Before we start, an observation, not a criticism: Chefs didn’t move around from restaurant to restaurant often when I cooked back in the Stone Age. But don’t believe everything you hear from some in the business who like to say employees of yore were more loyal and dedicated … all that gauzy lens nostalgic stuff that doesn’t withstand much objective scrutiny.
When the restaurant boom began here in the 1980s, chefs were backroom players, not the mini-celebrities you see now. I recall watching some of my executive chef bosses panic when invited by a guest to visit them tableside. They had no clean, spare jacket waiting in their office to put on and pretty up. Most were lucky to find a clean apron.
That’s all changed with open kitchens, the evolution of star chefs, Food Network personalities, cookbook deals, etc., because people want to know the personalities who cook their meals. There simply are more opportunities for chefs now, and with the rise in sheer restaurant numbers, these skilled professionals are in higher demand, so they’re offered more to move around. Add to that, the chance to cook something different—or even run their own places—is alluring. Those are the biggest reasons they move around quite a bit in 2017, not because they’re all disloyal.
UPDATE: Where’s Newman Miller? The chef and co-owner of Harrison-Smith House in Bardstown (which is temporarily idled) is busy opening the brand-new Star Hill Provisions restaurant at Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Ky., today, March 15. Any of you who had his amazing food at HSH can expect to be blown away by the new facility and the food. And as you’d expect, his wife, Rachel, is joining him in that operation as well.
Allan Rosenberg goes back to pizza: According to David Mann’s story in Business First, Allan Rosenberg will open Butchertown Pizza Hall, a fast-casual pizzeria and arcade, sometime this spring. Pizza is familiar territory for Rosenberg, who once owned and operated Papalino’s Pizza on Baxter Ave. Since then he’s been chef-partner at the former Fontleroy’s (now The Fat Lamb), consultant chef at Citizen 7, and culinary director at Anoosh Bistro and Noosh Nosh, where he is now and he will stay until transitioning out to his own place.
Dailey leaves Corbett’s for Harvest: Ten years ago, Jeffrey Dailey was a Sullivan University culinary intern at Corbett’s: An American Place. As of Feb. 25, he was the restaurant’s chef de cuisine, until he departed abruptly with the announcement by owner Dean Corbett that the fine dining menu would be changed to a much more casual layout featuring the foods served at one of Corbett’s other properties, Jack’s Lounge. That’s a decade-long run, folks, which would have been a really long stay even in my day.
At Harvest, he’ll be sous chef under executive chef Patrick Roney, forming what should be a powerful culinary combination.
Flesia to Covered Bridge: Making room for Dailey’s appointment is Harvest sous chef Joe Flesia, who is moving to take over the foodservice program at Covered Bridge Golf Club in Sellersburg, Ind.
Josh Bettis gone from Brown Hotel: I’m way behind the news here. Longtime Brown Hotel executive chef Josh Bettis left last November for work at another hotel in Colorado. Since then James Adams was named as his replacement—a job that includes oversight of the English Grill, all banquets and J. Graham’s—while chef Andrew Welenken remains the chef de cuisine of the English Grill. Expect a story on this change later next week.
Brian Curry to Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg: More than a year ago, Brian Curry left his executive chef post at Napa River Grill to take over the kitchen at what would become Finn’s Southern Kitchen. His run there was a short one, and he moved on to take over the kitchen at the Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg, Ky. Three reasons why this is really interesting:
- The Beaumont Inn is a fantastic, historic hotel that won a James Beard Foundation America’s Classic award in 2015. I’ve stayed there only once, but I loved it and want to return.
- Curry’s boss, Dixon Dedman, (also the man behind Kentucky Owl Bourbon, who I profiled last year) told me recently that he wants a forward-thinking chef who can elevate the food there to a higher standard and give it some modern spins. Right now, the food is basically good country cooking: fried chicken, delicious though cooked-to-death veggies, corn bread, biscuits, country ham … you know the drill. Dedman knows this works for older visitors, but that younger travelers expect much more.
- This should result in food that matches the bourbon experience at the Old Owl Tavern and the Owl’s Nest, basically a cozier bar within the tavern itself. These places are where Dedman hosts excellent interactive bourbon tastings, and where you can get some amazing pours of hard to find whiskeys at reasonable prices. (Especially the Kentucky Owl. A pour here is half to one-third less than what you’ll pay elsewhere.) These bars are made for lingering. Go check ‘em out sometime.