Yesterday 312 Dining Diva reported on some strife in the kitchen at Graham Elliot. The actual nature of the strife (some arguing, the possible exit of some front of house staff and/or a line cook or two) was less important than just the fact that someone felt motivated enough to leak it; that’s when you know things are spiraling. Today comes the fallout: Eater reports that Andrew Brochu, brought in in January to help raise the restaurant to at least a two Michelin star level, is out. The somewhat terse statement from Graham Elliot:
While Chef Andrew Brochu and I share a commitment to excellence in the kitchen, we’ve determined it mutually beneficial to pursue our professional objectives independently. Accordingly, chef Brochu has left Graham Elliot and I am now personally directing the restaurant’s daily operations, assisted by chefs Merlin Verrier and Bryce Caron. We are excited to present our guests with a new autumn inspired menu next week, and wish chef Brochu continued success on his culinary journey.
It’s not as if the restaurant will be left shorthanded— if anything, there was always a lot of high-level talent, maybe too much, in close quarters between Elliot, Brochu, operations manager Merlin Verrier, and pastry chef Bryce Caron working collaboratively with Brochu on an integrated approach to savory and sweet. Still, Brochu was seen as the one with the background (Alinea, EL Ideas) that could raise Graham Elliot from the somewhat jokey, informal place it started as to a place making fancy arty food— though the fact that it only got three stars, not four, out of Phil Vettel in the Tribune might have been a blow to those hopes (since any place that’s seriously a contender for two from Michelin would almost certainly get four from him). In the meantime, that puts two ex-Graham Elliot chefs on the street at the same time, with Brian Runge, Brochu’s predecessor as the top guy under the guy with his name on the place, recently unemployed with the closing of Premise. [Eater]