In Pursuit of Perfection - Ryan Griffin
"Luck is good, but rather than lucky I'd be prepared so when luck comes, I’m ready.” — Ryan Griffin
The Early Days
Like many, Ryan Griffin’s introduction to a life outdoors came by way of family. “My Grandpa was a waterman and an avid fisherman. He threw me a set of keys to a door: Here is the world, he said, and here are the things I can show you within it.” Ryan did not just enter that world—he leaped into it with reckless abandon. While he pursued most any medium involving water, fishing quickly became his primary focus. “I took off on it. My entire life depended on being a great fisherman,” Ryan notes, and the same sentiment rings true decades later, “I’m extremely dedicated to the sport and all the things around it that make me feel human.”
In his early twenties, Ryan landed a job working to help restore Southern California’s white seabass population, a collective but consuming effort to return the fishery to its heyday. Working with local biologists offered a deeper understanding of the complexities of fisheries management, widening Ryan’s scope of what it meant to hunt and harvest. Ryan eventually transitioned into a professional career fisherman, quickly adapting to the demands of a complex offshore fishery. He openly admits, “School and I never really got along, but I knew how to fish, and I knew how to work.”
Captain and Chef
At twenty-five, he was exploring how to strike a balance between his love for fishing and an internal desire to remain physically and mentally healthy. Almost by accident, he was soon venturing into high-end culinary arts, falling in lockstep with the industry’s demand for timeliness, organization, and an overall desire to always exceed expectations.
The next few years provided Ryan with the experience and confidence to strike out on his own, now wielding a new arsenal of talents. Soon he was working for a slew of wealthy clientele, providing guests with a multi-layered experience as captain and chef. Not only could they revel in exceptional fishing and culinary delights, but often Ryan could share the nuances of fishing, butchery, fish preparation, and the critical undertone of fisheries management.
The Art of Preparation
Over those years, Ryan’s personality, commercial fishing background, and restaurant experience melded an individual obsessed with preparation. He adopted a mentality of “Luck is good, but I’d rather be prepared so when luck comes, I’m ready,” running every scenario through his head before pitching the final dock line. “If you can leave the dock with a high level of confidence, that can be the difference between a tuna in the cockpit or a long ride home,” he says, organizing himself and his gear to have few, if any, flaws.
Pursuing Perfection in Fishing and Beyond
In recent years, Ryan has honed in on the rebounding bluefin tuna fishery, putting nearby restaurants on high alert. In true fashion, he underscores the care he takes in catch and delivery, utilizing the Ike Jime method and attention to fish processing. “I want these chefs to be blindsided by the fish quality if my name is associated with it,” he says, with chefs regularly scrambling for more after tasting a sample. And like any obsessive craftsman, no one venture is enough, and Ryan’s story is incomplete without mention of his boat.
“Originally, we thought we could do it in a year… After two and a half years, it caught up with me. The reality is there was a lot of failure along the way—but neither my boat partner or I were afraid to fail. That’s why it all worked out.” The process was one of literal blood, sweat, and tears, forcing Ryan and his boat partner to regularly tear apart all progress in crafting something worth standing by. Once the last stroke of paint dried, he feels it far exceeded their expectations but remarks slyly, “but if I built another, it would be better.” That sentiment speaks to the core of the fisherman, the captain, the chef, the conservationist, the craftsman—aspiring to not only reach the pinnacle of each new venture but somehow forge new heights beyond it.
Ryan will be the first to admit that pursuing perfection has never been about the attainable but pushing oneself to strive for greater success and purpose. To pursue perfection means to discard mediocrity, to recognize progress but also to question what lies beyond it. It means a mind in a constant state of overdrive, where orderliness, preparation, and a play-by-play of each potential scenario take center stage. It means committing oneself to the notion that a captain is only as well-managed as his boat, an angler as dialed as his tackle, and a chef as organized as his mise en place.