At 4 a.m., chef Ricardo Lory, known locally as Chef Global, starts his daily shift. He’s making his secret 34-ingredient marinade that goes with everything—including the crispy chicken sandwich that put him on the map in post-pandemic Naples. Around 5 or 6 a.m., you’ll find him sneaking in a workout at Naples’ Athletica Health & Fitness after dropping off an order of grab-and-go healthy meals for the gym’s clients. By 10 a.m., he may be strolling the fields at Immokalee State Farmer’s Market or meeting with fishers from Dilly’s Fish Co. to source day-boat ingredients for his menus. “Nothing closer to our backyards,” he notes. Later, he might build a personalized meal plan for clients, including MLB outfielder Max Kepler and former NFL wide receiver Michael Walker.
And though it’s only been four years since the multihyphenate earned his associate’s degree from Keiser University, one could say it’s been a lifelong trajectory to a career in the culinary arts. A first-generation Haitian-American, who grew up helping in his parents’ restaurants, Ricardo put himself through culinary school in Tallahassee, working three jobs and sleeping on a friend’s couch for a year. “It was a real humbling experience,” he says. “In my culture, we’re not supposed to ask for help. You just do whatever you need to do to get there.”
Before Ricardo launched his meal-prep and to-go company, Chef Global’s Kitchen, and two eponymous food trucks, he developed a love for international flavors as a cook for The Walt Disney Company and later on a cruise line. “I remember sitting outside, and there were people at the table from South Africa, Zimbabwe, India, Norway, Japan,” he says. “It was so much to take in. And it helped set the stage for learning more about other cultures.” The budding chef was inspired to travel the world, learning to cook heritage foods from local chefs. He traveled to 17 countries—to Italy to make pasta, to Mexico to master tortillas—in less than two years.
In September, he bought a catering business, Creative Catering Naples, inheriting a full kitchen for private parties and events. Still, he’s poured his focus into meal preps that allow the fitness-centric chef to tailor each menu based on the client’s goals and lifestyle. “I’m really giddy about this one,” Ricardo says. “I’m going to give you what you want while meeting your goals. Are you trying to lose 30-40 pounds, but you don’t like broccoli? Then, I won’t give you broccoli; I’ll find other ways to help you lose weight.” He strives to source locally, including produce from Immokalee farms and prime cuts from Jimmy P’s Butcher Shop & Deli. And his global influence is sure to shine through with healthy takes on comfort dishes, like his food truck’s famous teriyaki chicken bowl, with baked protein and cauliflower rice for a lower carb count.
Despite the long hours and dizzying schedule, the 24-year-old Ricardo is an enthusiastic man whose lust for life is rarely eclipsed. He exudes joy when talking about cooking for others and has only gratitude in his voice when he mentions his alarm going off at 4 a.m. every day. “It’s easier to keep going than to stop,” he says. “I would do this for free if I could; this is the most fun I’ve had in my entire life.”