As Executive Chef for The Absinthe Group, Ryan McIlwraith collaborates with the teams at each of the group’s five unique restaurants to oversee menu development and kitchen operations. Previously Executive Chef of The Absinthe Group’s Bellota, McIlwraith joined the group in 2014 and launched the acclaimed Spanish restaurant in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood in May 2016. Under his leadership, Bellota earned numerous regional and national accolades, including three stars from the San Francisco Chronicle and restaurant of the year from Eater SF. In 2017, McIlwraith opened Barcino which is the sister restaurant to Bellota. Barcino is a welcoming neighborhood destination that draws inspiration from both the vibrant dining and drinking culture of Barcelona and the lively Hayes Valley community in which the restaurant resides.
Raised along the coastal waters of Vancouver, British Columbia, Ryan got his start in the restaurant industry at the age of 19, and shortly after, attended culinary school on Vancouver Island. After gaining an understanding of both French cooking technique and sushi at Vancouver’s well-known Blue Water Café, McIlwraith moved to New York City at age 25 to serve as opening sous chef at Gordon Ramsay’s namesake restaurant at The London NYC, which earned two Michelin stars. To deepen his understanding of the art and discipline of cooking, he staged at cosmopolitan restaurants such as Jean-Georges (Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s flagship in New York) and Eleven Madison Park (under Daniel Humm). McIlwraith has honed his skills in other acclaimed restaurants including Fleur by Hubert Keller, Seamus Mullen’s Tertulia, Boqueria NYC, Estadio in Washington D.C., and at numerous Jose Andrés concepts, including minibar, Zatinya, Jaleo, and Oyamel.
McIlwraith formerly served as chef de cuisine at Michael Chiarello’s Bottega Napa Valley, then as opening chef de cuisine at Coqueta in San Francisco. McIlwraith guided Coqueta to a Bib Gourmand in the San Francisco edition of the Michelin Guide, a 3.5-star rating from the San Francisco Chronicle, and a James Beard Foundation Award nomination for Best New Restaurant.
In his role as Executive Chef of The Absinthe Group, McIlwraith is committed to maintaining a high-caliber cohesiveness among all restaurants within the group, as well as overseeing the distinctive and unique dining and drinking experiences for which each restaurant in The Absinthe Group is known. Using his diverse background and unique culinary point of view, McIlwraith is poised to help usher The Absinthe Group into its next 20 years.