It's been more than two years since Jason Vincent has run a professional kitchen, but tonight's the night that time away ends. Giant, the former Food & Wine best new chef's first restaurant, opens for the first time at 5 p.m. And Vincent is nervous.
"I'm terrified," he says when asked how he feels on opening day. "Big butterflies—Godzilla-sized butterflies—are jumping out of my stomach."
Part of the reason that he's nervous is opening a restaurant that you own is understandably different than opening a restaurant that someone else owns. But another reason is that Vincent is trying to implement a new restaurant ethos with his staff at Giant, one that moves away from the old "chef says this" model to one that gives both front- and back-of-the-house staff more freedom.
"There's so much with the old restaurant culture that doesn't work anymore—now is the opportunity to spend a lot of the culture on the employees," he says. "The zeitgeist is shifting and we have to be at the forefront of it." What customers will notice, he says, is "ideally a happy staff."
In addition to hopefully a happy staff, customers will also notice a tiny, creative restaurant designed by Siren Betty Design. They'll also notice a menu filled with quintessential Jason Vincent food—responsibly Midwestern-raised meats and vegetables put together in creative ways, as well as house-made pastas and baked goods. Take a look around here and read the menu here.
Jason Vincent is back starting tonight. Will his first restaurant be everything he hopes?
Giant, 3209 W. Armitage Ave., opens at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.