Chef Perry & Co.
For Perry Pollaci, hospitality and cooking has been in his life since an early age. Hailing from New York, Pollaci’s grandfather worked for President Jimmy Carter, and his parents owned restaurants throughout Long Island and Queens. Pollaci has served under some of the country’s most accomplished chefs, and his education and travel has taken him around the nation and around the world. Patrons of Firefly will adore what he’s brought back with him, as he’s lent a decidedly international accent to Firefly’s contemporary American bistro cuisine since joining the restaurant team as Executive Chef.
A Culinary Institute of America (CIA) graduate, Pollaci first served under Michael Mina at Aqua San Francisco during his CIA externship. He returned to New York to work for Executive Chef Richard Farnabe at the Meatpacking District ultra-lounge, Lotus. Over the next several years, he worked at key New York restaurants including Town (under Cooks or Cons’ Geoffrey Zakarian), Bouley, and Bar Blanc (under Cesar Ramirez), as well as a stint traveling through Europe visiting and working at restaurants La Tour D’ Argent (Paris), Senderens (Paris) and Restaurante Arce (Madrid) and as a private chef in Southampton, NY.
Pollaci came to Los Angeles to serve as a Tournant (a “roundsman”) to Executive Chef Walter Manzke at Church & State, but quickly ascended to sous chef then chef de cuisine at Patina Group’s Founder’s Room and Walt Disney Hall Café under Executive Chef David Feau. There, he ran two kitchens simultaneously and created monthly seasonally inspired menus.
Then, as chef de cuisine at the stately Langham Huntington Hotel, he assisted in the rebranding and relaunch of The Royce Wood-Fired Steakhouse, bringing the revived restaurant to prominence by designing and creating menus, hosting the chef’s table, wine dinners, and holiday events. Time Out LA called his one of their “Best Chef’s Tables,” and Men’s Journal recently published his trufflicious recipe for Veal Carpaccio with Black Truffle Ice Cream and Shaved Australian Black Truffle.
Along the way, Pollaci competed in two seasons of The Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen, originally in Season 3 in 2014, winning the challenge for “Life’s a Mystery…Meat,” and again in Spring 2016 for the champions’ “Time Warp Tournament,” winning the 1960s episode. He has also supported a number of food related charities, most recently the Slideluck Supper Club, a mash-up potluck dinner and photography exhibition to benefit a local after-school arts program, and he was the chef for The National Multiple Sclerosis Society Los Angeles Dinner of Champions.
Pollaci promises a gradual evolution of the Firefly menu, updating customer favorites while steadily introducing his own new dishes. He explains, “I tried to make the menu very accessible. There is something for everyone, you can get something light and refreshing like our Hamachi sashimi with tofu, hearts of palm, and smoked honmeji mushrooms, or something more robust like our pappardelle with lamb shoulder and merguez sausage.
I want the menu to reflect range and for what serves the restaurant and our guests. For example, we have a grilled octopus with squid ink-glazed potatoes with bordelaise, charred piquillo peppers, hummus, and tapenade. The dish is very Mediterranean. We added a charcuterie board with house made rillette and chicken liver mousse. I love classic French food but also really like hummus so I try to meet somewhere in the middle.” He’s already taken a full turn through Firefly’s brunch menu.
Perry concludes, “Here I have a lot of freedom at Firefly to experiment and act, from small but important things like ordering chef jackets to looking at flat ware and plates—as well as evolving the menu and working with various farmers and purveyors. I can see a long way down the road here and I’m looking forward to bringing our guests along with me on the journey.”