The Ronin Family

 
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Brian Light | Executive Chef & Owner

Brian was born in Venezuela, and was raised between there, Colombia, and Houston, Texas. Both sides of his family are close-knit; he enjoyed many meals at his grandparent’s houses while growing up between the States and South America. While Brian was young, his grandfather used to always say, “every family needs a chef.” With that in his sub-conscience, Brian began working in restaurants at 16. A graduate of the University of Houston, Hilton College of Hotel & Restaurant Management, Brian then learned to cook by working in distinguished kitchens across America. Aries in Houston, Morimoto in Philadelphia, and Tramonto’s in Chicago all trained him in traditional French and Japanese techniques. After coming to College Station to work at The Republic as the Executive Chef and meeting his wife, they opened Ronin in 2012. On their family farm, he has forged a connection with farming and raising animals. He regularly discusses how farming has informed his cooking on so many levels. Brian strives to bridge the gap between farmers, professional kitchen, and community in creating a fine dining experience with approachable, seasonal food.

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Amanda Light | Owner & Operations

Born in a hurricane, Amanda moved between Florida, Texas, and Louisiana. She was raised in the professional baseball industry with a father who continues to place immense importance on guest service and experience, and a mother who always readily opens their home for friends and strangers alike. Hospitality became second nature. She began working in customer service in 1999 for the Round Rock Express, a Minor League Baseball team, while also working at restaurants in in the Austin area. She attended Texas A&M University, College of Liberal Arts, earning a B.A. in Women’s & Gender Studies. She met Brian in 2008 while working in the front of the house of The Republic. Their mutual curiosity for traveling and eating well lead to a marriage and eventually a business partnership. Since 2012 when Ronin was opened, Amanda has operated their businesses in the roles of public relations, event design and coordination, marketing/advertising, web design, accounting, front of house and employee management. She takes joy in connecting people over a hearty meal of farm foods.

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Corey Wahl | Farm Director

Corey grew up in the Northwest & transplanted himself to the great state of Texas in 2012. His interest in food and farming stems from time spent in his grandparents’ garden in his early childhood. He received a B.S. in Horticulture from Washington State University in 2010, which is where his career in farming began. During his time at WSU, Corey worked for the USDA Agricultural Research Service growing medicinal plants for germplasm research and longterm storage.  When Corey arrived in Texas an extensive job search landed him a position as farm manager at Texas A&M's student farm, The Howdy Farm. It was at Howdy Farm where Corey's passion for local and sustainably grown food blossomed. The Howdy Farm was also the avenue through which owners Brian & Amanda met Corey and developed a relationship that would eventually lead to his position as Farm Director at Ronin Farm. Corey is regularly referred to as our game changer, and El Granjero Chingon.

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Aaron Lara | Beverage Director

Aaron joins us from the most majestic city in all the land, Houston, TX. After graduating from Texas A&M University in 2007 with a degree in Political Science, Aaron developed a dear friendship with the Lights while running the bar program at The Republic (way back in 2008). Following that, he ventured to Houston, and cut his teeth at a handful of well-regarded establishments, including Anvil Bar & Refuge, The Pass & Provisions, and the infamous Bad News Bar. He became a regular fixture on the Ronin Farm when opening in 2012, and has always been eager to play a part when circumstances permit. 
When not pouring drinks or making things awkward with a poorly-told joke, Aaron enjoys surfing, cooking, listening to records, and entertaining friends in his home. He splits his time between Bryan, and Dominical, and Costa Rica, where he owns and operates a modest rental home in the jungle. Salúd!

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Travis Raabe | Sous Chef

Travis hails from Shiner, Texas where there’s never a drought (because there is plenty of beer). He grew up hunting, planting vegetables, raising chickens and cattle, while cooking with his mom and granny. In 2016, he took the passion of cooking with his family to culinary school in California at the International Culinary Center. After graduating and working in California, he decided to bring his knowledge back to Texas. His parents graduated from Texas A&M University and met at the Dixie Chicken. His mom stumbled upon Ronin while Travis was in transition from California to Texas. Shortly thereafter Travis was helping with the pigs, sanding the floors and painting the walls of the Ice House restaurant while it was under construction. Since then, he and Brian have bonded over their desire to cook food with soul. He brings a country knowledge and work ethic that has proven to be extremely vital to the growth of Ronin.

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Sam Irwin | Saucier & Honorary Farm Manager

Sam was born and raised in Austin, Texas. He grew up enjoying all of the things the great city has to offer. He joined the Ronin team in August 2015 as a member of both the front and back of the house. Sam would run set up for events during the day, and cook with Chef in the kitchen during the evenings. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University, with a B.S. in Turfgrass Science. As the restaurant was coming to fruition, he took part in construction in whatever way he could. (There is an ‘S’ sanded into our dining room wall, where Sam sanded old paint off.) After graduating, he decided to take an official position in the kitchen. Sam loves the balance of working outside paired with the rush of a kitchen. He was voted Farm Manager and Major Morale unanimously by the team.

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Amanda Jackson | Marketing & Events Director

Amanda (the other Amanda) a New York native, was born and raised in the beautiful Hudson Valley, a leaf peepers dream in the Fall. Her love for travel and food has taken her to many places around the world. She has lived in NYC, LA, SLC and Denver, working for several companies including West Elm and Ralph Lauren, plus a few start-ups in-between. After moving to College Station, she heard about a Full Moon Dinner held at Ronin, and she wanted to be a part of it. She brings over 10 years experience in large scale events and marketing to the table. If you have any interest in an event with Ronin, she will be the one to help. She adores all animals and she’ll pet every dog she meets. When not working, she goes backpacking with her boyfriend and two dogs, looking for adventure around every corner.

Eliza Young | Pastry Chef

Eliza is a College Station native, who graduated from Texas A&M University in 2014 with a B.S. in Business Management. Her passion for baking arose early, baking with her mom for their neighbors; she was 13 when she figured out pastry was the career that she wanted to pursue. She attended pastry school at The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, where she completed the program, with the highest of honors, at the top of her class. While in New York, she worked at Gotham Bar & Grill where she mastered the art of the soufflé. Upon completing school, Eliza decided to move back to Texas where her friends, family and the stars are, as she says. She was introduced to Ronin through mutually dear friends, and has been sharing her sweetness with all since the restaurant opened.

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Olivia Nelson | Marketing & Events Manager

Olivia was born and raised in the small East Texas town of Longview, where for her, the memories made around the dinner table were always the most meaningful. She is a currently student at Texas A&M University working towards a B.S. in Nutrition. She joined the Ronin family in February of 2016 and found herself surrounded by a collection of people committed to serving honest food. Working with the Lights, she developed a passion for events and recognized the unique way that the food of Ronin can bring people together, turning strangers into friends over the course of a meal. After graduating, she will be taking on the role as the resident Nutritionist at Ronin. In her free time she enjoys cooking with her husband, traveling, camping, and spending time with friends and family.

Dalton Robison | Saucier

Dalton was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and then moved between Louisiana, Texas, Illinois and Missouri. He studied music and history at Mckendree University. A jack of all trades, Dalton is also an electrical and audio engineer. With a transient childhood, his family always gathered around the dinner table no matter where they were. He credits both his dad and grandmother for his interest in cooking. That passion for cooking made him want to make a career change into the restaurant industry. Dalton began in kitchens in St. Louis as a dishwasher. He has since worked his way through the stations in the kitchen. He was cooking at Juniper in St. Louis when he decided to take the opportunity to be closer to family and to work with the folks at Ronin. Dalton has become an important part of everyday operations in the kitchen.

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Hailey Pruitt | Bar Manager

Hailey was raised in Arlington, Texas. She attended Texas A&M University for Biomedical Science (over achieving, per usual), as both of her parents were Aggies and ‘she had a choice’ in where she went to college. During her time in high school and college she worked in many bars and restaurants learning what makes one great. Each of the establishments Hailey joins, she works her way up. As a vegetarian and somebody who seeks genuine sources of foods, she has quickly become an important part of Ronin. Hailey and Aaron manage all things bar. She is very passionate about traveling, discovering other cultures, and Texas Rangers Baseball. Everybody at Ronin says Hailey is the best, and she is regularly greeted with “Hey Hay Hay” as she walks into the restaurant every day.

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