While still in his 20s, Polcyn honed his skills at two of Michigan’s most prestigious restaurants, The Golden Mushroom under Certified Master Chef Milos Cihelka and The Lark. He created four of Michigan’s most prominent restaurants before opening the Forest Grill in Birmingham, Michigan.
In 1987, he debuted at Pike Street Restaurant in Pontiac, Michigan. Within weeks, food critics were heaping kudos on Chef Polcyn and his culinary team. In 1990, he premiered Chimayo, Michigan’s first restaurant featuring authentic Southwestern cuisine. Three years later, he created Acadia, an area trendsetter specializing in foods cooked over various hard woods.
Polcyn opened Five Lakes Grill in Milford in 1995 and it has been going strong for well over a decade. His devotion to culinary excellence and supporting local purveyors has made him a culinary icon in Michigan and in the United States.
In 2000 Chef Polcyn was prominently featured in Michael Ruhlman’s widely read book, “The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection”. That takes the reader through Chef Polcyn’s grueling weeklong Certified Master Chef practicum and exam at the Culinary Institute of America. Chef Polcyn and Ruhlman teamed up in 2005 to publish “Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing.” “Charcuterie” was also nominated for a James Beard Award.
With a growing demand for Chef Polcyn’s gastronomical expertise and rumors of his return to the heart of Oakland County, mainly the Birmingham area; Chef Polcyn’s pursuit of a second restaurant came to fruition in the summer of 2007. Forest Grill opened its doors in the summer of 2008. The location was right, it was the right time, and now he has the right team for the Birmingham Forest Grill project. The Forest Grill is an American bistro that provides fine food to its neighbors and guests. It incorporates elements of traditional European cooking techniques, modern American cuisine, and exceptional ingredients.
Chef Brian has been featured in local and national publications, including The New York Times, The Detroit News, Atlantic Monthly, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Playboy, Detroit Hour Magazine, The Detroit Free Press and Wine Spectator. His numerous awards include three gold medals and a silver medal from The American Culinary Federation. The Hiram Walker Corporation recognized him as a “Rising Star in American Cuisine.” In 1990, he was first runner-up in the semi-annual American Culinary Gold Cup Bocuse d’Or, which is a competition that seeks America’s top native-born chefs. Five Lakes Grill won best restaurant in 2005. Chef Polcyn was also nominated for Best Chef Midwest in 2006 by the James Beard Foundation. He has cooked several times at the James Beard House in New York City, participates at the Traverse City Epicurean Classic, and the StarChefs International Chefs Congress.
In 2012 Chef Polcyn and Ruhlman published the follow up book to “Charcuterie” called “Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing.” That same year Polcyn began taking his Charcuterie teaching on the road with Cured Cuisine, where he passes on his knowledge to other chefs and foodies.
Chef Polcyn is also a faculty member at Schoolcraft College where he teaches charcuterie and does consulting at Garden Fresh in Ferndale, MI. He is also involved with many local charities, such as Michigan Chefs Against Hunger, Share Our Strength, Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan, and National charities like the Taste of the NFL. Giving back to the community means a lot to him.
Chef Polcyn and his wife Julia, have five children. He enjoys spending time with his family. When he is not in the kitchen, at school or with his family you can find him riding his Harley Davison all around metro Detroit.