by Ian Froeb
The Restaurant at the Cheshire (6300 Clayton Road; 314-647-7300) opened only two and a half months ago. Now, apparently, it's already in need of a new executive chef.
Updated with a statement from the restaurant after the jump.
Julie Cohen of Sauce breaks the news this afternoon that executive chef Wilfrin Fernandez-Cruz, who with his wife, Lisa, moved from New York to work at the restaurant, has left his position, apparently upset at (quoting Sauce, not the chef himself) "the lack of seasonal ingredients...and small local purveyors he was able to use" at the restaurant.
When Gut Check visited the Restaurant at the Cheshire for our "First Look," Fernandez-Cruz spoke about the appeal of using local produce:
"I came here with a lot of expectations," Fernandez says. "My food is simple, honest food. Nothing pretentious, kind of rustic but with finesse, with different ingredients, different types of food. I try to use what's in the area. One reason I took this job was the potential in St. Louis. It's the same thing in New York -- you have all the farmer's markets, great relationships with farmers."
(Lisa Fernandez-Cruz remains the restaurant's pastry chef, according to Sauce.)
We have a call in to the Restaurant at the Cheshire's reps for comment. More as we learn it.
Update: (Friday, January 18, 9:50 a.m.) The Restaurant at the Cheshire released an official statement on the departure of Fernandez-Cruz late Thursday afternoon:
The Restaurant at The Cheshire and Executive Chef Wilfrin Fernandez-Cruz have parted ways. We have an outstanding culinary team in place at The Restaurant, an excellent corporate chef in Rex Hale who has been involved from the start, and an amazing talent in Basso Executive Chef Patrick Connolly, a James Beard Award winner, who will take on a larger role. For now, we are not interviewing any chef candidates. We will let the dust settle and keep empowering our team to do exceptional work. We believe The Restaurant at The Cheshire - and the entire complex - is a special place that is quickly becoming (once again!) one of the best restaurants in St. Louis.
(An earlier version of this post misidentified the author of the Sauce post. It was Julie Cohen, not Ligaya Figueras. Apologies.)