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October 14, 2009

Roaming chefs and other changes

JerryPellegrino.jpg

 

Is it my imagination, or do chefs move around more than they used to? It always makes me nervous to praise a restaurant to the skies when the chef isn't also the owner. Because who knows? In the next month -- poof! -- he or she may have gone.

Recently we learned on this blog that Jesse Sandlin will be leaving Abacrombie Fine Food to return to Australia for awhile. I've heard she'll be gone for the month of November and then will return to Baltimore but hasn't decided where she'll land.

When I called Abacrombie just now, owner Jerry Pellegrino (of Corks fame) answered the phone. He told me he'll be running Abacrombie's kitchen, probably through the end of the year.

Abacrombie will be open Thursday through Sunday. With the demise of the opera, Wednesdays are no longer busy for the restaurant.

But wait. There's more. ...

In a somewhat different wrinkle, I just heard from Alan Morstein, owner of Regi's American Bistro in Federal Hill, that former chef Ben Troast was back in Regi's kitchen as executive chef after working for a year as a food service rep.

"Ben earned his stripes at Sedona Restaurant in Bethany Beach before coming to Regi's five years ago," Morstein said. "Having Ben back fits our modus operandi to a T by using farmer's market produce, local beef and bison as well as seasonal fish specialties."

Chris Paternotte, formerly of Vin in Towson, has left Taverna Corvino in Federal Hill. I'm waiting to hear back from the restaurant's management as to who has taken over for him in the kitchen and what changes will be made, if any.

When I hear, I'll update this post.

(Photo of Jerry Pellegrino by Monica Lopossay/Sun photographer)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 4:37 PM | | Comments (27)
        

Comments

Don't forget about Chef Patrick Morrow of Ryleigh's is leaving and opening his own place in Federal Hill. It comes down to this, front of the house and back of the house will never get along.

BOB WENT from claddaughs to walts inn...sam went from canton station to wendy's...tim went from roccos to haven place...omg!!!

I would say about half the people reading this blog care are interested in at least one of these chefs, which is pretty high because I have a diverse readership. But then you aren't really interested in food, are you? A quick check of your IP address show you just like making nasty comments about everything and everyone from Dixon to Anita Marks to Shaq. Sad. EL

Please update us if you find out where these chefs wind up.

Will do. :-) EL

WHOCARES...

I've went from any number of restaurants to Haven Place. And your point is?


"Who cares..."
I certainly do care.
The fish stinks from the head down (or smells good).
We dined at a local Indian cuisine restaurant this weekend because my wife had Tandoori Lamb on our last visit and couldn't stop thinking about it.
As we were ordering we found out they had changed chefs since our visit.
Needless to say, she was terribly disappointed.

nastiness aside..line cooks moving from one place to another(probably because they were fired for doing blow in the bathroom) doesn't really help us..."I left Milan because management and I couldn't settle on a menu"...right....howabout...I was drinking in the back and forgot like 4 tickets and got my butt canned so I told everyone I chose to goto a new start up Brasserie in Fed Hill with an exciting mneu.....ahhhhh no.

Since when do line cooks = chefs?

Who cares about "whocares" (or "WHOCARES", for that matter)?

Since when do line cooks = chefs?

Couldn't have said it better myself.

I think in this economy restaurants are going through a darwin-esque pressure to be better. The pressure is falling on management so the management team is looking to make changes, and Chef's want freedom and security so they are going where they can find it.
On a side note- wow whocares you have serious issues.

Bruce, you might be right, but I'm not so sure how the economy is affecting places now. Friday night I had to beg Tony to get a late table at Charleston. And then Saturday night I couldn't wrangle a table at (in this order): B&O, Salt, Blue Hill, Woodberry, and Jakes. So somebody's eating out and sitting in those tables!

Richard, that's what I meant by Darwin-esque, the places that are good and run right will continue to succeed, and most of them are run with a chef mentality instead of a CPA mentality. For every great restaurant you couldn't get a seat at Saturday night, there was probably 20 that were sitting empty or way below capacity. The weak ones will push away good chefs and the great ones will retain them, and thier business.

Well, dang nab it, I wouldn't mind seeing a few empty tables at my favorite places....

Agreed Richard, bit I think the Chefs and Owners might disagree.

I take offense to some of these idiots who choose to talk before knowing none of the facts. Ben Troast is my cousin and he only left Regis the first time because of the hours and he was in the process of starting a family so he wanted to be home more. He was laid off from the food service job because he was the last hire so he had to be the first to go. Allen never wanted him to leave in the first place so he welcomed him back with open arms. Some of the people who leave comments show me where the term "Baltimoron" came from. Others who enjoy good food, I respect.

I tried so hard to stay out of this one but the true ignorance of people amazes me really what happens is you get these owners who want to have the next restaurant in a tony foreman and Cindy Wolfe restaurant group and don’t realize the money to really make that happen from the fixture furniture textiles and details not counting the big things and china glass and silver ware you’re talking about millions of dollars so you convince them that you don’t have to be that high end we can make a nice establishment on what they have to spend and do it right and you write the menus and the bar menus and the brunch menus and the recipes and you do the wine list and then you hire staff and train staff and then he takes away the last 2 weeks you want to do dry runs because he is running out of money and then you open soft and things are going good and then well and then you get some press and you finally get the kitchen running on all 8 cylinders and then the chef can take a night off in 16 weeks and he comes back and everything is all good the owner gives you a cigar and the following week you get a call that the owner wants to talk early with you about some new changes and you come in your happy everything is going well and then he said look we are breaking even and I need to make just a few adjustments I think I’m going to let you go to save money because your my biggest cost the guys in the kitchen can handle it with me watching over them so as soon as you let the monkeys out to play with a box of bananas and a whole room of booze and plenty of places to be naughty little monkey the work does not get done the food is late they get so chemically enhanced they don’t come to work or when they do they are so messed up that they don’t perform then everything the chef had made into this great environment is lost and broken and it’s so easy for the greedy owner to blame it on said chef or the public to say they chef messed up and it was bad so he jumped ship all because the owner wanted to save an extra amount a month to put into his pocket and not into his business

I grow fonder of punctuation by the day....

My eyes hurt.

Wow, Chef Hill seems like you have some personal experience in that department. And I agree, I've experienced that too. Thanks for putting it all out there.

Chef Hill, I'm sure you made some excellent points but I'm never going to know what they are.

Punctuation and spacing your message would have helped!

Chef Hill speak Big Truth.

And his Joycean syntax perfectly replicates the frenzy of opening a new restaurant.

TRANSLATION: I tried so hard to stay out of this one, but the true ignorance of people amazes me. Really.

What happens is you get these owners who want to have the next restaurant in a Tony Foreman and Cindy Wolfe restaurant group and don’t realize the money to really make that happen. From the fixture furniture textiles and details, not counting the big things, and china glass and silverware, you’re talking about millions of dollars.

So you convince them that you don’t have to be that high end. We can make a nice establishment on what they have to spend, and do it right.

You write the menus and the bar menus and the brunch menus and the recipes, and you do the wine list. Then you hire staff and train staff.

Then he takes away the last two weeks you want to do dry runs because he is running out of money. You open soft and things are going good and then well. You get some press and you finally get the kitchen running on all 8 cylinders.

The chef can take a night off in 16 weeks and he comes back and everything is all good. The owner gives you a cigar.

The following week you get a call that the owner wants to talk early with you about some new changes and you come in. You’re happy everything is going well and then he said look we are breaking even and I need to make just a few adjustments.

I think I’m going to let you go to save money because you’re my biggest cost. The guys in the kitchen can handle it with me watching over them.

So as soon as you let the monkeys out to play with a box of bananas and a whole room of booze and plenty of places to be naughty little monkey, the work does not get done. The food is late. They get so chemically enhanced. They don’t come to work, or when they do they are so messed up that they don’t perform.

Everything the chef had made into this great environment is lost and broken. It’s so easy for the greedy owner to blame it on said chef, or the public to say the chef messed up and it was bad so he jumped ship.

All because the owner wanted to save an extra amount a month to put into his pocket and not into his business.

Thanks, Mouse.

Chef Hill, true dat.

LL, may be Joycean syntax but not THIS Joyce

Major points to Chef Hill and his translator. From what I've heard there is more "chemical enhancement" behind the scenes in many establishments than I want to think about. And monkeys in the kitchen? Heaven forfend.

Trust me Dahlink, there are a lot of restaurants and bars right now struggling because owners and management can't pay thier bills 'cause they're paying thier dealers.

I was also concerned about jesse leaving Abacrombie, but then I did a bit of digging and found out for the past 12 years a guy, trained from scratch by Chef Pellegrino, has handled all of the prep for Corks, and for the last bunch of months has also handled the business of Abacrombie. I was told he starts at Corks at 9a.m. bakes bread, preps and cooks lunch, creates desserts, then preps dinner for the cooks {given the detail of the menu, no easy task while cooking a service} so they can rock out like they do down there. Then he cabs it to Abacrombie, preps that dinner service, and is often seen now cooking till the end of THAT service {close to 11p.m.!!}. If this is true... THIS GUY ROCKS...anybody got his name??

P.S. Chef Hill, you just described what we called "the disease" in San Francisco..and it is a true phenomenon that happens. Some should be ashamed.. and some should be MORE ashamed... ALL of them get it... thank god only most act on it..

I wasn't aware that their was chemical enhancement in restaurants but I can tell you it's in most bars.

Just deal with a few bar owners if you want a good dose of it.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.
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