Post-Isa, Alums Spread Wings and Soar, Some Like Whirlybirds

Ignacio Mattos (dude has shorter hair these days).
Ignacio Mattos (dude has shorter hair these days).

After the chef Ignacio Mattos left the woodsmoke and hipster-funk-tinged Williamsburg restaurant Isa last month, along with the entire kitchen staff, the restaurant quickly reopened with a dramatically less ambitious concept and “Born Again” menu. Looking forward to some time off, Mattos told us last week that he was going to spend some time with his family. “I’m also working on something I’ve had for a while in the back of my head,” he added.

It seems like more than a few others are anticipating Mattos’s next project: This morning, Tasting Table opened up invitations to a 30-seat dinner the chef will cook at their Soho test kitchen on August 3. The chef’s set menu, with canapes, cocktail, and wine, costs $100 — tickets sold out in minutes, and the listing amassed more than 2,600 Facebook likes. Somebody get this guy a restaurant.

Meanwhile, Isa’s former second-in-command, Jose Ramirez-Ruiz, and the restaurant’s former pastry chef Pam Yung (who cut her offset spatula at Roberta’s, Torrisi Italian Specialties, and, taking it back, Room 4 Dessert) have been expanding on their collaboration at Whirlybird in Brooklyn. There, the chefs operate a pop-up called Chez Jose, which Fork in the Road reports is spinning off in all sorts of creative directions, including a backyard pig roast in Greenpoint with charcutier Ends Meat. “We’re creating community,” Ramirez-Ruiz tells Laura Shunk, adding that he wants to expand Chez Jose. “In New York, that’s been lost. Here in Williamsburg, I want to be able to support the restaurants and growers in this community.”

Cooking Without Bounds: An exclusive dinner with chef Ignacio Mattos [Tasting Table]
Chez Jose’s Jose Ramirez-Ruiz and Pam Yung On “Guerilla Cooking” and New York’s Food Scene [Fork in the Road/Village Voice]
Earlier: Isa Is Back Open: Behold the New Menu