Chef Changes and Hires: Scala's Bistro, Coqueta, Bar Agricole, More


Chef Jen Biesty at Scala’s; photo via Facebook.

Quite a few chef changes and hires around town. First up, Scoop caught wind of chef Jen Biesty’s departure from ~SCALA’S BISTRO~ after almost five years (they are currently conducting a nationwide chef search). I had a chance to catch up with Jen to get more details on her next steps. Her last day is March 29th, and she will then be focusing on getting her own project off the ground. She is going to open a restaurant that is Spanish and Mediterranean in origin, with a touch of Middle Eastern influences (we both shared our love for the flavors in Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks, Plenty and Jerusalem). In a nutshell, she said, “I want to be like Sicily!” (which has many unique culinary influences). Her plan is for the food to be shareable, with “real bar food” that you can eat with your hands, big seasonal salads for the table to share (ends up she’s a big fan of salads), smaller-size paellas in a variety of flavors, plus some larger family-style plates. She wants it to be a casual space where you can come by often, with cocktails for $8-$9 and affordable wines. She actually has a spot lined up in Oakland, but needs to raise a bit more money in order to close it. Good luck, Jen!

Over on the waterfront, chef Michael Chiarello has some updates about ~COQUETA~, his upcoming Spanish project, in this post on The Daily Meal. His chef will be Ryan McIlwraith (previously at Bottega) and Joe Cleveland (who previously worked for José Andrés) will be running the bar program, which will include house-distilled gin and tonics (really?) and sangria will also “be made in giant batches, flash-pasteurized, and put in a tank.” There will be 78 seats, with 30 at the bar. Other details: There will be a wood-fired grill, paella served on the hour, and grilled calçots, which Chiarello has been growing.

Chef Brandon Jew is leaving ~BAR AGRICOLE~ in the next few weeks to start his own project, and Scoop reports his sous chef will be taking over, Reina Talanoa (whose cooking background includes Gary Danko, Manresa, and Saison). Stand by for what’s next for Jew.

Even though I wasn’t able to get confirmation on this piece of gossip awhile ago, it’s now officially confirmed that Christian Hermsdorf (previously Cupola and Bar Bambino) is the executive chef at ~JONES~ in the Tenderloin. He is a big fan of housemade pasta, so look for that in the new dinner and $25 prix-fixe menus; there’s also an Italian influence in the Sunday brunch menu. 620 Jones St. at Geary, 415-496-6858.

Up in San Rafael, Scoop reports chef Chris Fernandez of ~TERRAPIN CROSSROADS~ is moving into more of a consulting role, and his sous chef Nathan Clark will be the executive chef. 100 Yacht Club Dr. at Francisco, San Rafael, 415-524-2773.