Rising Star Chef Ian Palazzola of Mourad - Biography

San Francisco, CA

May 2016

When Virginian Ian Palazzola turned 14, he got his work permit and a humble start cooking at a retirement home. He loved it, and after high school Palazzola kept cooking, honing skills and having a ball cooking at mom-and-pop joints. After a year, he headed back to school, enrolling at Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta. During this time and after graduation, Palazzola worked at white-tablecloth behemoth Rathbun’s, for Rising Stars alum Kevin Rathbun. Under Rathbun’s tutelage, Palazzola learned speed and professionalism at a breakneck pace of 500 covers a night.

Tired of the strain, and after rising to sous chef, Palazzola moved on to work at Restaurant Eugene for Linton Hopkins, who also became a mentor. Serving a manageable 150 covers, Palazzola learned to wield tweezers and cook with care and artistry. He also gleaned the importance of developing relationships with farmers, which infl uences the way he cooks today.  

Moving out of his Southern comfort zone, Palazzola went west to Aspen’s Th e Little Nell, where he met a third mentor in Robert McCormick, for whom he worked as sous chef for three years. In 2014, Palazzola moved further west and started as one of four sous chefs at Mourad Lahlou’s eponymous Bay Area fi ne-dining temple. Ten months in, Mourad received a Michelin star, and soon after, Palazzola was promoted to chef de cuisine, commanding the spice pantry of Morocco with hints of his Southern roots shining through.