Chicago native Ryan Poli’s diverse experience includes working in some of the world’s most celebrated kitchens as well as extensive travel throughout Spain, France and Asia. His path led him to Nashville where he will assume the position of Executive Chef at The Catbird Seat. In the newest iteration of the restaurant, Poli will take diners on a culinary journey illustrating his inspirations and personal stories on the plate.
Trained in classic French and American cuisine, Poli began his career at a young age, working at esteemed restaurants such as Jean Banchet’s Le Francais and Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry. He also trained with Sergi Arola at La Broche and El Celler de Can Roca and with Chef Martin Berasategui in Spain, where Poli first fell in love with the country and its cuisine, both traditional and modern.
In 2005, Poli returned home to Chicago and established himself as a prominent player in the city’s culinary landscape when he was Executive Chef at Butter, named by Esquire magazine as one of the “Best New Restaurants” in the country.
He then went on to open several award-winning Chicago establishments, first in 2008 with BOKA Restaurant Group at Perennial, which received numerous accolades including “Best New Restaurant” from both Travel + Leisure and Chicago magazine. Poli then set his talents on Tavernita, in collaboration with Mercadito Hospitality, where he showcased his love of Spanish flavors and products infused with his culinary style.
Seeking personal growth and inspiration, Poli left Chicago to explore the world and better himself as a chef and person. His travels led him to Dan Barber’s Blue Hill Stone Barns where he worked with his team to learn about farming and the importance of the seasons. Chef Poli then moved to Denmark to work with the R&D team at the world’s premier restaurant Noma, where he learned about fermentation and the latest techniques in food and science. Rene Redezepi then offered Poli an opportunity he could not refuse, a position at the Noma pop-up in Japan.
Outside of the kitchen, Poli is involved in charitable efforts, particularly those that advocate for the hungry and provide nutrition education, support and guidance for youth. He is proud of his charity Pilot Light, which he helped to create alongside renowned chefs Paul Kahan, Matt Merges and Jason Hammel.