Chef Moves: Laurent Gras Joins Saison, Melissa Perello Opening in LA, More

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Chefs Laurent Gras and Joshua Skenes. Instagram photo via @jskenes.

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Chilled squid ink noodles at Octavia. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Big news at ~SAISON~: chef-owner Joshua Skenes has brought on famed chef Laurent Gras (Chicago’s L20), and I remember being stunned by his cooking when he was at Fifth Floor back in, oh, 2003. Welcome back to SF, chef. Skenes is positioning the hire as a collaboration at Saison, and they could probaby use a fellow three-star chef in the group as they ramp up upcoming projects (Angler, Angler Los Angeles, and of course other things in the works).

Here’s a fun tie-in: when Gras departed Fifth Floor, it was Melissa Perello who took the helm, and she’s the focus of this next bit of news: Perello is expanding to Los Angeles with a new project. She’s going to be opening a 4,200-square-foot restaurant in Row DTLA in spring 2019 (it’s also where Tartine Manufactory is opening a location).

Look for something that is stylistically similar to Frances and Octavia, naturally, and Perello adds: “I was looking to expand on the ethos of our San Francisco restaurants while also exploring some new features such as cooking with live fire, a full bar, lunch service, and outdoor seating. With this new project, we’re able to check a lot of things off the wish list for an ideal space and type of experience we plan to offer.” It will be designed by Studio Unltd.

A couple other moves: after the wheels came off the bus at ~TOSCA CAFE~, former chef Josh Even is now at Mark Nevin and April Sack’s ~TOFINO WINES~, designing the wine shop and bar’s snack menu. It’s offering the break he needed while he plans his next move. 2696 Geary Blvd. at Masonic. [Via The Chronicle.]

The new chef de cuisine at ~ABSINTHE~ (which just turned 20) is Joel Ehrlich, previously at Bellota, and he is working with Absinthe Group executive chef Ryan McIlwraith on the menu (there are already some new additions). Meanwhile, Robert Leva (previously Redd) is taking over as cdc at ~BELLOTA~.