Ryan McIlwraith(54)
San Francisco, CA


Born and raised on the coastal waters of Vancouver, British Columbia, Ryan McIlwraith always had access to the freshest seafood and he developed an appreciation and passion for it early on in his cooking career. He got his start in the restaurant industry at 19 and, shortly after, went to culinary school on Vancouver Island.

Ryan was sous chef at Vancouver's Blue Water Cafe, a restaurant well known for its unique combination of sushi and French cuisine. At age 25, he moved to New York where he was opening sous chef at Gordon Ramsey's namesake restaurant at The London NYC. The young aspiring chef staged at Café Gray (the now shuttered Eastern European and French inspired restaurant), Jean-Georges (Jean-Georges Vongerichten's critically acclaimed flagship), and Eleven Madison Park (under Daniel Humm). Ryan then moved to Las Vegas where he was sous chef at Hubert Keller's Fleur. After a year and a half, he came to Yountville, California to work at Michael Chiarello's Bottega Napa Valley, first as executive sous chef, then chef de cuisine, then culinary director. In the Spring of 2013, Ryan moved to San Francisco to open Michael Chiarello's Coqueta (as chef de cuisine).

While Ryan has a deep appreciation for French cooking technique, it's the cuisines of Italy, Asia, and Spain that inspire him the most. He's always been drawn to the style of eating in Spain: shared plates and big, bold flavors. By immersing himself in the culture (he has taken three extensive R&D trips to various regions in Spain), Ryan is able to draw from firsthand experience when creating his menu at Bellota. Stateside, he has been hugely inspired by Jose Andres (with whom he staged for two weeks in his Washington, DC-based restaurants) and Seamus Mullen (where he staged at Tertulia in New York City).