Word came down last night that Walter Abrams–opening chef of Le Bec 2.0 and the guy that new owner Nicolas Fanucci brought in with him from California to right the ship after he bought the place from Georges Perrier last year–has been given his walking papers.
From what we understand, one of the (now former) sous chefs already in the kitchen at Le Bec will be running the show starting tonight.
We first heard about the possible changing of the guard last night from solid sources who passed it along like a briefcase full of black market uranium. This morning, when I got Fanucci on the phone, he seemed shocked that such a story could possibly be making the rounds, then immediately tried to pass me off to his PR team. Still, when asked straight out, “Is Walter Abrams still exec chef at Le Bec,” Fanucci answered, “For now.”
I got another representative from the restaurant on the phone a minute later, told her what we’d heard last night and that we knew (kinda) that one of the sous chefs was being promoted to take Abrams’s place, and she said “That is correct”–right before begging off and telling me that she’d call back in ten minutes.
It took a bit longer, but she did come back and confirmed what we knew. “It is true,” she said. “Walter is leaving, He’s working out exact terms with the ownership right now.”
And by “right now” she literally meant right now because while I was talking to her, Fanucci was in a meeting with his staff, trying to work out details of the turnover on his line. He’d been hoping to keep the news quiet and handle things internally before making an official announcement next week, but that rarely works. Not when all it takes is for one knucklehead to ask Abrams on Twitter what he plans on doing with his first Friday off.
In any event, the final word just came down to us from Fanucci about ten minutes ago–and it’s actually worse than just losing Abrams. In a statement passed along through representatives of the restaurant Fanucci said, “The restaurant has decided to make a change, and we are thankful for Walter Abrams and Jennifer Smith’s contributions. We wish them both well in their future careers.”
And that’s that. The executive chef and executive pastry chef (who also happens to be Abrams’s fiance) both gone in just two sentences.
An official announcement will be made early next week regarding who will be acting chef.
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