The next Intro chef was announced by Lettuce Entertain You head honcho Rich Melman last night at a media dinner in the company's test kitchen, although reports by the Tribune and Chicago magazine went out during the dinner. Aaron Martinez, recently the chef de cuisine at Michelin-starred Elizabeth (as well as San Francisco's Quince), will take over the revolving chef and concept restaurant in Lincoln Park from departing chef Erik Anderson on July 30 and stay through October 17.
Martinez stated that his reason for leaving Elizabeth was due to a "difference of opinions" as well as "different sensibilities and styles." Elizabeth owner and returning head chef Iliana Regan says, via e-mail, that Martinez is a "good chef" and "a nice guy," but that it was "not a good fit" and that "Elizabeth is too small for anyone to run the kitchen but me."
Melman originally wanted Martinez to follow CJ Jacobson and Martinez stated how thankful he was that he had a second opportunity to do it. Along with assistance from Matthew Kirkley, who is leaving LEYE at the end of the summer, Martinez put out a five-course meal that was very light and relaxed, focusing on seasonality and a meticulous plating style.
He will feature a four-course menu Tuesday through Friday and a six-course menu on Saturdays. The dishes previewed (king salmon, kohlrabi, dill, frozen mustard was a standout, see a picture below) last night in the test kitchen will be on the opening menu, but expect some changes as the seasons do.
Also announced was Stephen Gillanders, the chef who will take over for Martinez October 22 (through January 16). Gillanders is the executive chef at Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Jean-Georges Management in New York and is aiming to open a restaurant in Los Angeles in 2016.
Reservations for Aaron Martinez's time at Intro can be made starting today.