Corrine Ryan – Director of Operations, Sails Restaurant and The Butcher, Naples, Florida
Corrine Ryan is known as one of the best food brokers in the world. It’s her job to find producers and build relationships between them and restaurants to ensure that the best produce is reaching the plate.
In the meantime, Corrine and her husband Veljko Pavicevic run three restaurants in Naples, Florida, – Sails, The Butcher and Sava – where she can draw on her expertise to ensure the best dining experience in all three venues.
She’s come a long way since her childhood in New Zealand where she was born, before her family moved to Sydney to grow their importing company where she worked throughout her high school years.
With 10 years’ experience already under her belt, she skipped university and went to work for JBS Australia under now chief executive officer Brent Eastwood as a junior office assistant. “When Brent moved to the United States with JBS I went with him and spent a few years in Colorado.”
But the “cold got old”, she laughs, and she moved to the warmer climes of Florida.
It was there where she met Veljko and they fell in love, with each other and with the idea of opening restaurants where they would like to eat.
“We wanted to create a restaurant where we would want to come, where we would want to entertain our clients,” Corrine says.
“There were no places like that … so we built it for ourselves.
“My husband was lucky to start at Ritz Carlton when it was the only five-star restaurant in Florida, so he learnt at the highest level.
“And then we opened Sails. If there’s one thing the two of us are, we’re extremely determined. We’ve learned how to stick to our guns, it’s all about the quality of service and food excellence. “A lot of people didn’t expect us to succeed, but almost six years later, the accolades speak for themselves with Sails Restaurant taking the lead in the luxury dining scene in Naples.”
Even though Sails is primarily a seafood restaurant there is a strong focus on beef from Australia. At the exclusive members’ restaurant Butcher Private however, Corrine’s connection with Australian beef is at the forefront. It’s a sophisticated 220-seat steakhouse, with a lounge, and four private dining rooms.
“The most important thing when we’re sourcing beef is quality but it needs to be exclusive. We want something that no one else has.
“I sincerely believe Australian beef is the best quality.
“I have a great relationship with JBS due to my history of working with them for well over a decade. However that’s not the only reason why.
“It really is the best quality and we are committed to delivering the best to our discerning guests.”
Over the years she’s dined at some of the world’s best restaurants, sampling different cuisines from around the world.
“Menus are a huge inspiration for us in our own venues,” she says. “Some of the best experiences we’ve had in places such as New York at Per Se or even Tetsuya’s in Sydney have shaped what we do.
“I would love to eat at any of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s tables, who owns restaurants around the world, from London to Miami to Paris and Shanghai and Tokyo. He treats produce with respect.”
For Corrine and Veljko it’s all about bringing luxury to the dinner table.
“We want to be known for quality and bringing back traditional luxury fine dining,” she says.
“It’s really hard to find excellence and luxury because it’s difficult to do. No one else does it because I can tell you every day it’s challenging.
“You need to have someone driving excellence all the time because it can be lost really quickly. To have a team that is all striving to do better every day is the only way.”
At home she still searches for the best quality produce. She might cook a Little Joe tenderloin, from the JBS stable. Wherever she’s cooking, for Corrine it’s about remembering her early days at JBS Australia and the respect that was paid to the cattle producers at the pointy end of the game.
“Every ingredient needs to have a story,” she says.