It wasn’t hard to see, after Jeffrey Chodorow’s infamous dustup with Rocco DiSpirito three years ago, that he had about had it with celebrity chefs. Except, apparently, he hadn’t: Chodorow hired Todd English a year later, in hopes, futile, that he’d redeem Tuscan, successor to Tuscan Steak. Earlier this week it was revealed that English Is Italian, the third restaurant to fill that space, will also bite the dust. Finally, Chodorow’s group is determined to avoid celebrity chefs. English Is Italian closes March 17. Wild Salmon, a seafood restaurant with a Pacific Northwest vibe, is slated to open in its place the first week of April.
“We tried three Italian restaurants there and thought that bringing a well-known name would help the restaurant grow,” China Grill Management VP Terry Zarikian tells us. “But we were wrong.” That’s why they hired Charles Ramseyer, a guy you’ve never heard of from Seattle. “He’ll be there every day,” Zarikian says. “He’s a real chef. Our restaurants are ingredient-driven, not celebrity driven.” Ramseyer is known — insofar as he is known at all! — for his unflashy treatment of fresh fish. Says Ronald Holden, a Seattle restaurant consultant who actually knows who this dude is: “You’re getting in Charles a guy who can run a huge kitchen at the city’s most popular seafood restaurant while respecting the raw materials. Seattle’s not a chef-driven town. Outside of Tom Douglas, there are no self-proclaimed celebrities.” Tom Douglas?