Ryan Freitas

A Tumblr Blog
  • August 6, 2013 4:29 pm

    Who wants to help me recipe test?

    Last week I got invited to contribute to a cook book. First time ever, bit of an odd request. I do work in technology, but once upon a time I was a line cook - I’ve got a culinary degree and everything.

    The real issue is, I don’t really know how to write out recipes for the kinds of food I make for my family and friends. When cooks talk to one another about how they make a particular dish, there’s a short-hand-bordering-on-cryptography that gets used to communicate the technique in the broadest strokes possible. Having to think about how much butter, or even how many minutes something sits in the oven to get to the proper doneness, is just sort of … odd.

    So I’m asking for help. I’m going to submit this, but I’d love for as many people as possible to take a crack at it. Even if you could just read it and let me know if it feels complete - did I skip a step? Does a transition from one activity to the next seem weird? I’ll totally take any feedback you’ve got. And if you make the recipe, let me know what you think of the outcome - how can we make the instructions bullet proof, to make sure others get the best outcome possible.

    Here goes nothing.



    4 8 ounce NY Strip steaks

    2 ounces olive oil

    4 ounces butter

    4 ounces Pinot Noir

    8 ounces dark veal or beef stock

    1/2 tablespoon demi glace*

    2 ounces morel mushrooms

    2 ounces peeled** fava beans

    Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

    * you can substitute a 1/2 ounce of heavy cream instead of the demi, but why would you want to?

    ** if you’ve never peeled them before, there’s some great tutorial videos online

    SERVES 4


    Go ahead and preheat your oven to 425°F/220°C. You’ll be making the sauce first, and it needs to reduce by nearly two-thirds, so you’ve got some time before you’ll need your oven fully up to temperature. Do yourself and your guests a massive favor and pull your steaks out of the fridge about 20 minutes before they go into the pan. Give them a tiny amount of oil to moisten their surfaces, and then salt and pepper them to your preference. Set them aside and get started on your sauce.


    You should be using a Pinot Noir that you would be happy to drink, so pour yourself a glass, and then pour the wine into a medium sized sauce pan. Place it on a burner at medium-high heat; you’re looking to reduce the wine at a good simmer, but don’t boil it. Reduce the wine around three-quarters of the way, about an ounce. You’ll need to eyeball it, but thankfully it’s not an exact science. When it’s at the right place, stir in the stock and reduce it over medium heat. This time you’re looking to reduce by about two-thirds, resulting in about 3 ounces of liquid in the pan. Whisk in the demi glace (or the heavy cream) and stir in a pinch each of salt and pepper with a wooden spoon. You’re looking for a layer of sauce thick enough to leave a light coating on back of your spoon when you remove it. Put the sauce to the side and get ready to cook your steaks.


    You’ll be searing your steaks on the stove and then finishing them in the oven. Heat your pan over a burner on high heat. Once hot (and not before) add your olive oil. You’ll know it’s properly heated when it develops a sheen. Once hot, add 3 ounces of butter to the pan - when the bubbling subsides, place your steaks in the pan and sear on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. For extra credit, use tongs to stand the steaks on their fatty side and sear the fat cap. Once seared, transfer the pan to the oven and cook to your desired doneness. Ovens vary, but you can estimate around 5-7 minutes for rare, 10 minutes for medium rare, 12 minutes for medium, and so on. Remove the pan from the oven, and remove the steaks from the pan so they can rest for at least 5 to 10 minutes. You’re going to be heating the sauce back up, so it’s not essential for the meat to be ripping hot when you plate it.


    Your steaks are resting, it’s time to bring the final pieces together. Bring your sauce back to the stove and put it over medium heat. Once it begins to simmer, turn off the burner and whisk in your remaining butter (around 1 ounce). When the butter is fully incorporated, add the morels and the peeled fava beans. Stir slowly for 30 seconds and the heat of the sauce will soften them perfectly. Plate the steaks and ladle two spoonfuls of sauce, favas and morels on top of each steak. Enjoy.

  • October 31, 2012 12:15 pm
    keebitz:  Hi Ryan, congrats for your baby! He is beautiful :) advertory is part of Techstars/azure Seattle right now. We want to change our information architecture, which presently is in silos (data-based) into a user-centric IA (job-based). Do you know a great UX designer with rapid prototyping skills (balsamiq, axure...) please? Thank you! anne

    I’m posting this as a public answer for two reasons. 1. I’m hoping that if anyone in the Seattle area that qualifies sees this, they’ll reach out to you. 2. I actually get this question a lot. Like, a lot a lot. While the network of UX practitioners is fairly well-connected, right now there’s a tremendous amount of demand for what is in reality a very small community. I wish I could be of help, but this is a problem that quite a large number of organizations (of all sizes) are facing. User experience expertise is highly sought after, and there aren’t enough designers to fill the need.

    Best of luck.

  • January 25, 2012 11:55 pm
    Dash (by rcarver)

    Dash (by rcarver)

  • October 15, 2011 11:56 am
    Feeding Dash his first solid food. View high resolution

    Feeding Dash his first solid food.

  • September 21, 2011 10:49 pm

    Anonymous asked: Cliche, but what have you learned about love in the past year?

    My friend Ryan Carver took a picture of me holding my newborn son a few minutes after his birth. I like to think it captures both of us at a moment of awakening - both of our lives have just begun. Until that moment we had never met, but I felt as though I had been waiting my whole life to meet him. I loved him instantly and unreservedly.

    I have learned this year that there are many types of love, and that the presence of this child in our lives has changed and deepened the love I have for my wife, and for my family as a whole.

  • September 16, 2011 12:54 pm
    joshuakaufman:  What's the single most important business decision you've ever made?

    I think the most important business decision I’ve made in my career thus far has been to never make anything resembling a business decision*. Without realizing it, from the very start I have trusted in relationships and circumstance to provide the right opportunity at the right time.

    I wrote the sentences above not entirely sure if they were correct. In order to prove it to myself, I wrote out the story of how I got to where I am (included below). It might only be interesting to me, but I think it pretty clearly establishes how much of what’s happened has been dictated by the people in my life, with a significant amount of chance thrown in for good measure.


    How I Got Here:

    Kristen Meuter** introduced me to Ryan Hoguet

    Ryan Hoguet got me hired at Sapient. 

    At Sapient I met Alder Yarrow and Zack Gottlieb

    I also met Bob Skubic, Shawn Collins and Pascal

    Alder Yarrow brought me to Tokyo to open Sapient Japan’s offices. 

    Sapient Japan fell apart in the Dot Com Bust, so I became a professional cook***. 

    Three years later, when technology consulting heated up again, Zack Gottlieb got me hired at MetaDesign. 

    MetaDesign got weird, but Alder Yarrow came along and hired me to work on HomeDepot.com. 

    At HomeDepot.com I got to work with Ryan Hoguet, Bob Skubic and Shawn Collins again. 

    Bob Skubic found out that Adaptive Path was hiring from his old Studio Archetype colleague, Peter Merholz

    Peter Merholz and I had met years before, at the second Fray Day party, back when I wrote a blog called Gangcandy. 

    Peter Merholz hired me at Adaptive Path, where Shawn Collins (who also had known Peter from Studio Archetype) sometimes contracted. 

    At Adaptive Path I met Jeff Veen, Bryan Mason and Lane Becker

    I started a new blog, and called it Second Verse. 

    Lane Becker created a program called New Ventures to provide Adaptive Path’s UX consulting to startups. 

    My first New Ventures client at Adaptive Path was Sphere, led by Tony Conrad

    The visual designer for Sphere was Kristen Meuter, who by that time had moved in with me. 

    Working on Sphere changed my entire perspective on product design for startups. 

    Lane Becker left Adaptive Path to start GetSatisfaction, so I led the New Ventures program for a while. 

    I left Adaptive Path to work on a startup of my own. 

    But first I got married to Kristen Meuter and had a nice honeymoon in Buenos Aires. 

    I forgot to mention that I went to high school with Jason Shellen

    Post-Adaptive Path, Jason Shellen hired me to work at his post-Google startup, Plinky. 

    I left Plinky after about 4 months, unsure on what I’d do next. 

    I started doing what I liked best, helping startups design products, and built that into a consultancy called Second Verse. 

    Jeff Veen and Bryan Mason were nice enough to let me work out of their space while I got my consultancy up and running. 

    Tony Conrad called me up and asked me to help him put some ideas together for a new startup.

    I ran my small consultancy for a year while Tony Conrad and I put the pieces together for what we called Pumpkinhead. 

    That included hiring Shawn Collins and Pascal while Tony Conrad made a series of heroic negotiations to turn Pumpkinhead into about.me. 

    Mike Arrington told us to let users reserve their names during our private beta. 

    We couldn’t open publicly to everyone because we couldn’t scale fast enough to meet the demand. 

    When we were finally ready, we opened to the public. 

    Four days later, we were acquired by AOL. 

    Tony Conrad and I run the team together inside AOL to this day.

    The words “coincidentally” could easily go in front of a half-dozen of the sentences above. Things just sort of always worked out, even when they didn’t look like they were going to. I have put faith in people, and relationships - perhaps a foolish amount of faith, to be honest - to put me in the right place at the right time. I count myself fortunate to have befriended so many amazingly talented and driven individuals, and for the fact that they have so unselfishly shared such tremendous opportunities to grow, both personally and professionally.

    * That’s a bit of a trite fiction - of course I’ve made business decisions. I’ve hired, I’ve fired, I’ve purchased and sold. But I like to think that the most important decisions I’ve made have come from a very personal place, rooted in the things I believe are important. Almost all of those things revolve around how I relate to others.

    * How I met Kristen, and wound up marrying and starting a family with her, is a story for another day.

    ** The second best business decision I ever made was to leave technology completely for a number of years, and indulge my desire to cook professionally. I left behind my entire life, trained hard, busted my ass, and gained a new perspective on life that has been absolutely invaluable.

  • August 24, 2011 2:30 pm
    rickwebb:  What's the most unexpected scary thing about parenting so far?

    I’m gonna split this into two answers:

    1. The absolute scariest event that’s happened thus far was the baby’s delivery. During labor, Dash had managed to get his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. The OB was calm and methodical, got him delivered, and gingerly cut through the the cord - only to realize that he had managed to get it wrapped twice somehow. She snipped again and he was whisked away to the pediatrician, who got his breathing and heart rate stabilized.

    Through all of this, I was standing at Kristen’s bedside, holding her hand, hoping that my face didn’t convey how terrified I was, or how helpless I was to ease the trauma my wife or my baby had just experienced.

    2. The most persistently scary thing about fatherhood is the generalized anxiety. We were celebrating Dash’s first month, and Kristen and I actually high-fived when we realized we’d kept the baby alive for 4 weeks. It sounds ridiculous if you haven’t had a child, but the reality is that most first time parents spend an awful lot of time thinking “holy cow how do I prevent this small helpless creature from starving/getting hurt/going missing?!” Most of this anxiety is misplaced (e.g. the best sign that you’ll be a good parent is a willingness to admit that you have no idea what you’re doing) but you don’t realize that till the kid starts gaining weight and looking slightly less fragile.

    If you’re a dad, that anxiety eventually transfers itself from the baby’s immediate survival to questions like, “do I need to set up a 529 account now?” and “we should really start thinking about preschools.” It’s good that you’re thinking about these things, because they will distract you from the realization of how useless you are at soothing the child when he is inconsolable. You can change him, rock him, shush him, swaddle him, give him a bottle, and burp him (and you absolutely should do all of these things as often as possible, because it’s awesome) but you will never be able to calm him down the way mom can.

    As terrible as feeling useless can be, the whole experience is still pretty incredible.

  • August 22, 2011 1:53 pm
    bustr:  What are you most afraid of accidentally becoming/doing if you aren't diligent about proactively preventing it from happening?

    I’m terrified of actually becoming as cynical as I used to present myself, when I was younger and so dreadfully insecure. I don’t know if diligence can ward it off - I like to think I have a talent for managing risk, and taking a default perspective that it’ll all end in tears hasn’t really worked against me over the years.

    That said, I think my boy deserves a father who’s convinced that everything will work out beautifully, regardless of the odds against. The grand beauty of life is that the bits between its beginning and end can pleasantly surprise you.

  • August 8, 2011 12:11 pm

    Work In Progress: An update to 35 in 35

    My 36th birthday approaches, a bit more quickly than I’m entirely comfortable admitting. I wrote a post last year around this time about some of the things I’d learned - it was a cathartic experience to put it out into the world. The response was more than I’d anticipated (it’s been liked and re-blogged more than 1,000 times).

    After some careful consideration, I’ve decided to update the post for my 36th birthday. Since that post was based on an article format from old Esquire magazines (of which I am a fan), I decided the update should be done in another favorite format: Playboy’s 20 Questions interview.

    The only problem? I can’t really interview myself. That’s where you come in. If you liked “35 Lessons,” please consider this an invitation to ask me a question, any question, about this year (it’s been a big one: fatherhood, homeownership, sold a company), or about life, or about where the hell to find a decent pint in San Francisco. I’ll combine any questions I get with some of my own.

    If you don’t feel like using tumblr’s ask form, you can always shoot a question to @ryanchris on Twitter (that’s me). I’m not so arrogant to assume that people have a ton of questions, but I’d love to give this a shot. Let me know what you think.

  • June 20, 2011 9:39 am
    Meet my newborn son, Dashiell Christopher Freitas. Born June 14th, 2011, 6 lbs 14 oz, 19.5 inches. We call him Dash.
(via second verse. tumbling.)

    Meet my newborn son, Dashiell Christopher Freitas. Born June 14th, 2011, 6 lbs 14 oz, 19.5 inches. We call him Dash.

    (via second verse. tumbling.)