As we reported earlier this week, new/former executive chef Matt Moon left his post at Talula’s Garden after just 14 days on the job. His fast exit followed the just-slightly-slower dismissal of opening chef Michael Santoro, who opened the kitchen at the Stephen Starr/Aimee Olexy restaurant and lasted just over three months before hitting the bricks following a review by Craig LaBan which called the food “fussily precious” (an opinion not shared by our own critic, Trey Popp, who called the food “simply as good as it gets” and described the courtyard decor as “an Anthropologie mock-up of Sanford and Son”–but in a good way). Warring opinions aside, Talula’s Garden will soon be moving on to its third executive chef in roughly four months, and the two things that we still wanted to know were…
1) What exactly happened with Moon that caused him to walk out?
2) Who’s running the show now that Talula’s Garden is chef-less?
Luckily, Starr had answers to both those questions when I got him on the blower last night.
The answer to question number one was simple and straight-forward (a rarity these days in the restaurant world). When I asked Starr what happened with Moon, he told me plainly that the former Talula’s Table exec “couldn’t handle the volume. He didn’t want to be working in a kitchen that was doing two or three hundred covers a night, and that’s what we need to do to survive.”
And I don’t doubt that. Let’s remember that Moon was coming from a gig where he cooked 20 covers a night maximum (12 at the eponymous table, and up to 8 in the kitchen itself, by invite only). To suddenly jump into a galley that’s turning and burning for 300? That’s enough to blow anyone’s mind. And pretty quickly, too, I guess.
As for who’s running the show now, it’s down to Olexy and her remaining staff. Starr again:
“Even though Aimee is not a chef there, she can cook. The sous chefs are great and we’re going to be fine.”
What’s more, Starr also assured me that Talula’s Garden was going to have a new chef “in five days”–which, to me, seemed an oddly specific answer. The kind of thing a man might say if he already had someone in mid.
There’s no word yet on who that someone might be, but I guess we won’t have too long to wait before we find out. Here’s hoping that whoever they do get into that position has some stamina and knows what he (or she) is walking into. Because you know the only thing that’ll look worse than losing two chefs in four months?