Last week, Eater talked to Chuy Valencia about his forthcoming book, M.E.A.L.S.: Menus, Entrees, Anecdotes, Lies and Some Truth to Protect the Innocent and Equally Evil and Advantageous That Helped Me Out Along the Way. At the time, he mentioned he was in the process of selling his shares in Chilam Balam to partner Soraya Rendon, but that the deal wasn't 100 percent finalized legally and didn't want to talk about it publicly yet. Apparently it's gone through because Valencia said he's moving on.
Valencia said he's leaving the kitchen in good hands with Natalia Oswald, his sous chef who he said, "is an amazing chef ... better than me." He added that Chilam Balam will "stay in great hands and [Rendon and Oswald] work really well together. They're both very strong passionate women."
Valencia is leaving to partner with interactive agency Doejo founder (and coffee shop entrepreneur) Phil Tadros to open a chef-driven cafeteria concept where diners can get classic dishes like a patty melt, beef stroganoff, meat loaf and also modern items mixed in. He said the new company may possibly be called Ursa (as in major and minor) and may call the restaurant Ursa Finer Foods or Ursa Lunch Counter. Valencia said they're looking for a location in East Lakeview, but while an exact spot has not yet been secured, Eater hears the restaurant will be near the intersection of Broadway and Briar.
Valencia added that this concept will tie into Tadros' forthcoming Bow & Truss coffee roasting house and that they want to eventually bring the concept, which may also include a brewery named Strange Pelican, to other cities, like San Francisco where, he said, they own a property.
So why is the Top Chef Texas contestant leaving his well-respected Mexican restaurant? "It's just sometimes partnerships are a little, well, you know ? difficult to say the least," He said. "I couldn't have done what I did without my partner, but now I'm ready for a new chapter in my life. I just turned 26 and I have a long career ahead of me if I start making the right moves now. This is the grown up Chuy. I did some fucked up shit before, but now it's time to grow up."
· Chuy Valencia Pursues New Restaurant Concept, Book Deal [Red Eye]
· Noble Tree Shutters; Bow & Truss Roasting Coming [~EChi~]
[Photo: Chilam Balam]