our story

Who we are

Upper Left Catering was founded by Joshua Theilen and Shane Ryan in 2017. Joshua and Shane both have extensive hospitality experience and have worked as chefs in 5-star resorts, boutique hotels, and several of the highest rated restaurants in Seattle and
Las Vegas.


Our mission

At Upper Left Catering, our mission is to create memorable occasions by exceeding your expectations with innovative cuisine, exceptional service, and refined presentation. We focus on providing elegant and creative dining experiences that are customized in collaboration with our clients. We are passionate about sourcing the finest meat, seafood, and artisan products in the Northwest.


Letter from the chefs

We know hiring a catering company is a big and very personal decision, so here’s a bit more about us and why we started Upper Left Catering.

Welcome to Upper Left. Our name says it all—in the upper left-hand side of the country, we are proud of our fresh local food and high creative output. It’s why we live here, work here, and love it here. Our friendship started when we worked together at a catering company in 2000. We found that we collaborate well and share a high level of passion, capability, and creativity. We are always on the lookout for what’s unusual and new—we LOVE food. So, when Shane got back from living overseas a few years ago, we decided to join forces and work for ourselves.

Why catering? Because we saw an opportunity to take catering to a new level and meet the high expectations of our clients. We are always true to the service we provide. Our clients with refined palates know when they are getting the real thing, so we strive to always provide it. Catering also allows us to expand beyond the confines of restaurants. We get to cook in different settings and venues and explore ingredients and techniques from all the world’s cuisines. We weave this fresh perspective back into our menus.

Because we both come from high-end restaurants, we understand—and demand—quality food. We are craftsmen who cook from scratch, whether for an intimate gathering of friends at a San Juan cabin, or for a big, boisterous wedding.

We work well with all kinds of clients, but we love when our clients share ideas and brainstorm possibilities with us. If you are open to collaboration, and trust us to use our 40+ years of combined experience and knowledge to make the food shine, we promise to deliver a high-quality dining experience for your event.

Why choose us? Because we offer more than just food and white napkins. We love what we do and treat every event as a creative endeavor. Everything we produce is crafted with love and personalized for YOU and your event. We don’t do generic, corporate, or cookie cutter. We don’t replicate the same old thing everyone else does. Even though we offer sample menus, you’re not just picking dishes off a list when you work with us. We collaborate with you to give you the best possible food to match and complement your occasion and make it special.

We hope this gives you a better idea of who we are and what we can do for you. Don’t hesitate to give us a call to talk about your event. We’d love to opportunity to work with you.

Bon appétit!

Joshua & Shane



joshua theilen, Co-owner & executive chef

Joshua has been cooking since he was 15, including a stint in a casino/hotel in his home town in Nevada. After graduating from the culinary program at the Art Institute of Seattle in 1999, Joshua steadily rose through the kitchen ranks, from lead line cook, to executive sous chef, to executive chef. He has worked in some of Seattle's top restaurants and catering establishments, including the Pink Door, the Sorrento Hotel’s Dunbar Room (formerly Hunt Club), Restaurant Zoe, Lowell Hunt Premier Catering, and Trellis Restaurant, where he won the NorthWest Stir 2008 Young Lion Sous Chef award.

Most recently, Joshua was the Executive Chef at Stumbling Goat Bar & Bistro. For seven years, everyone from casual diners to gourmands enjoyed the fruits of Joshua's relentless pursuit of the highest-quality, freshest, local, and seasonal ingredients. His ability to craft seasonal menus with wine and cocktail pairings put Stumbling Goat on the Seattle fine dining map and left guests craving more of his thoughtful, well-crafted dishes.

Throughout his career, Joshua has continued to experiment with ingredients and cuisines and refine his recipes and menus. His cooking is truly edible art. Upper Left Catering gives Joshua an opportunity to meld his passion for fine dining with the best ingredients found in the Northwest—all with the pure goal of delighting his customers.

shane ryan, co-owner & executive chef

Shane has over 20 years of experience in the fine dining industry. His passion for food started when he cooked with his mother as a teen. At the age of 16, he started his restaurant career in the traditional way—washing dishes at Mimi’s Kitchen, a neighborhood joint. Hooked on the energy of kitchen life, Shane worked his way through culinary school by apprenticing in kitchens at some of Seattle’s premiere restaurants, including Campagne and Cascadia. Shane then headed to Las Vegas to become a chef. After a successful audition, he was hired to help run Joël Robuchon at the Mansion, a Michelin three-star restaurant.

Through a friend, Shane got an opportunity to work at Amankora, an Aman Resort in the Kingdom of Bhutan in the Himalayas, and live with his wife in the capital city, Thimphu. At Amankora, Shane learned how to cook Thai and Bhutanese, along with finessed Western food. After two years of living at high altitude, Shane and his wife were ready for some sun and sea. They moved to the Caribbean island of St Maarten, where Shane cooked for Sheer and incorporated flavors from the melting pot mix of French, African, and Dutch cooking.

Full of adventure and a wide range of tastes and techniques, Shane moved back to Seattle to take over as executive chef at Matt’s in the Market. After his years away from Seattle, Shane is happy to once again work with the amazing culinary bounty we have in the Pacific Northwest. Upper Left Catering is Shane’s vehicle for showcasing the unbeatable combination of locally sourced food and wine and his stellar cooking style.