Reminiscent of school alumni, Celeste ownership once said that "we constantly have our doors open for (staff) to come in and leave and come back." Well, another high-profile alumni is on the way in and one is gone, as this time ownership is bringing Amanda Barnes over from Mindy's Hot Chocolate to be the multi-level turn-of-the-century-inspired cocktail bar and supper club's new executive chef. Nick Lacasse, who came over from mfk in February to temporarily run the kitchen, is no longer involved with the restaurant.
Barnes, who Mindy Segal said was "the chef I've been looking for...to have a permanent home (at Hot Chocolate)" after her hiring in December 2014, will launch a new dinner menu at Celeste on Nov. 13. The Purple Pig, The Publican, City Tavern and Packing House alum's new dishes will include salmon skin chicharrones with hot honey and chicken-fried quail with kimchi buttermilk biscuits and giardiniera.
In a statement, Chicago's sweets queen says she's happy to have had Barnes at her acclaimed Bucktown mainstay and also announces her replacement. "HotChocolate was lucky to have Amanda Barnes for the time she spent in our kitchen," Segal says. "We are grateful to her for elevating the cuisine and we are so excited for her new position. We are also very excited to have Aaron Arnett in the kitchen as our new chef to keep the same standard that Amanda helped maintain. It's business as usual at HotChocolate."
Celeste has had an inordinate number of high-profile staff in less than two years of business, beginning with the star bartender trifecta of Josh Pearson (Sepia), Freddie Sarkis (now running The Broken Shaker), and Sterling Field (Carriage House). Highly-talented lightning-rod barman Michael Simon once headed up the beverage (he left in June), while chef Aaron Lirette, who Lacasse replaced, went on to Acadia and now runs the kitchen at the scorching hot GreenRiver. Got all that?
Check out the newest member of the Celeste alumni club's new dishes in less than three weeks.