye locations (the original is in West Portal), a bustling catering business, and a show on KGO radio (Saturdays from 4 to 6 p.m.), Scott’s success continues to grow. Food Rush, his new television series on the Living Well Network, recently beat the popular Travel Channel series, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations in the ratings. With Food Rush, Scott is doing something different than the usual food show where the host stands in a kitchen and cooks; he takes viewers inside every aspect of his life, from a visit with his mother to his charity work to trips to the farms where he buys produce.
As the executive chef at Myth Cafe (closed in 2008), Scott helped pioneer the gourmet sandwich craze. After stints at a few other restaurants, including his popular pop-up, Brunch Drunk Love, Scott has returned to what he does best — imaginative sandwiches, salads, and soups made with topnotch ingredients at his two Market & Rye locations.
As if running two restaurants and a catering business and hosting a radio show and a TV show aren’t enough, over the next several months Scott will appear on the Home Shopping Network as spokesperson for the Bon Appétit cookware line.
“My schedule is definitely crazy, but I feel so fortunate to be able to do something I love and give back to the community,” Scott said. “When it comes down to it, that’s what it’s all about.”
For more on Harvest from the Heart, visit www.harvestfromtheheart.com.