It looks like things will really heat up in the kitchen at the forthcoming Baume & Brix as exec chef Thomas Elliott Bowman is getting the band back together. Bowman, who was exec chef at iNG, has recruited iNG chef de cuisine Nate Park and Moto exec pastry chef Ben Roche to join him at the new River North restaurant.
Eater talked to Bowman who said Roche is coming on board as co-exec chef while Park will be the chef de cuisine. Why two exec chefs? "Four hands are better than two," Bowman said. "Ben and I have always worked well together and the way we work is we have ideas and each expands on the other's ideas and makes it better than it was before."
Like Roche, Bowman also has a pastry background so the two will collaborate on both the hot side and pastry piece of the menu. Park, who was Bowman's sous chef at Otom and iNG, brings a lot to the team and will be great support for Bowman and Roche. "He's a great leader," Bowman said. Mario Catayong, who worked with the team at the Fulton Market restaurants and was most recently at Arami, will head up the beverage program.
The globally inspired menu will be elevated, but a lot more approachable and affordable for everyday dining where everything, save the chef's table, is $24 or under, Bowman said. "Food is fun, it's playful. That's the attitude we all have toward it," he added. "We want fine dining in a less stuffy atmosphere. It's modern for the masses—everything is affordable. We want it to be a place people can eat three times a week and not feel bad."
Roche and Park end their tenure at Moto and iNG on Aug. 25 and will begin shortly thereafter at Baume & Brix. Their longtime boss, Homaro Cantu, is extremely supportive of their move. "I think it's a good move for them," said Cantu, who calls Roche one of the most creative chefs he's ever known. "It's sad to see them go, but I try to groom entrepreneurs. I always support people when they go out and do their own thing. We need innovation. It's exciting."
Meanwhile, Cantu will hire five more chefs for a total of 20 in the Moto kitchen and three more for a total of 10 at iNG. He will also take a greater hands-on role on a daily basis in the kitchen at iNG as well. "I'll be working on the line. It's not like I can just find a guy to do flavor tripping tasting menus," he said. "It's been like three years since I've been on the line full time. The only reason I stopped was to manage the growth of the restaurants, but now Moto is in a very good place." Cantu said he's looking forward to getting back into the kitchen, both for physical and mental reasons. "I think I really need to because I've put on like 10 pounds over the last 10 years so I have to work it off," Cantu said with a laugh.
The buildout at Baume & Brix should be complete by the end of August and will train staff while awaiting their liquor license. Owner Steve Tavoso (Epic) said they hope to be open officially by the middle of September.
· Epic Owner, Former iNG Chef Team for Baume & Brix [~EChi~]