Rising Star Chef Ryan Pollnow of Aatxe - Biography

San Francisco , CA

May 2016

Northern California native Ryan Pollnow worked as a dishwasher and banquet cook while studying criminal justice with plans to become a highway patrolman. But he fell in love with the lifestyle and natural camaraderie of cooks. Influenced by his comrades on the line and memories of cooking Thanksgiving gravy with his grandmother, Pollnow graduated from Santa Rosa Junior College’s School of Culinary Arts in 2005, and he set off for the Basque region of Spain to stage at Mugaritz. Returning to the States, Pollnow moved to San Francisco for a job as sous chef under Randy Lewis at Mecca. His next move took him to Sonoma and Jackson Family Wines, where he had firsthand access to a four-acre, organic farm.

After nearly four years, Pollnow moved back to the Bay Area, taking up the sous chef position at Il Cane Rosso under Lauren Kiino. From there, he joined the Rising Stars alum Thomas McNaughton’s Ne Timeas Restaurant Group as chef de cuisine of flour + water in the Mission District; in 2013, he took on the same role at Central Kitchen. During this time, Pollnow earned a spot on Zagat’s San Francisco “30 Under 30” list. In December 2014, Pollnow opened Aatxe as executive chef and partner in Ne Timeas. In 2015, Aatxe was named one of Bon App├ętit’s “Top 50 Best New Restaurants” and in 2016 Pollnow was a semifinalist for James Beard’s “Rising Star of the Year” and named a “Rising Star Chef” by The San Francisco Chronicle.