Rising Star Chef Ryan Pfeiffer of Blackbird - Biography

Chicago, IL

May 2018

Born in Chicago’s south suburbs, Ryan Pfeiffer thought he would become a school teacher but found he preferred the kitchen as classroom. For three and a half years, Pfeiffer shadowed his mentor Chef Tim Bucci, a Joliet Junior College professor and a World Culinary Olympics gold medalist, competing in American Culinary Federation competitions around the country. Pfeiffer then moved to California and spent the first half of his professional career living and working in unconventional classrooms: on vineyards, farms, and wherever the opportunity to cook arose. Then he found Blackbird.

Before finding a home at Paul Kahan’s landmark restaurant, Pfeiffer staged at two three-Michelin-star restaurants, L2O and Manresa. He entered the kitchen at Blackbird in 2013 and rose to chef de cuisine by 2015. Education and mentorship became an important aspect of Pfeiffer’s role in the kitchen. In the past few years, Pfeiffer and Kahan have refreshed the palate of the 20-year-old Chicago institution, and Blackbird is as busy as ever. Pfeiffer cooks and comports himself without pretense, and his culinary voice is as clear and defined as they come—French-leaning and personal with a twinkle of mischief.

Blackbird was awarded “Restaurant of the Year” in 2016 at the Jean Blanchet Awards, and in 2017, Business Insider listed Blackbird among the “50 Best Restaurants in America.”