In a move that surprised precisely no one, Matt Moon–opening chef at the St. James–has been let go by partners Michael Schulson and Rob Wasserman. This move follows a couple of knee-capping reviews (a no-bell review from Craig Laban and a scathing zero-star review from Philly mag’s own Trey Popp), but according to Schulson, “There have been changes in the works for about a month.”
And showing the chef the door? That wasn’t the start of the bloodletting.
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Craig LaBan smashes The Saint James in Ardmore with a stinging no-bell review. Plates were dropped with regularity,the meat was over-cooked and salads were under seasoned. Is the problem, the location?
Finding skilled restaurant workers in the burbs is “painful,” says Schulson, whose Saint James kitchen had an 85 percent turnover in the first three months. But the problem is as much economic as geographic, he concedes, with line-cook wages only barely above what some say they’d receive in unemployment compensation. The culinary passion that drives many young chefs through that rite of passage is especially scarce outside the city. But given that Moon told me “only the sous-chef and a dishwasher” remained in his kitchen since my final visit, just a week before our conversation, I’d suggest that a pay increase is in order. Or perhaps these owners just aren’t cut out for multiple restaurants.
No Bells – Poor
The Saint James [Philadelphia Inquirer]
The Saint James [Official Site]
Monica Glass: Photo by HughEDillon
10 Arts pastry chef Monica Glass is moving on. Unlike Jennifer Carroll, we know where Glass is landing (though we hear Carroll’s been spotted snooping around Old City spaces). Glass will be the pastry chef at Mike Stollenwerk’s new Fish. [Philly Post]
Matt Moon is consulting at Bishop’s Collar in Fairmount. The former top guy at Talula’s Table will then head over to Michael Schulson’s Sampan as a sous chef this January. We have to wonder if that’s not temporary too, Schulson and Rob Wasserman are opening St. James Place in Ardmore this spring. Could Moon be moving into that head chef position? [The Insider]
The brewing equipment has been delivered and installed at Iron Hill Chestnut Hill. Brewing should begin next week. [@IronHillChief]
European Republic is opening a second location of its fries spot at 602 South Street. [Naked Philly]
Santucci’s is now offering Sunday brunch. We echo Molly Eichel’s hope that the pancakes are square. [Meal Ticket]
Rumors are flying that chef Matt Moon is out at Talula’s Garden. Anonymous tips, Twitter messages, late night texts–we’ve gotten this story every which way except officially. Repeated calls to the restaurant got us nothing but, at first, confusion, and then, later, a variety of no-comments and directions to take our annoying questions to the Starr Restaurants offices. We’ve go calls into Aimee Olexy, Starr and Moon. But so far mums the word. One thing we know for sure? Moon wasn’t cooking on Monday (which is normally his night off, apparently). And it didn’t seem like he was expected on Tuesday either.
Update: Confirmation has been received that Matt Moon is indeed out at Talula’s Garden after about two weeks on the job. Which means yet another entry in the official Talula’s Garden Timeline.
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Michael Klein reported yesterday that Talula’s Garden has named Matt Moon its new Executive Chef. Moon will replace Michael Santoro who was out as of last week from the Aimee Olexy/Stephen Starr enterprise.
Moon has been working with Olexy most recently at Talula’s Table where he was Exectutive Chef and has been with Olexy since the four-bell days of Django.
For the conspiracy theorists here is the time-line of recent notable Talula’s moments.
- Wednesday, April 13th - Talula’s Garden opens with Michael Santoro running the kitchen.
- Friday, July 8th – Talula’s Garden sous chef Chris D’Ambro reported to replace Matt Moon as Executive Chef at Talula’s Table.
- Sunday, July 24th - Craig LaBan calls the food at Talula’s Garden “fussily precious.”
- Tuesday, August 2nd - It is reported Michael Santoro is out as Executive Chef at Talula’s Garden.
New Chef at Talula’s Garden [The Insider]
Meal Ticket is reporting that the highly regarded Michael Santoro is out as chef at Talula’s Garden. Santoro came to Aimee Olexy’s urban garden restaurant after stints at Washington D.C.’s Blue Duck Tavern, Fat Duck in England and Mugaritz in Spain.
Santoro told Meal Ticket he left “due to differences in menu development.”
This isn’t the only kitchen machination in the Talula’s universe. Chris D’Ambro who was a sous chef at Talula’s Garden from the opening is now the Executive Chef at Talula’s Table, taking over for Chef Matt Moon, Talula’s Table’s chef since Bryan Sikora left.
Michael Santoro out at Talula’s Garden [Meal Ticket]