Grub Street grabbed a few words today with Philip Bellber, the typically press-shy owner of Cha Cha Cha, Boogaloos, Parada 22, and partner in The Corner. He confirmed a few more of the details we gathered about the curious tale of the chef known as Alex Jackson. “He was never a partner in any of my businesses, and he never worked at St. John or Gramercy Tavern, I can tell you that much. I called and spoke to someone at St. John myself.” Bellber explained that Alex’s role at Parada 22 was less about menu creation than it was about streamlining ideas that he and his cousin Gloria, a food stylist and avid home cook from Puerto Rico, had for the food. “Alex worked for us probably for three weeks up at Parada. I flew my cousin up from Puerto Rico numerous times. We’ve been planning Parada for years. But he was only up there for a few weeks before we got him out, and subsequently we fired him from The Corner.”
Bellber still prefers not to go into details, but said that what went down at The Corner was “serious” enough that he and his team knew they had to get him out of there. Also, he waited to come forward for so long about the story because not only has never had to deal with quite so active a food media-verse in S.F., but he didn’t understand at first how much Alex had been talking to the press and giving false information.
“Basically, I wouldn’t trust anything this guy says, if I were you,” Bellber warns. He also goes on to explain that he was struck by Jackson early on as being totally different from most of the people he was used to hiring. “The people I usually hire tend to be people who’ve come up from nothing, and Alex was this anomaly. A rich kid who knew how to cook.” But as Bellber ultimately discovered, the persona Jackson created was a fiction.
Bellber now wants to focus on moving forward with Parada 22, which is a project he’s especially proud of. And he’s excited by the concept his manager at The Corner Justin Glennon devised for doing a restaurant that’s totally devoted to pop-ups — sort of like Mission Street Food, but with a completely different food each of three or four nights a week. “We’re looking into getting a video screen, and a sound system, and we want the whole vibe to change with each night. So instead of going to three different restaurants in a week to have three different experiences, you can go to the same restaurant and have three different experiences.”
Earlier: Chef Alex Jackson No Longer Involved With The Corner as Strange Allegations Emerge [Grub Street]