Chicago’s Presidio, the Bucktown restaurant and craft cocktail lounge, welcomed Nicole Bayani to the role of executive chef. Her forthcoming menu will draw inspiration from the restaurant’s commitment to creating seasonally driven dishes that are vibrant, flavorful and rich in both presentation and execution.
Under Bayani, Presidio will feature a mix of the restaurant’s signature menu items, along with new dishes that draw inspiration from the Northern region of California. “In the winter, we’ll serve things that are warming and comforting, stews, braises, and root vegetables,” says Bayani. “Summer and spring will focus more on produce; and light, refreshing, flavors and dishes.” Guests can enjoy Bayani’s dishes beginning in January, prior to a full menu update in early winter.
Most recently the chef de cuisine at Scofflaw, Bayani joins the team at Presidio following stints at acclaimed Chicago restaurants including Yusho in Logan Square and the Michelin-starred Tru. “It’s important that I cook dishes that are an extension of me,” Bayani says. “I’ve always been incredibly self-motivated and largely self-taught. Throughout my career, I’ve sought out opportunities that I can learn from and channel my experiences into my menu and dishes. I’m very much looking forward to starting the next chapter of my career with the team at Presidio.”
A San Diego native, Bayani she knew from an early age that she wanted to be a chef citing her grandfather and mother as sources of inspiration. After graduating from Antioch College in 2008, she jumped headfirst into the culinary world. With no formal training, Bayani proactively set out to learn as much as she could by training in kitchens and studying technique from some of the city’s most notable chefs. Following stints as kitchen manager and line cook at Chicago restaurants like La Sardine and Dusek’s Beer and Board, Bayani was hired as a sous chef at Yusho. As part of the opening team, she helped the restaurant gain national acclaim, including a Bib Gourmand award from the Michelin Guide.
In her spare time, Bayani loves dancing, listening to Rockabilly, 40s Jump Blues and R&B. She spends her time dining out and investing her time and energy into furthering her culinary education by exploring other restaurants in Chicago. Bayani lives in Avondale with her American Bull Terrier.