With about a month before Tribute is set to open, the restaurant just announced that it has replaced exec chef Brandon Baltzley with Lawrence Letrero.
The chef who took over Mado last November and then walked out with his entire staff a month later, was set to open Tribute at the Chicago's Essex Inn hotel on Michigan Avenue. He has been tweeting for many weeks about the American-inspired menu he'd been planning, but this afternoon, a press release went out announcing that Letrero was the new exec chef without a mention of Baltzley's departure.
Based on recent tweets on Baltzley's feed, it sounds like the tattooed chef may have relapsed into drug use. He wrote, in a series of tweets just now, "I'm getting sober people, tranquillo. My last year in NYC was spent in church basements talking with other addicts. We opened 6th St and it was great. Dropped the ball 8 months later... nothing new. All will be good. Good luck to those guys. They fucking rock." Yesterday, Baltzley tweeted that his "septum has been deviated" and asked, "Who wants to babysit me for 14 days?" Eater got in touch with Baltzley just now and asked if he was going to rehab. "Trying too. It's hard financially," he said. "Seeing what I can do."
Letrero had already been working on the team under Baltzley and will continue "with what has been a collaborative menu," according to a spokeswoman for Tribute. She also said she hadn't heard anything about drugs, and that Baltzley and the Tribute team parted amicably today. Letrero worked at Karyn's on Green and at Perennial under Ryan Poli.
· Brandon Baltzley and Team Leaving Mado Over Money Issues [~EChi~]
· Tribute Names Brandon Baltzley as Chef at Forthcoming Chicago's Essex Inn Restaurant [~EChi~]
[Photo: Brandon Baltzley; Lawrence Letrero]