As 2013 winds down we look back at all of the chef shuffles that have occurred over the past 12 months. There were indeed some big shockers, as well as some instances where chefs bounced from one place to the next and restaurants that had multiple turnovers in their kitchens. We recount the most significant below.
Without a doubt, the most significant exit by a chef this year had to be Mike Sheerin leaving Trenchermen less than a year after opening the restaurant with his brother Pat. Mike did some consulting at Parson's Chicken & Fish over the summer before announcing he was opening Cicchetti with Phil Rubino and Sarah Jordan as his sous chefs. Brother Pat was at the opening party for Cicchetti and it's gratifying to report that there appears to be absolutely no signs of disharmony between the two.
Sprout closed in November after a few chef changes earlier in the year, and the final one-two punch of chef de cuisine John Hagedorn leaving in October to join The Radler and Dale Levitski announcing he was resigning as executive chef there as well as at Frog 'n Snail. Levitski is now enjoying "spending time with my boyfriend, my dog and my house" and is biding his time to see what the future holds. After his father's passing earlier this year Levitski decided to re-evaluate his life to see "what makes a successful life and what doesn't" and calls the decision to leave both restaurants as "fairly heart wrenching" but that it was a "24/7 grind" and he needed a change.
The Gage and Henri had a lot of moving parts this year. First, Jason Wagner joined the restaurants and Dirk Flanigan left in January. Then Wagner left in September to go to New York and John McDaniel replaced him in November after leaving OON. Meanwhile, Peter Coenen was promoted to excecutive chef at The Gage in September. Flanigan meanwhile, continues to preview Il Coniglio, his forthcoming Italian restaurant.
Ryan Poli left Tavernita and Little Market Brasserie in October, but remains a partner in Mercadito Hospitality, which recently announced Guillermo Tellez as his replacement.
After eight years as executive chef of Spiaggia, Sarah Grueneberg announced her departure. She is seeing some of Levy Partners and Tony Mantuano's projects through before looking to open her own restaurant.
Matthew Chasseur left Alinea in May (Mike Bagale took his place) relocating to New England where he has started a family. "In the time since I have left, I began working on my next project, my thesis, if you will. I envision building an environment where a team will be able to maximize efficiency and move effortlessly to be able to execute precisely. It has been an intense, challenging and very exciting time," Chasseur states.
Andrew Brochu left The Monarch for The Aviary. Michael DeStefano took over the reigns at The Monarch. After Leopold shuttered, Michael Dean Reynolds found a home at Bread & Wine. Brian Greene was replaced by Cecilio Rodriguez at The Savoy in August. Bryan Moscatello left Storefront Company and moved to Aspen. Kevin Hickey left Allium to help revamp Dragon Ranch until he opens up his own restaurant, Duck Inn, next spring.
Eiji Takase was announced as Japonais' chef in July and then three weeks later the restaurant trumpeted the addition of Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Japonais' phone message states they've been closed since December 20. No word on if Takase, who is still listed on the restaurant's website as executive sushi chef, will be staying with the restaurant.
Tim Havidic was announced as the first executive chef at iNG in a year since Thomas Elliot Bowman left to open Baume & Brix with former iNG chef de cuisine Nate Park and Moto executive pastry chef Ben Roche. Bowman, Park and Roche all wound down their time at Baume & Brix, which closed in the wake of Roche leaving over pay issues.
Patrick Fahy left Sixteen in December and details about what he's doing next are still a mystery. Rene De Leon exited The Dawson less than a month after the restaurant's opening and what he plans on doing next is unknown as well. Christian Gosselin was replaced with Bjorn Rasmussen at The Boarding House in April and has since sprung up at Bistronomic — both restaurants are owned by the same company.
After a very rocky 2012, City Tavern felt things had been corrected by John Caputo (who had been working on another project by the restaurant's owners) and Robert Hoffman was hired to continue steering the ship. Well that didn't work out as Amanda Barnes was recently announced as the latest executive chef of the South Loop restaurant.
Boka chef de cuisine Carl Shelton moved to California, and Lee Wolen, who had recently made the decision to leave The Lobby at the Peninsula Hotel, was hired to take over for executive chef Giuseppe Tentori. Boka will close after service New Year's Eve for a remodel, and plans on reopening by February 1.
Cary Taylor left The Southern to head up Big Star after Justin Large was promoted to be One Off Hospitality's director of culinary operations. Taylor, who worked for One Off in the past says that "it was a pretty easy move to make." Big Star was a standard bearer for Taylor while working at The Southern. "If we were slow, my answer (to any excuse) would be, it's jammed at Big Star." Taylor will be making his first major stamp on the menu when he changes out five dishes in a couple of weeks. "We're going to do a torta ahogada, an extremely spicy sandwich that's going to replace the Sonoran hot dog. It's going to be drowned in this arbol and guajillo chile sauce, just like it's done in Jalisco with raw onions on top and some slowly roasted beef. A pre-hire planned vacation with his wife to the Yucatan Peninsula in a month should help with more ideas, but he's hoping that One Off will eventually want to send him to Ensenada to research its deep seafood cuisine for even more brainstorming.
Culinary superhero Chris Curren joined The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group in April and moved fast to make top down changes to their restaurants (West Town Bakery & Diner, Homestead, The Berkshire Room), transforming each into popular destination spots.
In the bar area, Liz Martinez took over as sommelier and manager at The Purple Pig. Matt Gundlach left Moto for a role in a suburban wine shop. Craig Schoettler gave up on Chicago entirely, leaving Drumbar for the Aria Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Alex Renshaw was hired at Drumbar. Dan Pilkey joined The Boarding House in January, but he wound up at Sixteen in August.
· All Chef Shuffles [~ECHI~]
· All Year in Eater 2013 Coverage [-ECHI-]