Chef Pantry | A Visit to Ryan Pollnow’s San Francisco Home


It’s no secret that experienced chefs run a tight ship in their restaurants to keep things clean and efficient. During our continued effort to clean out and reorganize our kitchens and pantries this season, we figured chefs would be the real experts to turn to for ideas about home kitchen organization. So, we asked a few of our friends (who happen to have also received Michelin ratings and James Beard awards) if we could visit their homes and see how they keep their pantries stocked and staples stored.


First up is Ryan Pollnow, a native of Northern California, just like us. After attending Santa Rosa Junior College and then culinary school in the Basque region of Spain, Ryan worked at San Francisco restaurants Flour+Water and Central Kitchen before eventually opening his own restaurant, Aatxe, which celebrates regional Spanish cuisine and culture with a Basque Country influence.

What his and girlfriend Sophie’s Lower Haight apartment lacks in size, it makes up for in colorful accents, minimalist artwork, and genius organizational strategies. Here are Ryan’s tips and tricks, plus his original recipe for Gabanzos a la Catalana, a comforting stew that comes together quickly and will make the kitchen smell amazing.

  •  Label & Date: In the professional kitchen, everything gets a label and date to assure proper product rotation. At home this is a smart practice, too, particularly with things like spices and dried herbs. The moment a spice container is opened, the flavors will slowly begin to weaken and dull. Date these products to know when it’s time to use or replace it.

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  • Uniform Container Storage: Many store-bought pantry items come in differently shaped and sized packages. Store things like dried beans, grains, and flours in stackable, uniform containers to best utilize your pantry space. I suggest washing and saving plastic deli containers from take-out orders.


  • Where to Keep Your Olive Oil: The 3 things that can really destroy a beautiful bottle of olive oil are heat, light, and air (oxygen). Many home cooks keep olive oil near the cooking range for convenience. This exposes the product to the heat from the kitchen and light. I always keep my olive oil in the coolest, darkest part of the pantry. Always covered securely. Another tip to prevent olive oil from going rancid is… USE IT, it’s delicious.


Garbanzos a la Catalana by Ryan Pollnow




  1. In a large sauce pot, heat olive oil over medium heat
  2. Add morcilla and sauté for 3-5 minutes until browned and caramelized
  3. Add crushed garlic and gently sauté for an additional 2 minutes until garlic begins to just barely caramelize
  4. Add pimenton and continue to cook for 30 seconds
  5. Add raisins and cooked chickpeas, bring to a simmer
  6. Stir in crushed tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes, season with salt
  7. When ready to serve, stir in spinach and garnish with toasted pine nuts

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Photography by Jennifer Love


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