Meet the Chef: An Interview with Ian Davis of Band of Bohemia

At D’Artagnan we are thrilled to celebrate with our chefs when they receive awards and accolades. In this case, we are excited to talk to Chef Ian Davis, who helms the kitchen at Band of Bohemia in Chicago. Not only is this the first Michelin-starred brewpub in the nation, but Chef Ian was just nominated for the Rising Chef of the Year by the Jean Banchet Awards. Congratulations, chef!

Read on for more about the unusual beer-driven concept behind Band of Bohemia, and get to know Chef Ian a little.

A Special Kind of Talent

Ian Davis has always been good with his hands, but he expected that to be expressed in the boxing ring, not the professional kitchen. As an 18-year-old boxer, he broke his hand which forced him into a job as a dishwasher at a restaurant. Inspired by his kitchen buddies all heading off to culinary school, he enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America. Ultimately, his internship took him to London where he stayed for a year to work at the Mandarin Oriental.

Ian Davis at Gertrude Grill.jpg
Chef Ian at the grill – they call her Gertrude – at BoB. Photo: BoB Instagram

Once back in New York, Ian finished his education and worked for several years in some of the city’s best kitchens, like Union Square Cafe and Jean-Georges. Wanderlust prompted him to start fresh in Chicago where he worked at Tru and Blackbird until David Chang beckoned him back to NYC. Ian served as Chef de Cuisine at Momofuku from 2013-2016, and then grew nostalgic for Chicago and returned to the Windy City.

 Getting the Band of Bohemia Together

It was there that he joined the Band of Bohemia team in 2017. BoB threw Ian a new kind of challenge: building his menu to pair with the seasonal beers brewed on the premises by co-founder and brewer Michael Carroll, a chef in his own right and the former baker at Alinea.

Beer Flight - Meghan Leigh Photography.jpg

Clearly, this is a team bringing varied interests and talents to the project. Chef Ian creates dishes to pair with the flavor notes in the beer, and not the other way around. It’s a unique approach that is clearly working, with one Michelin star already and a lot of buzz surrounding Ian. We’ve been watching this rising star, and wanted to learn more about him.

Band of Bohemia Dining Room

What was the first kitchen job you held?

Dishwasher at Outback Steakhouse … Line cook at Union Square Cafe, NYC.

Has any crazy stuff happened during your time in the kitchen? What takes the gold medal?

Yes… and I plead the fifth.

Favorite music to work to in the kitchen?

If silence is not available, John Legend, Adele, or Ed Shereen.

What’s your favorite post-shift snack? Or favorite meal to cook at home?

To both questions: Hot Pockets.

What is your favorite D’Artagnan product?

Absolutely the Rohan Duck.

Spiced Rohan Duck - Meghan Leigh Band of Bohemia
D’Artagnan Rohan Duck by Ian Davis.

Name one ingredient you can’t live without … or one you’d be glad to never work with again.

I love eggs – the versatility allows me to approach the ingredient through classic recipes or in new and unique ways. Be on the lookout for our new twist on a classic French omelette.

Weirdest / most interesting ingredient you’ve ever cooked with?

We used cod sperm in a cocktail. and I was part of the tasting team. Simply put, I was apprehensive.

Best meal of your life so far?

The best meal is hard to say but when that stands out in recent memory is Oriole(Chicago) Blue Hill Stone Barns(NY), NOMA(Copenhagen).

Wild Boar Agnolotti del Plin - Roasted Chestnut - White Truffle - Pecorino BoB Ian Davis
Wild Boar Agnolotti del Plinn, Roasted Chestnuts, White Truffle, Pecorino. Photo: Ian Davis

What is your fondest food memory?

My fondest memories are together as a family bringing produce from the garden and everyone working together to clean, prep and finally sit down and enjoy a meal together.

If you could share a meal with anyone, who would it be? What would you eat?

I would love to enjoy a meal with Marco Pierre White and we would start with bodega sandwiches at a deli in Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn.

A Brooklyn bodega, photo Shawk Hoke, Flickr.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?

A marine. I’m continually inspired by the dedication and tenacity of those who defend our country.

Hungry for more? Head to the Band of Bohemia website, follow Band of Bohemia and Chef Ian on Instagram, or on Facebook.

Since 1985, D’Artagnan has been at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement, producing superior tasting products by partnering with small ranches and farms. We are committed to free-range, natural production, sustainable and humane farming practices and no use of antibiotics or hormones. That’s why D’Artagnan products have been revered by America’s most renowned chefs for over 30 years. We offer the same high-quality products to home cooks at, along with recipes and guides to help you live the tasty life.

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