Ryan Pollnow, NTRG Partner + Executive Chef of Aaxte


1. What’s your scariest recurring work-related dream? Alarm clock sounds like the expo ticket machine. When you snooze as much as I do, that can be a jarring way to wake up.

2. What has been your favorite experience at Ne Timeas thus far? When your co-workers and bosses become your partners and friends, there’s too many good memories to choose one!

3. Aaxte’s Spanish focus was inspired by the time you spent studying and working in Spain. If you were to open another restaurant centered around a different cuisine, what would it be? I love Mexican cuisine as well, but have no experience cooking it professionally. If time and resource limitations didn’t exist, I’d have a casual Mexican concept that I’d research through bi-annual trips to various regions of Mexico. The decor would be traditional-San Francisco taqueria and no one would ever know who’s behind the stoves.

4. What’s your happiest “food moment”? Cooking Thanksgiving dinner with my grandmother as a kid.

5. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Professional baseball player. It still could happen, right…right?

6. What’s your go-to cocktail? Doesn’t have a name, but my favorite cocktail is something I created from what I have in my home bar, and consists of 1 ounce Manzanilla Sherry, 1 ounce Cocchi Torino, half-an-ounce Cynar, and half-an-ounce Montenegro. Stirred and served up with a lemon expression. But if I’m out, you’re likely to see a Negroni in my hand.

7. What’s your dream day off? Camping gear and a cooler of Txakolina Rose is packed in the car. Stop at the Marin farmers market and pick up supplies in the morning. Head straight to the Sonoma Coast and find a camp site with no cell reception. Build a fire and cook as the sun sets.

8. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? Growing up in Novato, I took the only job offered to a 14-year-old kid. It was at a private pool and tennis club, collecting dirty gym towels, washing, folding, and stocking. It wasn’t hard work, but I hate doing laundry…and I basically did other people’s laundry for hours each day.

9. Guilty-pleasure food you’re embarrassed to admit you love? Cheap pizza by the slice. I used to get out of flour + water at one or two in the morning, and after serving some of the best Neapolitan-style pizza in San Francisco, I’d stop at my neighborhood spot and crush a slice of the greasiest, guilty-pleasure gut bombs.

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