Chef Shuffle

Tavern on the Green’s New Head Chef Is Jeremiah Tower

The whole thing was Tower's idea.
The whole thing was Tower’s idea. Photo: Dario Lopez-Mills/AP/Corbis

Here’s some unexpected news: Via a press release, the powers that be at Tavern on the Green have announced that the restaurant’s new executive chef will be none other than legendary California chef Jeremiah Tower.

Jim Caiola and David Salama, the restaurant’s current operators, have been on the hunt for a new chef since a series of bruising reviews led to the departure of Katy Sparks. Caiola tells the Times that it was Tower who first approached them about taking the gig: “Out of the blue, he came to us with this real passion for this restaurant,” Caiola says.

The 71-year-old Tower, of course, is best known for his time at Chez Panisse, as well as his own San Francisco restaurant, Stars. A 1999 San Francisco Chronicle story on Tower’s departure from the restaurant, which first opened in 1984, describes what it was like during its heyday while the chef was at the helm:

The wait staff was regarded as the best in the city. Chefs from all over made pilgrimages to sit near the open kitchen and simply watch the wild Tower-led crew of hot young cooks.

But Stars shone brightest in its dining room, where Tower floated from table to bar to kitchen and back again, a flute of Champagne in hand. Tall and handsome, he dressed in European suits or chef’s whites, with a perfect white apron draped down to his ankles. He possessed an impeccable palate, an appetite for alcohol, a famous temper and a rich cache of stories from his travels around the world.

In New York, the stakes at Tavern are astoundingly high given the restaurant’s unique financial relationship with the city, so it will be very interesting to see what Tower does. Per the release, the chef will “slowly be incorporating his culinary style into the current Tavern on the Green menu items” and will debut a full new menu after the holidays. Tower told the Times of the restaurant in its current form, “The place is beautiful now, but it has to be loosened up, more flowers, more fun.”

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This post has been updated with additional information.

Tavern on the Green’s Legendary New Chef