Rory Flynn is the executive chef and kitchen manager at Ale Mary’s in Scranton. He has held the position for three years. He is a graduate of Scranton Preparatory School and Kutztown University, where he received a degree in social work. He also received an associate degree in culinary arts at Luzerne County Community College. He and his wife, Nicole, live in Scranton.
Meet Rory Flynn …

You have degrees in social work and culinary arts. How did you end up choosing a career in cooking?
Cooking was always something I was fond of. Both of my grandmothers always cooked Sunday and holiday meals, and I was always watching and learning. After I graduated from Kutztown, I worked at the Friendship House, which basically paid for me to go to culinary school. While I worked there, I was also going to school part-time for culinary. I was also working part-time at the Waldorf, a social club up on the East Mountain. My neighbor, from where I grew up, was the head chef there, and he brought me in to learn. Even when I was at Kutztown, I talked to my parents about how I always really wanted to go to culinary school. And it even stems back to high school, when I went on a service trip Mexico, and I saw a different culture with food. Wanting to help people is what brought me on the path to social work, but food was always in the back of my head.

What do you like about it?
Seeing the enjoyment that everyone else gets by eating your food. There’s a lot more that goes into running a kitchen than just the cooking aspect, but it’s really about seeing others enjoy your food and feeling good about it. I always say my food is “feel-good food.” When you break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend and you just want to pig out, it’s the type of food you’re going to eat. (Laughs.)

What are some of your favorite items on your own menu?
I’m constantly changing it up. Right now we’re in the process of putting out a new menu, and I think we’re going back to the basics and some previous items that we had that customers have been requesting that we bring back. We used to have a chicken parm sandwich called the “Parmageddon,” which we’re putting back on. Mac and cheese is also always popular and is a house favorite, as are the pulled-pork nachos. And the wings are always a hit. We’ve won some awards. There are a lot of things people enjoy.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Relaxing. I like listening to music. I like getting tattooed. Reading. And just hanging out with my wife and my dog. The simple things.

Do you have any hobbies? Are you a collector?
Sneakers. I’m a big Vans guy. I probably have about 15 pairs.

Favorite music?
Old hip-hop, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, Rage Against the Machine, My Morning Jacket. It all depends on my mood.

Do you follow sports?
Buffalo Bills. I grew up with my father and brother being Dallas Cowboys fans, so I always rooted against them. (Laughs) And, for college, Duke basketball.

All-time favorite movie?
“The Goonies.”

Favorite city?
I don’t really like big cities. If I were to visit anywhere, it would be Jim Thorpe.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
The memories. Growing up here with family and friends. And trying to make new memories.

Favorite food?
A peanut butter and jelly sandwich with sliced bananas. When people ask me that question, that always shocks them. But I think it’s the simpler stuff that I like. That’s my favorite: chunky peanut butter, grape jelly and sliced bananas.

Favorite holiday?
Any that I get to spend with my family.

Favorite book or author?
“The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. I have a tattoo of it. Just the whole concept of the book is something I grew up with. It holds a lot of meaning to me.

Biggest pet peeve?
Things not being in place. Even in the kitchen, I always feel everything has to have a spot. Some say it’s OCD, but I think everything should have its own little place. I like to be organized.

Guilty pleasure?
Big Macs from McDonald’s.

You mentioned your dog. What type do you have?
A bulldog named Henry. He’s my right-hand man. He’s actually going to be my next tattoo.

Is there anything about you that might surprise even your friends?
With my close friends, there’s nothing that really surprises them. I always say that my close friends understand me for who I am. I guess I have two different personalities with work and outside of work. I’m a friendly outgoing person outside of work, and at work, it’s strictly business. And with my close friends, there is really nothing that would surprise them.

Have you had a moment or a time period in your life that has helped shape you into the person you are today?
My service trip to Mexico. It was just before my senior year of high school. It was my first time travelling, and it was just an eye-opener … to see how really grateful I should be for what I have. Being in Mexico City and seeing a whole different side of the world — it was just the small things that you might take for granted, that I don’t take for granted anymore. I’m very grateful for what I have.
UP CLOSE & PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at alankstout@comcast.net.

photos by emma black

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